Conflict at the Heart of the Covenant (Genesis 25:12-34)

When Moses wrote Genesis, he structured it very carefully into a series of books, or parts: Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, and so on.

But back in Moses’ time, they did not use chapter divisions like we do today. Instead, they would use certain key phrases to signal the beginning of a new chapter, a new Book.

And the key phrase Moses likes to use is: “This is the account of…”

And so far in Genesis, Moses has used this phrase six times, which means we have completed seven Books.

The first “Book” of Genesis was the story of creation from God’s perspective: how he designed and consecrated the entire universe as his temple.

Book 2 was the account of the heavens and earth when they were created. So Book 2 was the story of creation from a human perspective: how God provided a safe space for Adam and Eve to live in — and how they lost that space.

Book 3 was the account of Adam’s family line: the story of Adam and his sons.

Book 4 was the account of Noah and his family: the story of Noah and his sons.

Book 5 was the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth: the story of Noah’s sons’ sons.

Book 6 was the account of Shem’s family line: the story of one particular son of Noah.

And then Book 7 was the account of Terah’s family line: it was the story of Terah and his sons, which quickly turned into the story of Abraham and his sons.

And if you remember, back when we started into Book 7 — the story of Abraham — we discussed how, in Moses’ culture, the number 7 was a very significant number: it was the number that symbolized completion, fullness, perfection.

And so we noticed, at that time, that Book 7 was designed to be the central masterpiece of Genesis, the high point of Genesis. It explained and expanded on all the six Books that came before, and it serves as the foundation for all the Books that come after — for the rest of the bible, really.

So: congratulations to us all! We have just passed the high point of Genesis, and everything from here on is going to be just a relaxing downhill stroll…

Yeah.

But anyway —

When we look back over the last seven Books of Genesis, we notice another pattern that Moses likes to use: he centers each Book — each extended episode — around a conflict between two persons, between two groups of people.

And this conflict is always about how to inherit the blessings of God. One side of the conflict always says that the best way to inherit God’s blessing is by reaching out and taking it; the other side says that the blessings of God are…an inheritance, freely given by God to his children.

So, in Book 2, we saw this conflict begin between the serpent and Adam. And Adam, the son of God, lost. Then the conflict was passed on to Cain — the serpent’s son — and Abel, who was God’s son. And again, the son of God lost.

Then the conflict continued between Cain — the serpent’s son — and Seth, who was the next son of God. And in Book 3 that conflict was passed down to Cain’s son Lamech — the self-anointed god-king — and Seth’s son Enoch, the God-anointed prophet. And Book 3 ended in a world consumed by violence. It looked as if the sons of God had lost yet again —

But then God stepped in, and brought everything to a stop. In Book 4 he sent Noah — the son of Enoch — to save the children of God from the children of the serpent. God rebooted the system: he created Earth 2.0.

Unfortunately, this did not end the conflict at the heart of mankind: Noah’s son Ham fought against his brothers Shem and Japheth. And that became the story of Book 5, which ended in the ruins of the City of Babel, in a world filled with confusion. Once again, it looked as if the sons of God had lost —

But then: Book 6. God redeemed the family of Shem, the son of Noah. Generation after generation he protected Shem’s family through the expansion and collapse of Ham’s civilization…

Until finally, in Book 7, God called the last son of Shem out of the chaos and confusion of Babel, and led him into a new land. That was the story of Abraham — and the story of the conflict between his sons Ishmael and Isaac. And Book 7, which we just finished last week, ended on a high note: with Isaac living and working in peace in the new land that God has given him.

So here, today, at the beginning of Book 8, it looks as if the children of God have finally won the ancient argument. They have proven that the best way to inherit God’s blessing is not to reach out and take it for yourself! — but to simply be one of God’s children, and wait for him to give you every blessing you need at just the right time.

And so now Moses is going to continue in his customary pattern: he always likes to finish up the story of the bad brother first — and get it out of the way — before going on to focus on the good brother.

Its a bit like how our moms make us eat our vegetables first before moving on to the siew yuk or whatever else we really want to eat.

