The Jacob Stories 2

Today's Bible reading: Genesis 32:9-12

There's a nice touch of irony and humor in the accounts of Jacob’s stay with his father-in-law, Laban: the trickster is himself outwitted, when he finds himself with the wrong bride on his wedding night!  He then has to work for another seven years to gain his beloved Rachel.  Jacob finally beats his father-in-law at his own sly game.  His flocks increase with prize stock while Laban is trying to defraud him.  Finally, he flees with his two wives, children, and large flocks while Laban's back is turned.  Even Rachel deceives her father!  Right up to the potentially dangerous reunion with Esau, Jacob is seen conniving to save himself and his favorite wife, Rachel.

All of this seems like a rather human story, doesn't it?   Jacob’s wives - Leah and Rachel - also plot and scheme to present their husband with children.  But, finally, we understand that it is more than a story of human trickery and intrigue.  In all these adventures God is blessing Jacob.  The promises to Abraham are being fulfilled in a strange way!  When Jacob considers all that God has done for him, he is moved to express his unworthiness to receive God's blessing.  He speaks the truth: he is in no way worthy of all God's love and faithfulness.  Yet what does he do: He clings to God's promises.  In Genesis 32:12, we find Jacob bargaining with God.  He says: “But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude’.”  It seems as though Jacob is back to his old scheming … and yet, he has every right to hold up before God the promise made to Abraham and Isaac.  Faith simply says: “God, I know that you cannot deny your own goodness!”

Prayer: Lord, teach us to pray!  Amen.