In case you missed it:
Let us boldly and confidently approach the throne whenever we need a sense of direction, whenever our burdens increase, when we feel like we’re drowning; when we struggle. Get honest with God. Approach with confidence. Take comfort – and advantage – knowing that we have a Mediator to plead on our behalf.
Rebekah & Jacob conspire to obtain Isaac’s blessings
Scripture in focus: Genesis 27
Isaac is now old in age and blind and he believed that it was his time to die so he called Esau to his deathbed to make a request (27:1-4). Inside these 4 opening chapters, we see that Esau was right there to answer his father when he was called (Behold, here am I). Yes, he was his father’s favorite and there might be nothing redeemable about Esau at this point, but I figured that he loved his father. Isaac thought his time had come to die so he wanted to put his affairs in order, but first, he wanted to eat his favorite son’s savory meat. Isaac was 137 at this time and he lived 43 more years (35:28) so it seemed that he was being dramatic. And he also wanted to bless Esau ignoring the fact that this was the same son who bartered his birthright and married heathen women. Despite all of that, he still loved and favored Esau. Despite God’s warning, he schemed in an attempt to bless the son who despised his birthright.
Oh, Isaac knew his motive was wrong, but he didn’t care.
Isaac also wanted to give Esau the best blessings, but Rebekah heard and a deceptive plan was born for Jacob to deceive his father (27:5-10). Jacob was nervous as he reminded his mother that his twin was a hairy man, but he was willing to go along with the plan even as his mother was prepared to bear the brunt of being cursed should it occur (27:11-14). Let us pause for a bit and look at the drama thus far: not one of these actors are innocent. Isaac knew fully well that God chose Jacob from the very beginning to be blessed, yet, he wanted to do things his way. Esau agreed with his father’s plan even after agreeing to give Jacob his birthright, so he breaks a promise to his twin. Rebekah was eavesdropping when she heard her husband’s intentions to bless Esau in secret so instead of waiting for God, she and Jacob took matters into their own hands.
Rectifying the matter, Rebekah made Jacob “feel” like Esau (27:15-16). After preparing the savory meat and bread, she gave the dish to Jacob which he takes to his father impersonating Esau (27:17-19). Isaac doesn’t believe what he is hearing for hunting takes time (27:20). Jacob could’ve stopped the deceit right here and come clean, but instead, he brought God into it. Isaac was still in doubt so he asked the impersonator to come closer so he can feel if it’s really his beloved son (27:21-23). He was still highly suspicious because of the voice, but Jacob held on firmly saying that he was, in fact, Esau (27:24). Isaac happily ate the venison (27:25) and asked Jacob to kiss him perhaps to get a better smell of his clothing (27:26-27). But you know what bugged me? The fact that he loved Esau’s venison so much, but he couldn’t the difference in taste.
And Isaac unknowingly blessed Jacob (27:28-29). God’s will be done as He prophesied in 25:23 and 26:23.
Jacob made haste and left his father’s tent just as Esau came back from his hunt bearing savory meat expecting to be blessed (27:30-31). He only wanted the blessing which was super selfish of him. Poor Isaac when he realized he was duped (27:32-33)! He tried to go against God’s will. He thought he had beaten God when he blessed Esau when in fact, it was Jacob. God’s will, would ALWAYS be done regardless of man fighting it. And that’s why Isaac trembled.
Esau is anguished and begs his father to bless him (27:34), but it was already too late (27:35) and Esau angrily vents about his birthright blaming someone else for his sins; still expecting some sort of blessing (27:36-38). Although Esau wept, his tears were not of repentance; he simply felt sorry for himself (Hebrews 12:15-17). Isaac gives Esau a limited blessing (27:39-40). Esau is suddenly bitter and filled with hatred for his twin and he had murder in his heart vowing to kill Jacob as soon as Isaac died. If he only knew Isaac was not going to die immediately! (27:41). Someone overhears Esau’s murderous intention and tells it to Rebekah who didn’t hesitate to call Jacob to let him know of his brother’s wickedness (27:42). Rebekah tells him that he must flee to the dwelling place of her brother Laban for a few days until Esau’s anger cooled (27:43-45). Little did she know that Jacob’s few days turned out to be more than 20 years and this was the last time that she’ll be seeing her favorite son.
