Insights into the Biblical Character:
Jacob



The topic for this page is:


Exploring the Mysteries

of

the life of Jacob



I am giving my theories about

the mysteries of Jacob.


These are my theories.


I present them to you for your consideration.


Also, I realize that readers may agree with

part of this page

but not all of this page.


The Life of Jacob


The life of Jacob has captured my attention.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about Jacob.


I invite you to consider the mysteries of Jacob

with me.



Part 1

Question:

Why did God choose Jacob to be a leader of his people

and a pivotal part of the Old Testament?


Presenting my First Thought:


Jacob valued the things of God.

Jacob valued many of the things God valued.



Insights:

Jacob was one of the most pivotal characters in the Bible.  The word "Israel" was first introduced in history, when God changed Jacob's name to Israel.

Years ago I wondered why Jacob was given such importance in the Bible, since he was a deceiver who took advantage of his brother on one occasion and outright cheated his brother on another occasion!

I wondered what was it about Jacob that made him such a focus in Bible history.

As I began to really study Jacob, the answer emerged.


Jacob

Jacob's character wasn't one of integrity. He wasn't a godly man. Yet he highly valued many of the things of God.

To Jacob, the blessings God can provide were important.

Esau

To Esau, the blessings of God were not that important. Esau was basically indifferent to God.

Notice that Esau only gave value to the blessings of God WHEN he no longer had them.

When Esau foolishly gave his brother the birthright, he went right on in life and hardly gave it a thought. But later he began thinking and THEN he wanted it back.

Esau's first instinct was not to care about the things of God. His heart was far away from being interested in God.

For Esau, a bit of food for a hungry day was vastly more important than the birthright of God.

God had grace ready for Esau.
Grace was never outside the grasp of Esau.   
Yet, Esau ignored God.

Jacob

Jacob didn't really know God. We see that fact by the way he ignored the righteous ways of God and instead chose deception to get what he wanted.

But the point is that HE WANTED what God had.

Jacob valued the birthright.

Jacob didn't really know God, but he respected God's gifts, and he respected God's power to bless people.

Esau

Esau only valued the birthright and the blessing when he lost them.

It reminds me of times when I have given away or sold something that I hadn't used in a long time. Right after I let go of it, I began to think of all the reasons I wanted it back.


Esau did not pay God any attention.

God wasn't that important.

Esau lived for the moment.

The future wasn't that important to him.

"Now" was what was important to Esau.

Jacob

Jacob wanted to get all that he could get from his parents and from God.

Jacob valued

VALUABLE

Things.

~

Jacob took seriously

important things.

Jacob focused on his future.


When you truly realize that God is all powerful and you

highly prize the things God can give you, THEN you become

interested enough to be teachable.


God knew that Jacob was teachable.

God knew that Jacob - in time - could be

molded to be a leader.


I believe that is why

God chose Jacob

to be a pivotal part of the Old Testament




Part 2


Question:

How can we understand the following from a loving God?


God loved Jacob.

God hated Esau.


Malachi 1:2-3 and Romans 9:13


Insights:

For years it greatly bothered me that the Scriptures say that God hated Esau.

It made no sense for God to hate Esau - using the traditional sense of the word. God loves all of us. God made each of us, and he loves us.

Fortunately I learned a long time ago to trust God and put everything that I don't understand into a "I don't understand" folder in my mind.

Many of the things I have put into that folder have later been taken out after I gained greater understanding.

One day the LIGHT came on

and I understood.

I was listening to a sermon years ago on the topic of Jacob and Esau. A light came on when the speaker said these words: "In this verse, the definition of "hate" can best be understood as  constant opposition."

When I put that definition into the story, it made sense.

God doesn't hate people in the way that people hate.

He isn't just expressing an emotion of disgust with all that Esau was. God created Esau. God "loved" Esau in the way we would use the word "love."

In English, the word “love” gives us the idea of an emotion. But in Hebrew, it is more to do with a positive relationship.

Also note that in Luke 14:26, that verse uses a Greek word for "hate" and obviously that word does not mean "hate" as we normally think. In Luke 14:26,  it obviously means: to esteem less than or to love less than. 

Esau

Esau was basically always in opposition to God. Even at his youngest, most childlike years, his mind stood in opposition to God's will. Esau was a very rebellious boy and man.

Esau's rebellion against God made him an enemy or foe to God. Esau was born a rebellious child, and he continued to be a rebellion adult. He didn't allow his heart to soften toward God and thus value God. Esau kept a giant wedge between himself and God.

As Esau grew to be a man, he didn't grow to love God.