So let’s get our vegetables out of the way:

[12] This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Ishmael

This is Book 8, the story of Ishmael and his sons. And it turns out that Ishmael produces 12 sons: 12 tribes, 12 nations. Which is a significant number. Because, if you recall, Abraham’s brother Nahor also produced 12 sons.

And this is Moses’ way of saying that, even though these men rejected God and were rejected by God, God still blessed them — simply because they were still distantly related to Abraham.

— and, for those of you who already know the story of Genesis, you already know that the number 12 is going to show up again, and become even more significant…but that is our little secret. Mums the word: we don’t want to spoil the story for everyone else!

What else can we notice about Book 8 here? [17] Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years

— which probably had some symbolic meaning for Moses and his people —

Ishmael dies. He is buried. And his descendants settle in the northern part of the Arabian peninsula.

And they lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them.

…oh. Okay.

So — Moses is telling us — even though Isaac gets to live and work in peace in the land, apparently Ishmael and his sons — outside the land — are going to continue this theme of conflict between brothers.

Isaac, as the son of God in this age, has won the ancient argument: he has proven that the best way to inherit God’s blessing is not to fight and jostle for position and try to win it for yourself. But apparently Ishmael and his sons did not get the memo.

Too bad for them.

But in any case: this is the end of Book 8. This is the end of the story of Ishmael and his sons. And if Moses continues to follow his traditional pattern, they are going to show up later in the story of Isaac and his sons.

We’ll have to wait and see.

But this means that now we get to go back to the good part: we get to rejoin Isaac, and see how he gets to live and work in peace for the rest of his life in the new land that God has given him!

Welcome to Book 9 of Genesis: [19] This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac.

This is the story of Isaac and his sons.

But first, a recap: Abraham became the father of Isaac, [20] and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.

So far so good: Isaac is happily married to Rebekah, this strong young woman who answered God’s call to leave her father’s household and join Isaac’s…

— and, allow me to pause and insert an FYI here: back in Chapter 24, when we first met Rebekah, Moses noted that she was just the right age for marriage, which means she was probably somewhere between 14 and 20 years old. And here Mose notes that Isaac was 40 when he married Rebekah.

And many people in our modern age read this and say, “Really? Ewwww!”

So…I’ve got to point out two things:

First, historically and globally it is fairly common for older men to marry younger women. This is because a man was not considered “grown up” or mature enough to have a wife until he had managed to save up enough resources to support a wife. And this usually only happened when a man was in his late 20’s or 30’s. On the other hand, women were considered “grown up” and ready to marry as soon as they were old enough to have children. So it was common for a groom to be at least 10 years older than his bride. If you recall, Abraham was 10 years older than Sarah.

But, second, we also have to remember that, in Moses’ culture, numbers are often symbolic, and they are often rounded off, especially when it comes to a person’s age. Ancient people did not keep track of birthdays with the same precision we do today: it was very common for someone to not know exactly how old they were. Instead, they broke a man’s life up into general categories: infancy (ages 0 to 5 or so), youth (ages 5 to 20), maturity (ages 20 to 60), and old age (60 and beyond).

So for Moses to say that Isaac was 40 when he married Rebekah is just a way of saying that Isaac was not a youth, nor was he an old man. He was mature, and ready for marriage.

So just as Rebekah was probably somewhere between 14 and 20, Isaac was probably somewhere between his 20’s and 30’s.

But anyway: so far so good —

…except not so good: because Isaac has to pray to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless.

Okay: so apparently Isaac’s life of peaceful labour in the land is not yet completely perfect.

That is a bit disappointing.

Though this does show us that Isaac really is the true son of God in this age: instead of reaching out and trying to force God to give him a son — by, oh, I don’t know: marrying a slave girl, perhaps? — instead of that, Isaac prays and trusts God to provide the children he needs.

And God proves himself faithful: The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.

Yay!

But then [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.

And this word “jostle” that Moses uses here is a really violent word: literally, Moses says the babies were ”crushing” each other, really smashing one another.