Rebekah masks her intentions with a lie to get Isaac to allow Jacob to leave (27:46).
Scripture in focus: Genesis 28
Isaac calls, blesses and warns Jacob about taking a Canaanite woman as a wife, instead instructing him to go to Padan-aram (28:1-2). Jacob was now heir to the Promised Land and the Canaanites were to be dispossessed of the land of Canaan. Also, it was time for Jacob to get married for he was 70 years old. Jacob is given the blessing of Abraham, the aspect of the birthright Esau despised (28:3-5). When Esau witnessed the blessing his twin was given and that Jacob obeyed his parents (28:6-7), and that the Canaanite women were not marriage material (28:8), Esau adds wives by marrying back into the line of Abraham through the family of Ishmael (28:9). He was trying to win back favor with his father.
Jacob left home alone; no servants accompanying him on this journey (28:10), he used stones for pillows (28:11) and then he dreamed (28:12). This vision showed that Jacob had access to heaven, that God was nearer than he thought. The “ladder” was most likely a stairway. This is a symbolic picture of Jesus (John 1:51). He is the ladder. He is the Mediator between heaven and earth. God speaks to Jacob in 28:13-15. This was no doubt, a life-changing experience for Jacob after meeting God in this personal way. He awakens from the dream thinking that God wouldn’t have been present in a place like that (28:16). God is EVERYWHERE! We cannot hide from Him for He’ll find us. David knew this (Psalm 139:7). Jacob was afraid (a respectful fear) and called the place “dreadful” (the usage here has to do with reverence. How “awesome” is this place!) for God dwell there (28:17).
Jacob marked the site as a special significance calling the place Beth-el which means House of God (28:18-19). He then made a vow unto God (28:20-22). Jacob also mentioned tithing (the tenth). Tithing pleases God and even now, He blesses those who tithe 10% of their income to Him.
The site of Bethel via thebiblejourney.org
Love at first sight
Scripture in focus: Genesis 29
Jacob arrives in the land of Mesopotamia/Syria which lay east of Canaan and comes to a covered well (29:1-3). He asks the shepherds what city they’re from and they responded that they were from Haran the very place Jacob was bound for (29:4). Just as he enquires about their knowledge of Laban, his (Laban’s) daughter Rachel comes with the flock of sheep to water them (29:5-6). What perfect timing! This is Jacob’s first glimpse of Rachel. He gives the shepherds advice (29:7), but I reckoned that he was trying to get rid of them so he can speak to Rachel. However, the shepherds did not want to violate the law of rolling the stone away to water the sheep (29:8). It seemed like the shepherds watered the sheep at a certain time daily and had to wait until the other shepherds were gathered so everyone can water their flocks.
And Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them (29:9).
When Jacob saw Rachel coming nearer with the flock, he rolls the stone away from the well’s mouth and watered Rachel’s flock of sheep (29:10). He knew he had come to marry one of Laban’s daughters, so he had to make a great first impression. He then kissed Rachel in a way of civility and wept with happiness (29:11). He told her that he was a near kinsman of her father and his mother was her father’s sister and she ran and told her father these things (29:12). Laban rushes to greet him, welcome him into his home, and Jacob told him everything (29:13). Laban said that Jacob could stay for a month (29:14). Back in the ancient days, by tradition, a stranger can stay with someone for up to 3 days. If he’s still there on the 4th day, he’ll state his name and mission. If he’ll like to remain much longer, he’ll have to work in some agreed-upon way as we’ll see in verse 15. If Jacob wanted to remain, he must stay as a hired servant.
Laban had two daughters: the eldest being Leah and the youngest being Rachel (29:16). Leah’s eyes were not as beautiful as her sister’s; see how beauty always have such a HUGE role to play? (29:17). But Jacob loved Rachel and he seems to have from the very first moment they met. For him, it was love at first sight and he was willing to serve 7 years for her (29:18). Essentially, seven years was a dowry. But Laban had plans for Jacob. Oh, yes, yes, the deceiver was about to be deceived. Whatever we reap, we sow after all.
