Summary: We usually like for things to stay the same. However, sometimes an exchange takes place for our good. Some things need to be “Switched!”
Text: Genesis 25:21-26; 32:24, 27-28; 35:14-18
Gen. 25:21 Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.
23 The LORD said to her,
"Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger."
24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob (Which means he grasps the heel - figuratively, he deceives, surplantor, cheater, trickster). Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.
Gen. 32:24, 27-28 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 27 The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered. 28 Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
Gen. 35:14-18 14 Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel. 16 Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. 17 And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, "Don’t be afraid, for you have another son." 18 As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.
Psalm 16:11 – at Your right hand are pleasures for evermore!
I. The Switch
As I mentioned last week Jacob (Israel) made a switch on his death bed. He placed Ephraim in front of his older brother Manasseh. He switched his hands and the implications of that switch caused Ephraim to fulfill his name which meant “Doubly Fruitful.”
Names . . . we choose them without thought. We select them based on how they sound or go with the last name to which they will be attached or because someone else we know had the name. Yet, in Scripture names and their meanings were extremely important. Over and over again you can find powerful meanings and literal results produced by names (Abishai – the father of a gift; Hosea had three children whose names revealed God’s attitude and action toward Israel. Jezreel means “God scatters”, Loruhmah means “Not loved” and Loammi means “Not my people.”)
Yet perhaps the best known example of the power of a name is the one I read to you from Genesis 25 and 32. Isaac and Rebekah conceive twins and from that moment the two boys began to jostle for position and fight for prominence. Jacob comes out holding the heel of his brother trying to pull him back and precede him in birth. So the parents name him Jacob! And for the next few decades this young man lives down to the implications of his name . . . trickster, deceiver, surplantor, liar, and schemer. His life is littered with one deceit after another. He tricks his brother out of the birthright. He deceives his father to get the patriarchal blessing. He tricks his uncle so that he gets the stronger sheep in his flocks and by doing so becomes prosperous by using deceitful tactics. Years marked and shaped by his name. He could never seem to escape from the implications of being Jacob. Until the day He wrestled with God and his name is changed or switched. From that day forward he leaves his “Jacob” lifestyle, attitude, and mentality and begins to live up to his new name, “Israel”. He, better than most, knew the power of a name. So this new name shapes the rest of his life. Israel the father of a nation, God’s chosen ones, separate and holy. He becomes a patriarch of the faith and blessings are pronounced at the mention of his name – The God of Abraham, Isaac, and yes Jacob!
This brings me to the second switch that I want to talk to you about. Shortly after having his name and life changing wrestling match with God, Jacob and Rachel become pregnant. You need to remember that is was Rachel that Jacob loved. You will remember that he worked for his uncle Laban for 7 years in exchange for the right to marry Rachel, but you will also remember that Laban deceived the deceiver and sends the original “Ugly Betty” Leah into the marriage chamber instead. Jacob wakes up the next morning and realizes he is married to a woman he doesn’t love and so he repeats the entire process. Another 7 years are worked to get the woman of his dreams.14 years of hard work for the love of Rachel. Rachel, however, is barren while Leah is extremely fruitful. Leah gives birth to 6 sons and a daughter before Rachel ever has the first son Joseph. Her inability to have children for so long causes her to feel second best, passed over and forgotten, but now God has remembered her. He is leveling the playing field. Favor has come once again. It is with a gleam in her eyes, an unending smile stretched across her face, and with the glow of pregnancy that she announces to Jacob “I am pregnant.” The love of his life has come back to life again. Their dreams are being fulfilled. The life is full. Their love is productive!