The violence is so bad that Rebekah gets really worried, and she follows her husband’s lead: she also prays and asks God, “What is going on?!”

[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.”

Oh noooo…!

Apparently it is not just Ishmael’s sons, outside the land, who are going to live in conflict with one another: apparently, Isaac’s sons, inside the land, are also going to continue this theme of conflict between brothers.

And sure enough: [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

— which sounds like the Hebrew word for “hairy”.

And he is red. So Esau is literally the first angmoh in the bible.

And [26] after this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob

— which sounds like the Hebrew word for “grasper”.

And what Moses is showing us here is that this wrestling conflict between the brothers that began in the womb was carried on all the way through the birth process and out into this world.

This is not a good omen, we could say. This is a foreshadowing of things to come.

And Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.

Which, again, could be his literal age, or it could be generalized, symbolic way of saying that Isaac was heading toward old age before God answered his prayers.

But anyway: [27] The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents.

So Esau is a man’s man, a hunter of animals. He is the kind of guy who reaches out and takes what he wants through violence, which is Moses’ way of hinting to us that Esau is the new Ishmael: Esau is going to be on the wrong side of the ancient argument about how to inherit God’s blessings.

But Jacob is a man of peace, a shepherd who cares for animals. He is the kind of guy who works and then waits for the Lord to provide the proper harvest…

Or is he?

Because: remember, Jacob’s name means “grasper”. It means, “One Who Reaches Out and Takes”. Which is Moses’ way of hinting to us that Jacob is quite a bit like Esau. He is also going to be on the wrong side of the ancient argument about how to inherit God’s blessings.

And to make matters worse: [28] Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

So these parents, instead of teaching their sons how to resolve their conflicts, actually take sides.

This man and his wife, who were once united in their longing for children, have now been driven apart by the very children they were longing for.

Man, this sucks! Moses, why does it have to go like this?

Well, we’ve already started, so we might as well press on: [29] Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. [30] He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)

— because Edom sounds like the Hebrew word for “red”.

[31] Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

Now: what is this birthright?

Well, Esau is the older son, even if by only a few moments. And, according to ancient law, the older son inherits a double share of the father’s property, in addition to the status of becoming head of the clan when the father dies.

And Jacob’s request here shows us that at least one source of their conflict over the years has been: how to inherit their father’s blessing.

I think we can all imagine how their childhood arguments must have gone: where Esau is like, “Hey, one day I’m going to be in charge, and you’ll have to do everything I say!” and Jacob responds with, “That is not fair! You are only a few seconds older than me, why should you get 2/3rds and I get only 1/3? Why should you get to be in charge?”

And so here the old argument comes bubbling back up to the surface, and Jacob makes his play: he reaches out to take what he wants.

[32] “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

He basically says, “Whatever, dude! I’m not going to get to use it anyway!”

But Jacob is not satisfied with just a verbal promise, he wants a contract: he wants a legally binding oath. So Esau gives it to him. [34] Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew.

And there is a joke here at Esau’s expense. Jacob just pranked his brother: he let Esau think the stew was a red stew — a rich meat stew, packed with nutrition — when really it was just a vegetarian dal.

And I think we can all imagine the rage Esau must have felt as he ate and drank his lentil stew, and then got up and left.

Jacob may have won this round…but he had better watch his back.

And then, in closing, Moses makes this comment: So Esau despised his birthright.

Now, Moses makes that comment as if he is telling us something significant, something we did not know before.

But what? We have already figured out that Esau undervalued his inheritance: after all, he just gave it away for a bowl of dal. Though — to be fair — he did think he was dying, and his little brother did manipulate the situation and take advantage of his weakness…

Ah…! But see, that is why Moses made sure to finish with this comment: Moses does not want us to feel sorry for Esau, as if he really was tricked or manipulated. Yes, what Jacob did was wrong! — but Esau did not need to submit to Jacob’s manipulation.