God knew Esau's heart of opposition to all that was God.


Jacob

So God chose Jacob as the leader, because God knew he could mold Jacob within a few years.

God knew that Esau was not "moldable."

That makes sense to me and fits the story. I have known people like Esau, and I can see what the problem was.

Jesus talks of people like Esau when he addresses the Pharisees in Matthew 23:37. In that verse, Jesus talks about wanting to gather and love people -  like a hen gathers her chicks - but some people just won't let him.


Some people are resistant to being molded by God.


Of those who do not love God:


Some people are outwardly and inwardly rebellious to God.

Other people are just inwardly rebellious to God.


Jesus said the following about people

who hide their inner rebellion:

These people draw near to Me with their mouth,

And honor Me with their lips,

But their heart is far from Me.

Matthew 15:8 NKJV





Part 3

Jacob wrestles with God.


Question:

How do I understand the story of

Jacob wrestling with God?


Insights:

The story about Jacob wrestling with the angel of the Lord was another thing that I put into the "I don't understand it" file in my mind.

The story is found beginning in Genesis 32:24. 

Did Jacob actually wrestle with God, or did he wrestle with a created angel who God sent to wrestle with Jacob?

It could be argued that it was a created angel. Some theologians believe the competitor was an angel, and since the angel was sent by God - then Jacob was wrestling God.

Yet, I keep remembering that Jacob himself said that he wrestled with God. Wouldn't he have said an angel sent by God if that was the case?

Many theologians think it was Jesus in a pre-incarnate form.

Jesus is God. Jesus is part of the Trinity.

If you want to get more insights into the Trinity,
please visit our page: Understanding the Trinity.


Personally, I believe that Jacob wrestled Jesus in pre-incarnate form.

Either way, the supernatural competitor could at any moment out - wrestle Jacob and conclude the match.

We read that Jacob wrestled all night. He was fighting hard. He did his best. He was determined. He really thought he was matching strengths with the Lord.

Wrestling

When my son was young, he loved to wrestle with his daddy. Each wresting match went on for quite a length of time.

Obviously his father could win the match at any moment with very little added exertion. In fact, trying not to easily out-wrestle his little son was the hardest part of the competition.  Trying to keep just the right muscle tension so that the match continued was sometimes a challenge.

His daddy - as with most fathers - made each wrestling match appear as though the two were almost well - matched. This gives the little boy hope that he just might could prevail if he tries hard enough.

Jacob's wrestling match

After a night of wrestling, the supernatural wrestler said, "Let me go, for the day breaketh. "

Jacob said, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me."

Jacob got one thing right:

God loves it when his children boldly come to him

believing that God is a good God,

and that God wants to bless his children.


Then the supernatural one said, "What is your name?"

Jacob said, "Jacob."

Jacob means
"supplanter or heel holder."

Supplanter means
taking something that doesn't belong to you.


Jacob is given the name

Israel

Next, the supernatural being told Jacob that his name would no longer be "Jacob" but "Israel."

Israel

means

God Prevails 

(more insights on that definition later)


God was pleased with Jacob's determination and persistence. And God rewarded him.


"For since the beginning of the world

men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,

nor has the eye seen any God besides You,

who acts for the one who waits for Him."

Isaiah 64:4


Jacob had wrestled and waited all night for the blessing he wanted.

Application:

In my personal life, I have had to wait for years for some things - and some things I am still waiting for. (I see that thought written about in Hebrews 11.)

God is pleased when we wait in faith for him. One day he will reward our faith If we don't give up. He will reward our faithful waiting  - in this life or in heaven.

Consider our visiting our Patience Prayers page.

For years - God had been molding and growing Jacob to be a more mature follower of God.

Jacob still had a long way to go spiritually. But Jacob had learned many lessons, and after the wrestling, God released him from his old name that expressed his previous character.

Through the new name, God was acknowledging that Jacob had come a long way.

This foreshadows that one day we, too, will have a new name if we continue to grow and pursue God.

We, too, will one day get a new name. Our new name will be a sign from God releasing us from our old life and bringing us into a new, fresh existence in heaven.


What does the word "Israel" mean?


Part 4


Question:

What does the word "Israel" mean

and

why did God give that name to Jacob?



Insights:

Israel means

God prevails.


The name "Israel" is symbolizing that

Jacob is no longer

living a life of rebellion

toward God.


Jacob's heart has softened.

Jacob is ready to do things God's way. 


Jacob has come to the place that

God can now really MOLD him.


Jacob is ready to truly start the molding process.


Before his name change, Jacob was busy getting his heart ready to be molded.

