Summary: This is part four of our series from Hebrews 11 and focuses on Jacob and how his life changed for the better
Every story has a beginning and we can find this story begining in Genesis 25:24 And when the time came to give birth, Rebekah discovered that she did indeed have twins! And those twins were mentioned in the scripture that was read earlier. Hebrews 11:20 It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.
Now the story didn’t have a really great beginning. If you think you have problems getting your kids to get along you ain’t’ seen nothing. This was the family that put the fun in dysfunctional. Sometimes I will be talking to a parent and they will be describing their kids fighting and say “I don’t understand it, they got along great until . . .” But with Jacob and Esau they were at each other’s throats almost from day one.
We should start at the beginning because the beginning is usually the best place to begin, and so we read in Genesis 25:24-26 And when the time came to give birth, Rebekah discovered that she did indeed have twins! The first one was very red at birth and covered with thick hair like a fur coat. So they named him Esau. Then the other twin was born with his hand grasping Esau’s heel. So they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when the twins were born.
Kind of a cute thing that Rebekah did, not. Esau sounds like the Hebrew word of hairy, and Jacob meant heel grabber, which was a colloquial term for someone who couldn’t be trusted, a deceiver, and a manipulator. The name of her second son became a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we continue to read we discover the two boys had a bad case of sibling rivalry. And this wasn’t something new, listen to the description of Rebekah’s pregnancy. Genesis 25:22-23 But the two children struggled with each other in her womb. So she went to ask the Lord about it. “Why is this happening to me?” she asked. And the Lord told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.”
Now in hindsight we see how the prophecy came to be fulfilled, how Jacob would go on to become one of the religious leaders that the Jews would look back to as a man of God. He would be included in both of the genealogies of Christ, would be spoken of in Hebrews chapter 11 as a champion of the faith, and would receive over 360 mentions in the Old and New Testament alike.
But it wasn’t always like that, sometimes we look at these folks in Hebrews 11 and figure that they had it all under control. The reality is that Jacob’s early life was a little bit like this (Use clip from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.)
You’ve probably clued in by now right? The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde was written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886 and became the basis of numerous movies. Including the clip I just showed that was from 1932 . The very names of Jekyll & Hyde have come to represent a duality of nature. The good and evil side that lurks inside each person. This was an idea that Stevenson had toyed with for a while; what would happen if you could separate the evil from the good, or for that matter the good from the evil. The horrifying conclusion that Stevenson came to is that when you are operating in your own strength that evil can overcome the good if given a chance. When Mr. Hyde was turned loose he took over Dr. Jekyll’s complete being.
Stevenson’s novel is a classic, it’s still being read a hundred and twenty five years after it was written and even people who haven’t read the book or seen the movie know the story line, and the term Jekyll & Hyde has crept into common usage in the English language. But even though it is a classic story it isn’t all that original.
The dual nature of man has been a reality since the beginning of time, when we first meet Adam and Eve’s son Cain he is worshipping God and then just 5 verses later he murders his brother. The Bible is full of Jekyll & Hyde behavior. Men and women who struggle with the desire to do what is right while trying to rein in the compulsion to do what is wrong.
Probably every person who has chosen to follow Christ has felt that struggle at some time. But one of the best scriptural examples of this Jekyll & Hyde behavior would be Jacob. Son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham, twin brother of Esau. The very same Jacob who is listed in Hebrews 11 as a hero of the faith.