Esau had a choice. He had a real choice: even if he really was starving, he could have trusted God to give him what he needed when he needed it. Like his father Isaac, Esau could have trusted God even to death, knowing that God had the power to raise him back to life.

But, clearly, Esau did not believe this. He thought he needed to save his own life. He thought that his own life was more valuable than his inheritance, and so he gave away his inheritance in order to save his own life.

That is what Moses means when he says that Esau despised his birthright, that Esau undervalued his inheritance: Esau thought that saving his own life was more important than the blessings that come from God’s covenant with Abraham, even though the blessings of God’s covenant included the promise that God would save Esau’s life.

Esau, as Isaac’s oldest son, was in position to become the head of Isaac’s household, just as Isaac had become the head of Abraham’s household. Esau was in position to inherit all the blessings of God’s covenant from his father Isaac, just as Isaac had inherited all the blessings of God’s covenant from his father Abraham. Esau was in position to be the Son of Promise through whom every nation on earth would be blessed, just as Isaac had become the Son of Promise —

But Esau did not care about all that. He did not care about becoming the source of blessing for every nation on earth, he was only interested in becoming a source of blessing for himself. He did not care about leading the surrounding nations into the source of true worship, he was only interested in worshiping himself.

Esau chose to give away the ability to save others…in order to save himself. He despised his birthright.

And so, Moses is telling us, Esau deserves what is going to happen to him. He has made his decision. He has rejected the blessing of relationship with God, and God is going to respect his decision. God is going to give him what he wants.

But now we are going to say, “…okay. But what about Jacob?” Jacob — the grasper, the One Who Reaches Out and Takes — has reached out and taken. Doesn’t that make him exactly like Esau? Doesn’t that mean that he is also a son of the serpent, just like Ishmael, and Ham, and Lamech, and Cain?

Well…yes.

But there is one key difference between the brothers, a difference that Moses wants to highlight with his closing comment here: Esau despised his birthright, but Jacob believes it is valuable enough to fight for. Jacob believes that the covenant blessings of God are valuable enough even to kill for.

Now, Jacob is wrong about that last part: the blessings of God are not the sort of things that can be taken by force. But at least he believes that the blessings of God are worth taking! — which is more than we can say for his brother Esau.

Now: does this make Jacob a better man than Esau?

No. Jacob may value the covenant blessings more than Esau does. But the fact that he thinks he can take them, buy them, earn them, shows that the reason Jacob wants the covenant blessings is so he can spend what he gets on himself. Esau clearly did not care about becoming a source of blessing for the surrounding nations, so he gave away the ability. But Jacob also does not care about becoming a source of blessing to anyone except himself.

And this is Moses’ introduction to Book 9 of Genesis. What Moses has done here, as a writer, is set up the central conflict of this Book. As usual, we have a father and we have his sons. And the story of the next 10 chapters is going to be the story of the conflict between these sons. And the question we are going to be asking is, “Which one is going to win this time?”

Is Esau going to murder Jacob, just as Cain murdered Abel in the beginning? Or is Jacob going to call upon the name of the Lord, just as Seth did, and so be saved?

Will the son of God lose yet again?

The problem for us, at this point in the story, is that neither of these brothers look like the son of God. Esau is violent; Jacob is crafty; both believe in reaching out and taking what you want for yourself. So who are we supposed to cheer for here: the potential murderer, or the corrupt politician?

At this point in the story, it looks as if the ancient serpent has already won, because it doesn’t actually matter which brother wins: they are both corrupt, so the results are going to be horrible!

At this point in the story it looks as if the peace that Isaac inherited from his father — the life of peace and safety and joy in the new garden of Eden — has already been stolen and destroyed…by his own sons.

But Moses has left us just a hint of hope here:

Back when the brothers were already smashing against one another before birth, Rebekah received this explanation from the Lord: “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.”

Now, this prophecy does not sound very much like hope. All it really says is that these brothers — and the nations that come from them — are going to fight, and that in the end the younger one will win.

So: the corrupt politician will beat the potential murderer…

Yay?

But here is our hope: this prophecy reveals that God is in control.

