The topic for this page is:
Exploring the Mysteries
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 has captured my attention.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about Jacob.
I invite you to consider the mysteries of Jacob
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.
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'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.
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 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 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 wanted to get all that he could get from his parents and from God.
Jacob took seriously
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
How can we understand the following from a loving God?
God loved Jacob.
God hated Esau.
Malachi 1:2-3 and Romans 9:13
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 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.
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
Jacob wrestles with God.
How do I understand the story of
Jacob wrestling with God?
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.
When my son was young, he loved to wrestle with his daddy. Each wrestling 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."
"supplanter or heel holder."
taking something that doesn't belong to you.
Jacob is given the name
Next, the supernatural being told Jacob that his name would no longer be "Jacob" but "Israel."
(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."
Jacob had wrestled and waited all night for the blessing he wanted.
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
why did God give that name to Jacob?
The name "Israel" is symbolizing that
Jacob is no longer
living a life of rebellion
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.
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.
Wrestling with our fleshly, sinful desires.
One day after I had gone through many maturing experiences with God, I reviewed the story of Jacob wrestling 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.
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?
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.
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.
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."
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:
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
"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
Submit to God
Resist the Devil
And he will flee from you.
As we Submit to God
we grow spiritually.
Then we realize that we are becoming
more protected from the devil.
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.
"Those who come
He shall cause to take root in Jacob;
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,
fills the world with fruit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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
I am saying that I think in many cases, this is part of the
meaning that God is intending to give us.
If you are interested, I have a page
that goes into detail
about who the elect are.