A deal is struck since Laban would prefer his daughter to marry a relation rather than a stranger (29:19). Jacob served seven years which seemed like a few days (29:20). I love how Jacob loved Rachel! Although he was not allowed to spend as much time with her – for there were rules regarding unmarried men and women – just the sight of her and the conversations they had in passing made the time seem shorter. Jacob was willing to wait for Rachel for 7 years. An important lesson on love here: TRUE LOVE WAITS. True love is not a princely kiss or all those make-believe stuff and lies we see on the teLIEvision.
I’ve always admired the love Jacob had for Rachel. This is one of the greatest love stories of all time and I’ll like to dedicate a post at a later time to them.
By contract, Rachel was Jacob’s wife and the conditions were fulfilled, and now he wanted his wife (29:21). Laban made the marriage public (29:22), but when evening came, he switched Rachel for Leah (29:23). According to the wedding customs of those days, the bride was veiled until she was finally alone with her husband. However, it must have been dark by then and Jacob, unaware of the change of girls given that he was not expecting it, slept with Leah. And Laban gave Leah a wedding present in the form of a handmaid call Zilpah (29:24).
The next morning, Jacob realizes that he was deceived and calls Laban out on it (29:25). Jacob felt wronged. He served 7 years for beautiful Rachel, not tender-eyed Leah! How dare, Laban gave him the daughter that was not as beautiful as Rachel?! Laban’s deception is similar to that of what Jacob did to his brother Esau and father Jacob. Laban comes up with an excuse saying that the younger must not be given before the older in marriage (29:26). So why didn’t he say so when Jacob agreed to serve 7 years for the woman who stole his heart at the well? Laban tells Jacob to complete the wedding week with Leah and he’ll give Rachel to be his wife if he promises to serve another 7 years (29:27). Of course, Jacob would do just about anything to have Rachel as his wife, so he complied (29:28). Laban gifts Rachel a handmaid by the name of Bilhah for her wedding gift (29:29).
He loved Rachel more than Leah for she was his choice from the very beginning; she was the woman he originally served 7 years for (29:30). But God loved Leah and He took compassion on her (29:31). Leah conceived and gave birth to Reuben meaning “behold, a son” and she thinks because he is the firstborn of Jacob, he’ll come to his senses and love her (29:32). Her second born was named Simeon meaning “hearing” for the Lord has heard her (29:33). Her third son was called Levi meaning “attachment” in the hope that her husband will love her and become attached to her after giving him something his beloved Rachel couldn’t: 3 sons (29:34). She called the 4th son Judah meaning “praise” and the Messiah sprung from this tribe and she stopped bearing for a while (29:35).
^ To add to 27:21-24, after Jacob received the blessing, he had to pay the consequences for his deceit: he never saw his mother after the fiasco, Esau wanted to kill him, his uncle Laban deceived him, but what probably hurt the most was being exiled from his family for years.
^ Extra notes on Chapter 27: Had Isaac not been blind, Esau would’ve surely gotten the blessing he did not deserve. There is implied symbolism here as well of God having a favorite which was the Israelites, but they took their heritage for granted refusing the blessing that would come through Jesus Christ. The Israelites were the firstborn. They refused to accept the beautiful blessing and the Gentiles got it.
^ Jacob’s vow in 28:20-22 is the first vow we read of in scripture.
^ Leah means “weary” while Rachel means “ewe” a female sheep.
^ Although Jacob married two sisters, he let everyone know that Rachel was highly favored in his heart. Maybe he could’ve tried to love Leah equally, but it was impossible, for she was not as beautiful as Rachel. He even loved the sons of Rachel (Joseph and Benjamin) more than the others.
^ The two greatest tribes came from Leah: Levi (the priestly tribe) and Judah (the royal tribe). And most importantly, the Messiah came from Leah, the less beautiful sister. She was neglected and despised (are you beginning to see the similarities of Jesus in many of these characters in Genesis? They set the stage for His eventual coming), but she didn’t blame God for her circumstance, instead, she praised Him.
* The Holy Bible
*** Images and GIFs via Google Search