After the wrestling match, God is able to do some major molding of Jacob.

Now God is going to mold Jacob into a man who will live his life making decisions based on what God wants.

Now "God will prevail" in his life.

Jacob is becoming a leader who seeks to rule as God would rule.

Interestingly, the name "Israel" is sometimes translated "He will rule as God."


A Second Application


Another thought about the wrestling match.


Years ago, God gave me an illustration that might be helpful for this story. I will explain this illustration:

I see myself as a little girl waiting for my daddy (God) to come home in the evening.  Daddy has promised to bring me a candy bar.

When daddy comes through the door, I run into his arms.

Daddy picks me up and takes me into the den. Then I begin wrestling with him and asking him for the candy bar that he promised to bring me.

God laughs and with a twinkle in his eye, he asks me questions like, "When did I say I'd bring you a candy bar?" "Are you sure I said I'd bring you a candy bar?"

We play and play. Then I begin to try to search his pockets for the candy bar.

"Daddy, I'm not going to let you go until you give me my candy bar!"

God loves the wrestling and the playing. And God loves it when I boldly come to him and say with respect, "I won't let you go until you bless me with what you promised me!"

I remind the reader that Jacob said with boldness: "I won't let you go until you bless me." 

I believe there are insights that fit both my fictional illustration and Jacob's encounter with God.

End of the story of God and the candy bar.


Third Application


Wrestling with our fleshly, sinful desires.


One day after I had gone through many maturing experiences with God,  I reviewed the story of Jacob wresting God.

I realized that every growing Christian will one day wrestle with God.

In fact, we will on more than one occasion wrestle with God. And we will wrestle many times with our flesh.


Sometimes as a Christian, we have to struggle and wrestle

in a way that is not fun or playful

Sometimes we have a wrestling match between our fleshly desires and our godly desires.

I believe that Jacob had THAT wrestling match EVEN BEFORE  he had the literal one with the angel of the Lord.

We have to win a few of those before we can get to a place of moldability for God.

Like Jacob, we have to win some wrestling matches between our fleshly desires and our godly desires -  before God can truly work on molding us.

I believe we have minor and major wrestling matches where we again and again have to fight for our godly desires to win the wrestling match.

Our wrestling matches are important if we want to be molded into the person God has designed us to be and walk in the destiny God has for us.

To him who has ears, let him hear.




Part 5


Several Questions:


Why does God sometimes call himself

The God of Jacob

and then other times

The God of Israel?

- - -

And why does God

in several instances

call out to Jacob

in a Bible verse

and a few words later

call out to Israel?

?

Why does it look like God
is calling to two different people?



Long after Jacob died, God still uses the name "Jacob" in Scripture to symbolize something.

Many times in the Bible, God uses the name "Jacob" and then a few words later he speaks to "Israel." Aren't they the same entity?


Insights:

One day as I was reading the book of Isaiah, I noticed that on multiple occasions, God would pair the names "Jacob" and "Israel" together in a verse - or at least in close proximity.

It was as though God was talking about two separate people or two separate groups of people.


As I continued to analyze this, I came to a hypothesis:


I believe that God puts Christians into two groups.

---

Group 1

When we first dedicate ourselves to the Lord,
we are in the "Jacob" group.
That group values the things of God
but we are not mature in our walk with God.


Group 2

The second group of Christians
are the "Israel" group.
That group has walked with God for a long time and has submitted to a lot of spiritual growth
which has produced lots of changes in their life.


Note: according to my theory, you cannot get into Group 2
without doing a lot of spiritual growth -
no matter how long you have been a Christian.


Look at the following verse:

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; You are Mine."

Isaiah 43:1


It jumps out at me that God says:

"Who created you, O Jacob."

So Jacob he created - he created Jacob in the womb.


Next God says:

"And He who formed you, O Israel."
So Israel has been "formed" or "molded."


Lemme the Potter

Years ago I was a fan of a woman named Lemme the potter. She was a guest on many Christian television shows, and she had a video that shared many deep insights about God from the perspective of a potter.

From Lemme, I learned an enormous amount about God as our Potter.


As I watched Lemme make a clay vessel on

the potters wheel,

I began to understand many things about God.


One thing that I realized was that:

At first
we are nothing but clay.

We are a lump of clay.

That is Jacob.


But when the potter has worked on us for awhile,

we begin to take shape.

God forms us.

He molds us.

We become Israel.


The word translated "formed" in Isaiah 43:1 
is Strong's Hebrew word # 3335.


We see this word translated in Psalm 33:15
as "fashioneth."


