We’ve been trekking the Genesis 3:15 River towards the Waterfall of Fulfilment. We’ve found a couple of shoot off streams along the way; Noah, Abraham and Isaac. We followed them, hoping to find the Seed of the Woman, only to discover their lives end in a marshy pit and not a gorgeous crescendo.
Not that these men weren’t men of faith. Not that there weren’t flashes of great obedience. But that they weren’t the ones we were promised. In the words of Bonnie Tyler, I need a hero, and these men are not. But God isn’t finished. He promised Isaac the same promise he gave his father Abraham; through you the nations of the earth will be blessed.
So what about Jacob? Isaac’s son. Once again there is a miracle birth; Rebekah, Isaac’s wife was barren and Isaac interceded for her. That’s something. Then there is a prophecy over Jacob even before he’s born; that he will become a nation and that he will rule over his twin brother. That’s something too.
Then there’s this curious moment when Rebekah is giving birth to her boys and Jacob grabs the heel of Esau. Plot twist - is Jacob going to be the Seed of the Woman who will bruise the head of the Serpent or is he going to start bruising heels, like the Serpent?
More Serpent than Seed
Skipping ahead we get to Genesis 27. Isaac think he is about to die. He isn’t. He’s starting to go blind. He wants to give the blessing of the firstborn to, well, his firstborn, Esau. Had Rebekah told him about the prophecy and Isaac was too busy picking favourites to care? Or had Rebekah kept it to herself to watch and control how it would all play out?
You know the story, Esau heads out hunting to bring back dad’s favourite meal. Rebekah finds Jacob and they form a plan to deceive Isaac in his tent. Slow down, were back to bad stuff happening in tents again.
Noah - drunk in his tent from the fruit of the garden vineyard - his son walks in and does something shameful to him
Abraham - listening to Sarah who takes Hagar and gives to her husband - and he goes in to her in the tent
Isaac - hungry and nearly blind in his tent, waiting for his son - deceived by his wife and son
Jacob disguises himself as his brother, lies to his father and steals the blessing. God had told his mother the blessing would one day be his, but instead of trusting God’s will and timing, he takes matter into his own hands. Sound familiar?
It’s a lot like Adam and Eve wanting to learn knowledge independently of God, instead of learning from him in his timing.
It’s a lot like Abraham and Sarah plotting to have a child through their own efforts, instead of waiting for God to come through on his promise.
So here, the one who was meant to be a blessing to the nations, is instead sneakily stealing blessing from others. Not good.
Cain killed his brother and was cast out to the east. Now Jacob, having deceived his brother, and in danger of being murdered by him, heads out east.
Out there he has a dream, angels ascending and descending upon a ladder where he is sleeping. He calls the place the house of God and gate of heaven. We’ll get back to that in a bit. God, in mercy, gives Jacob the promise of Abraham and Isaac; in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Gen 28v14).
Long story short, Jacob ends up with four wives. So far so bad. Jacob learns the hard way, a bunch of times, what it’s like to be deceived. God then tells him to go back to the land of Canaan. On his way there he wrestles with a Man, gets a new name, Israel, and a new limp.
You’re Not Jacob
We read the story of Jacob wondering if he is the Seed of the Woman who will crush the subtle serpent. Instead, we see him behave like the serpent in his deceitfulness.
Jacob is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as one of those who had faith in God. Of course, we see in his life the ramifications of taking matters into your own hands instead of trusting God.
But we also see much more. We see, most importantly, that we need a Better-than-Jacob. We need a Jacob who will:
Trust God and wait on his timing and will
Seek to bless the nations around him instead of snatching blessing for himself
One of the great themes of John’s Gospel is that Jesus waits for “the hour” of the Father’s will. Another beautiful theme is Jesus delighting to do the will of his Father. Jesus trusts and obey’s God perfectly.
We read about how Jesus pours out his life upon others, even unto death. Now, through him, his people are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
We read in John about Jesus telling Nathaniel that he will see angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. Jesus is saying that the house of God and gate of heaven is no longer a place, like it was in Jacob’s day, but a person; Jesus himself.
The Story Continues
We’ve gone down the stream of Jacob to find, once again, he isn’t the hero we’ve been waiting for. But we don’t head back to the main river without hope. Jacob received that promise remember; through you the families of the earth will be blessed. The waterfall beckons still.