04 February 2011

Jacob (February 5)

39-19-01/62 Victors,Jan. Isaac benissant Jaco...
Isaac blesses Jacob  Victors, Jan

Jacob's Dream. de Ribera, Jusepe
Jacob Fights the Angel Rembrandt

Jacob Blessing His Children. Rembrandt

There is so much to say about Jacob: family drama;  sin and deceit; love, heartbreak, sorrow and betrayal.  But the stories in Genesis are about God forever keeping his promises, even to (frankly) horrible people.  And God keeps his promise to Jacob, to Israel, to his Bride.

I have never really liked Jacob.  David was a sinner, but at least he was manly.  He wasn't a mamma's boy, he waited on God's timing to take his rightful throne, he was loyal and honest (usually).  I believe David when he repents, but I don't trust Jacob when he prays "I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness you have shown to your servant..." (Gen 32:10).  I just think, "Yeah, right, you're just scared Esau is going to destroy you. Wimp."

Until I read an article by a Lutheran pastor arguing Esau was not necessarily damned from eternity (an article I'm still trying to track down), and heard Pr. Nathan Dudley on Issues, Etc., I always had a Reformed understanding of the story of Jacob and Esau (without knowing it).  "Esau I hated" just because he was predestined not to receive the inheritance, was elected to damnation, and "Jacob I loved" just because he was elected to salvation.  I have never held Reformed views on election, but I accepted that interpretation without thinking too much about it, and its full implications.  It was a "hard passage" that seemed to support Reformed theology.

So back to David vs. Jacob.  Remember when Nathan says to David "You are the man!" (You can read the whole story here)?  Well, God, through his Word in Genesis, is pointing to Jacob and saying to me "You are that man!"  After I just wrinkled my nose and expressed my disgust at Jacob's sliminess.   The Lutheran interpretation of Jacob and Esau as types of the Church and Christ is brilliant (and so obvious once pointed out).  Of course, for all of Jacob's grossness, God still chooses to bless the world through him.

It helps me to frame the saint or OT character of the day in Christ and his work before I begin our "Saint Time" with the little ones.  "In the Home" includes mom and dad meditating on the commemoration or feast, too, before talking to the little ones (or bigger ones) about who we are celebrating and why.

We will focus on the story of Jacob and Esau and God giving the birthright to Jacob, in spite of Jacob's sin.  We will make lentil soup, color a coloring page, and make some play-doh soup bowls or popsicle stick ladders.

I found Olney Hymns: In Three Parts by Newton and Cowper, which includes hymns inspired by Genesis passages.  We're not going to try to sing any of these, but here are a few lovely lines:

"Lo! He saw a ladder rear'd
Reaching to the heavenly throne,
At the top the Lord appear'd,
Spake and claim'd him for his own"

(As Jacob demands a blessing from the Lord....)
"No--I must maintain my hold,
'Tis thy goodness makes me bold;
I can no denial take,
When I plead for Jesus' sake."

The bits on Jacob are found on page 29.


  1. Our pastor has often commented how comforting it is (to us conniving sinners) that God is known as the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" (not even "Abraham, Isaac, and Israel"). Jacob, whose name actually means "supplanter or "sneak" was chosen, despite his sneakiness and conniving life. God chooses very unsavory people at times!

    I always think it's interesting (and even more scandalous than Jacob perhaps!) that Jesus came through the line of Judah, and his son Pharez by his daughter-in-law Tamar! (and then Ruth 4:12!) God sure has an interesting sense of humor.

  2. Okay, this is hilarious - when I went to post that last comment the "word verification" letters I had to type in were: C-R-I-N-G-E. (Did it read my comment first ? ;)

  3. I too am comforted that our Lord remained faithful to all the liars, sneaks, scaredy cats, prostitutes, traitors and murderers in our history. The "heroes of the faith" I grew up calling them in the Baptist church. The only real Hero is Christ and for that I am so thankful!

    "In the Home" includes mom and dad meditating on the commemoration or feast, too, before talking to the little ones (or bigger ones) about who we are celebrating and why." So important! Thanks Katy!

  4. Thanks for all your insights, links, and information! Your blog came along at a perfect time for our family -- and thank you for being Lutheran!

  5. Leah -- I know, why are those verification words always so weirdly relevant (or hilarious)? And I learned recently that Jezebel was in Jesus' line.

    Aubri and Emommy -- I'm glad your families have benefited from the blog. Please keep contributing your own insights! While reading back over some posts the other day, I was a little embarrassed at how much space I spend on my personal thoughts. (I didn't intend this to be THAT kind of blog!)

  6. >> "(I didn't intend this to be THAT kind of blog!)"

    Katy, apparently we're OK with it :P I truly enjoy the insights and direct explanations.

    Thank you.

  7. I was interested in where you found that Jezebel was in Jesus' line?

  8. I heard it on Issues a while ago...I think it might be indirectly (and speculation). I'll try to find the episode and send it to you.

  9. Here is where I first heard the connection (http://issuesetc.org/podcast/599101410H2S2.mp3

    Ahaziah's mother was Athaliah, Jezebel's daughter. (Her grandson was Joash)

  10. Thank you Katy, for taking the time to look that up. I'll have a listen when I get a chance.

    Reading through that portion of 2 Kings, from chapter 8 to 12 or so, you have to really pay close attention to who is whose son by whom or you just get majorly confused about how the genealogies go(at least I do)!