"He [God] fashioneth their hearts alike;
he considereth all their worlds.

Psalm 33:15 KJV


Note the word is also translated
17 times in the KJV Bible as "Potter" or "Potter's"


Strong's Hebrew word # 3335 - is translated in the King James Bible as:

form 26 times, potter 17 times, fashion 5 times, maker 4 times,
frame 3 times, make 3 times,

former 2 times, earthen 1 times, and purposed 1 time


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^



As we Submit to God



Submit to God

Resist the Devil

And he will flee from you.

James 4:7



As we Submit to God

we grow spiritually.

Then we realize that we are becoming

more protected from the devil.

Meaning:

People who are becoming godly and wise

make less foolish mistakes and

fall into the devil's hands less often.


(God tells us in Proverbs that there are foolish people and wise people. And wise people listen to God.)


Think of yourself as a clay vessel

that God creates and forms.


God may be forming you

to be a vase, or a pot, or a bowl

to give him glory.


As we submit to God,

he molds us and

we begin to look more and more like the vessel that

God has in mind for us to look like.


Another Example


 "Those who come

He shall cause to take root in Jacob;

Israel shall blossom and bud,

and fill the face of the world with fruit."

Isaiah 27:6 NKJV


Notice that Jacob takes root

but Israel blossoms, buds,

and

fills the world with fruit.



As we submit to God and
become moldable,

we grow in the Fruit of the Spirit

---

The Fruit of the Spirit:

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control





An Application from Lemme the Potter

Lemme used to say that when someone REALLY gives their life to Jesus, they make a FIRM commitment. Then she would illustrate that by slamming a piece of clay on the potter's wheel.

Then Lemme would say,

"Did you hear that commitment?
That piece of clay will not fly off the wheel when I start
the wheel moving, because it is committed."


The Jacob group

has made a firm commitment -

they have taken root.


The more mature Israel group

has begun to show forth the fruit

of a long-term deep relationship with God.



Micah 3:8 seems to agree with my theory.

In Micah 3:8,

it says that:

"Jacob has transgressions"


"Israel has sins." 


Transgressions can be translated: rebellion.


Transgressions vs. sins -

I present my theory below:


Transgressions is the Strong's Hebrew word 06586, and it can be translated "rebellion" or "rebellious act."

Sin is the Strong's Hebrew word 02403, and it can be translated "purifying" or "purification."


#02403 is translated:  sin 182, sin offering 116, punishment 3, purification for sin 2, purifying 1, sinful 1, sinner 1; 296 times

We all sin and come short of the glory of God, but I submit that the Jacob group is working to get rid of their rebellion while the Israel group has gotten rid of much of their rebellion.

For example:

Over the years,

I have noticed that

I have grown to love righteousness and holiness

and obeying God.

I usually don't even WANT to sin.


Also note that the Israel group is more "in touch" with the

rebellion that they do have.

For example:

As I have grown more and more like Jesus,

I notice sins in myself that

young Christians wouldn't even notice.


Sins that young Christians wouldn't even notice:

I notice thoughts of selfishness and self-centeredness that would have been undetectable to me when I was less mature in Christ.

And I am very aware that even though I usually obey God - sometimes I drag my feet. God wants me to quickly do what he has told me to do. 

Young Christians work to get themselves to obey.

Mature Christians work to triumph in obeying quickly.


Names of God



God calls himself certain names


I draw your attention to the fact that

God often calls himself

"The Holy One of Israel." 


Yet he rarely calls himself

"The Holy One of Jacob."


I submit that God may be giving us a clue that those who are

in the "Israel group" have grown

to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

They love and pursue holiness.

______


For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob,

and glorified himself in Israel.

Is. 44:23b


The verse above tells us that

God has redeemed (or purchased) Jacob -

that is something that comes first in our journey with God.


Then the Bible says that God has glorified himself in Israel.

------


For the Jacob group,

God is still working to get them

in the

habit of walking with God daily.

-

As we see in Isaiah 2:5:

O house of Jacob, come ye, and

let us walk in the light of the Lord."


People in the Israel group

show forth more growth,

more right living than the Jacob group.


So in general,

the Israel group glorifies the Lord

more than the Jacob group.


Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower

parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O

forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed

Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel

Isaiah 44:23 KJV


Please note that I am not saying that every single time God uses

both the words "Jacob" and "Israel" in close proximity, that it

always indicates two groups of people in the fashion I have

described.


I am saying that I think in many cases, this is part of the

meaning that God is intending to give us.



The Elect

If you are interested, I have a page

that goes into detail

about who the elect are.