Summary: Jacob obtains a blessing by trickery, but is still included in God’s chosen people.
Today’s society has an interest in the “anti-hero hero.” Usually our heroes have been upstanding people. For example, we have Clark Kent the mild manner reporter, or James T. Kirk the anti-authoritarian, but fiercely loyal captain of the Starship Enterprise. In their place we now have the slightly psychotic Bruce Wayne as Batman, Peter Parker the troubled and struggling youth who is Spiderman, and the eccentric genius but personal jerk Tony Stark who becomes Ironman.
These marred individuals would fit right in to our story today. Though Jacob is one of the patriarchs, or founding fathers, of the Jewish nation, we see his true, not-so-nice nature in the text for today.
THE LIER AND TRICKSTER
Our text today consists of two scenes. The first scene is Jacob’s trick on his father, and the second is his encounter with God. This is not the first time we have seen Jacob, however. We have his birth story, which relates that he was the second born twin, who came out of his mother’s womb hanging on to his brother’s heel. We also read where Jacob took advantage of his older brother and stole his brother Esau’s birthright, or position as primary heir in the family.
Jacob’s (whose name means “liar”) trickery continues in our text. Isaac is old and near death. Before he dies he wants to bless his elder son, Esau. He asks Esau, who is a great hunter, to prepare his favorite dish. When Esau leaves, Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, and Jacob plot a scheme, to steal Esau’s blessing. Jacob is a fair skinned mama’s boy. His mother dresses him up in goat skins to make him hair like his brother. She then cooks a meal for Jacob to take to his father. Jacob does so, and receives Isaac’s blessing, or commendation to God.
We have seen that most of the Biblical heroes have an Achilles heel—a weak point or moral lapse. Moses murdered and Egyptian overseer who was beating a Hebrew slave. David seduced Bathsheba and killer her husband, Uriah. Peter denied Jesus and Paul persecuted Christians. Jacob is different, though, from the others. His character is that of a cheat and liar. Jacob is the type of person from whom your parents and investigative reporters on the evening news told you avoid. Robbing the elderly of their life savings, or scamming the flood and wildfire victims would be right up his alley.
The shocking thing of Jacob’s story is that God chooses him to be the recipient of God’s blessing and to be a patriarch of the Jewish people. God decides to extend his love and his grace to Jacob—and not his judgment and wrath.
After being robbed of his blessing, Esau vows to kill Jacob. Jacob runs for his life.
Jacob finds himself in a deserted, desert place. He’s between his home and his destination—the Uncle Laban’s home. All of Jacob’s lying and trickery has really got him nothing. He’s not rich, powerful, or happy. Instead he’s scared, destitute, and depressed.