Summary: Life is often disappointing. Is God the one to blame for this?
With spring hopefully coming around the corner, you can usually expect to hear more and more about the local high school’s senior prom. Unfortunately, you may also begin to hear of some of those girls being sorely disappointed by the dress they had ordered. It is not all that uncommon for someone to find what they think is a beautiful dress online for a great deal, and decide to order it. Kind of like this one here (show first picture). But, what ends up coming is nothing like picture but turns out more like this (show second picture).
Life unfortunately can be filled with these kinds of disappointments. Some of them are simply frustrating like getting a terrible prom dress, but others of them leave you almost hopeless. For us as believers, God seems to be the worst culprit of this of all. So, as we look at the person of Jacob today, we have to ask, “How can God be so cruel to his own?”
If there were anyone whom it would seem God would take special care of in this world, you would assume God would do so for those in the line of the Savior. God’s number one priority in the Old Testament was making sure that the Savior of the world was to come. And because of various difficulties and dangers, it would have been very easy for this never to take place. So, again, you would assume that God would go above and beyond even what he typically does for his people to keep that line in particular safe.
Looking at Jacob, who was part of this line, you may expect that God would’ve had maybe even more reason to do this for him, though. For one, Jacob was someone God had been planning on for some time. When his mother was pregnant, she began to notice something strange about her pregnancy and asked God about it. He let her know that within her womb were found two nations, and that the older son would end up serving the younger. From before Jacob was even born, God had set him apart as special.
Not only that, but God let Jacob’s mother, Rebekah, know that this trouble she noticed, the two boys jostling within her womb, was an indication of further trouble to come. These two boys who would establish nations of their own, would eventually be separated from one another. As you look at the history of them, with Jacob and Esau, you can see what God exactly meant by that.
From early on, it was obvious that these two boys had their differences. Esau was a hunter, and thus a man after his own father’s heart. Jacob was a homebody, and got along better with his mother. The problem here was that it was the father, Isaac, and not the mother who would pass down the birthright and blessing of being within the Savior’s line. From the get-go, things did not look good for Jacob.
Then, when Jacob and his mother realized the desperate nature of what was happening, they took the matter into their own hands. Since Isaac was old and could no longer see, Jacob was able to deceive him, pretending to be Esau so that he would receive the blessing of being in the line. Although Isaac had his suspicions about the situation, he ended up blessing Jacob anyways, still thinking he was Esau. Obviously, this did nothing to help settle the differences between the two brothers.
Finally, shortly before our lesson takes place, Isaac was about to die. Esau was obviously distraught, as any son would be. But, his grief turned to anger, and he sought to comfort himself in this trying time by the thought of murdering his brother Jacob. When Jacob learned about this, he said goodbye to both his father and mother, and set off to the distant homeland of his mother, 500 miles to the north.
As one of the articles in the Forward in Christ indicates, Luther had to look at this account and think: “God must be a liar.” I mean, what other conclusion could you come to? God is cruel to those who are his own. For one, you have Esau. A man who obviously did not follow the ways God had set forth. And yet, he is able to retain all his familiar comforts. He was not the one who had to leave. No, he got to remain with his wives and with his father and mother, to see them off in death. Esau was the one who got to carry on as if nothing happened, even probably receiving all the inheritance of his father as if he had received the blessing and not Jacob.
Compare that then to Jacob, the one God had set apart for himself. The land which Jacob had been promised? He had to flee from it. The nation? Jacob wasn’t even married. He had no son. And the Savior? Again, it’s pretty hard to have a line come from you when God hasn’t even blessed you with children. What was the point? Why even have the blessing? It didn’t seem to be doing him any good. In fact, it appeared that God was kind to those who turned on him, but to those who loved him, God gave only hardships and troubles.