This prophecy reveals that this conflict is all according to God’s ancient plan to redeem mankind. In fact, this prophecy to Rebekah is actually a continuation of God’s ancient promise to Adam and Eve, that one day — after thousands of years of conflict between the sons of the serpent and the sons of God — one day, one of the sons of God will crush the serpent’s head once and for all, and set mankind free from conflict.

This prophecy to Rebekah is a continuation of that ancient promise: there will be conflict between the brothers, between the nations. But in the end, Jacob’s nation will win. Jacob will become the head of Isaac’s household. Jacob will inherit all the blessings of God’s covenant. Jacob will be the Son of Promise through whom the serpent will be crushed and every nation on earth will be blessed.

So this prophecy is meant to comfort us, to remind us that God is in control.

But we modern people have a problem with this, don’t we?

This concept that is meant to be a comfort, we take as an insult. We say, “Wait a minute, how was it fair for God to choose Jacob over Esau while they were still in the womb? That means that Esau was born destined to reject his inheritance! And that’s not fair? Why didn’t he get a choice?”

But Esau did get a choice! We talked about this already: Esau chose to despise his birthright. God did not force him to give away his inheritance, just as God did not force Jacob to cheat his brother out of it. Both of these boys are corrupt. Both of these boys have used their free will to reject the way of the Lord. And so both of these boys deserve to be rejected by God.

The fact that one of these boys is not going to be rejected, the fact that one of these boys is going to be redeemed from his corruption…well, that is not bad news. That is not an insult. That is Good News!

But still we modern people struggle to find this concept comforting.

Our modern global culture tends to take this whole idea that God is in total control as a threat to our free will, as a threat to our ability to make choices in life.

But here’s the thing, friends: this concept is only an insult to people who believe they have the ability to make choices. This concept is only a threat to people who believe they have the power to make choices.

And we modern people are the most powerful people who have ever lived. We have more control over our world, our personal environments, than any people in history. And because we use our extreme control to manipulate and dominate everything below us, when we hear that there is someone above us who has even more extreme control, we assume that he must use that control to manipulate and dominate everything below him.

In other words: because we use our control to limit others’ freedom of choice, we assume that God must be just like us: we assume that he also must use his control to limit others’ freedom of choice.

And for people like us, who have become accustomed to believing that we have power and control over our lives…this concept is our worst nightmare.

To the powerful, the concept of a powerful God is a terrible threat.

But to the powerless — to those who have been denied the ability to make choices about their own lives — to the powerless this concept is not a threat or an insult, it is very Good News. Because this means that even though I may lack the power to break free from the domination of powerful men like Esau — still, God is greater than they are, and he can choose to set me free. I may be a nasty, grasping, corrupt politician like Jacob, manipulated by my own selfish desires — but God is greater than I am, and he can still choose to love me.

Our modern scientific world has taught us to think that the concept of God’s control is a threat to the concept of human freedom, that these ideas are somehow in tension. But they are not. The concept of God’s control is only a threat to our concept of human power. The concept of God’s control is only a threat to us if we believe that the best way to inherit God’s blessing is by reaching out and taking it. The concept of God’s control is only a threat to us if we believe that God only helps those who help themselves.

The concept of God’s control is not a threat to human freedom, it is actually the guarantee of human freedom. It is the guarantee that even if you were born 2nd or 3rd or 20th; even if you were born into a poor family or into a poor nation; even if you were born with physical or mental or emotional disabilities; even though the power structures of this world have been designed to lock us all into place; even so, God’s power, God’s predestination, is the guarantee that it is God — not corrupt mankind! — who decides who will ultimately gain their freedom.

God’s control, God’s ability to choose the younger, weaker brother, is the guarantee that many who are first in this life will come last in the next. It is the guarantee that many who are slaves and refugees in this world will be rulers in the next. It is the guarantee that God does not work according to human expectations, according to human power structures. In fact, this show us that God takes great delight in violating human power structures! God takes great delight in shattering human expectations! He takes great delight in setting people free, people who do not deserve it by any measurement in this world or the next!

This prophecy to Rebekah is meant to give us hope. And it will! — if we are not arrogant, like Esau was, and throw away God’s covenant blessings in order to save our own lives.

This promise that Jacob — nasty, grasping Jacob — is destined to become the son of God is meant to prove to us, yet again, that the only way to become God’s child is not by reaching out and taking it for yourself! — but simply to receive the Father’s love with open hands, undeserving.

But…how? What does that even mean, to receive the Father’s love with open hands: undeserving? Doesn’t that sound like the sort of fluffy nonsense that someone might put on a poster with a picture of a kitten?

Because — correct me if I’m wrong here — a person who is undeserving of God’s love is the kind of person who tries to reach out and take it for themselves. And according to God’s system it is the very act of reaching out and taking that disqualifies a person from becoming God’s child.

To put it another way: the person who is undeserving of God’s love is undeserving because they are a grasper. A grasper lives life with closed hands. A person with closed hands cannot possibly receive God’s love with open hands.

Right?

So this is a contradiction right at the center of the bible! This is a conflict right at the heart of the covenant promises: because it is impossible for people who are born with closed, grasping hands to ever open their hands! And even if they could open their hands, they would do so only so they could reach out and take for themselves…

So this promise that we will become God’s children if we can just open our hands…this comes across like Good News that we can never actually receive. This is like telling someone who has no arms, “Hey, if you just hold out your hand I will give you a million dollars!”

That is horrible, isn’t it?

This is not Good News at all!

Because, if we all take a moment to be honest with ourselves — if you are anything like me — then we all know that we are all born graspers. And try as we might, we are unable to pry our own fingers off the things that we think will save our lives. Our own biological survival instincts will not let us let go.

We are like people clinging to the skids of a rescue helicopter. Below us are the floodwaters rising to swallow the world; ahead of us is the place of peace and safety — but there is still such a long way to go.

And the rescue worker is reaching down out of the door of the helicopter, saying, “Let go of the skid so I can take your hand and pull you inside! You will never be able to pull yourself up, and you will never be able to hold on long enough to make it!”

But we can’t let go. Our brain knows that eventually our grip must weaken and we must fall to our deaths. Our brain knows that the only way to survive is to let go of the skid so the man can lift us up to safety. Our brain tells our hands to let go! — but our hands refuse to obey. We have a death-grip on this thing that is keeping us alive for the moment. We know this salvation is only temporary, we know this moment cannot last, but we are unable to let go and let our Father draw us up into eternal salvation.

So what are we supposed to do when our own hands will not obey us?

Well, I think it’s time for some truly Good News. It’s time for the Gospel.

And here it is: God is in total control.

If God has chosen you for adoption, if God has chosen you to become his child, then he will open your hands to receive his love.

We were asking what it means to receive the Father’s love with open hands, undeserving. We were wondering what that looks like? Well, over the next 10 chapters of Genesis, Moses is going to show us. We are going to watch as nasty, undeserving, grasping Jacob gets his fingers pried open one by one by one. And in the process we are going to discover that Jacob’s conflict is not actually with Esau: Jacob’s conflict is with God himself. God keeps telling Jacob, “Let go so I can save you and bless you!” And Jacob keeps telling God, “Let me save myself and earn your blessing first, then I will let go!”

And in the end, guess who wins that argument?

God does.

And that is Good News! It is Good News that God’s will to save us is stronger than our will to save ourselves. It is Good News for us to realize that, if God has chosen us for adoption, then he will open our hands to receive his love, even though we do not deserve it, even though we don’t know how.

But still, we sometimes have mixed feelings about this. Because sometimes we are haunted by this question: what if I am not Jacob in the story of my life? What if I am Esau? What if God has predestined me to ultimately reject him, and to be rejected by him?

Allow me to offer three potential answers to this question:

First, if you are asking this question, then this is a good sign that the Spirit of God is at work in you. This is a good sign that, like Jacob, you see your Father’s blessing as valuable — even if you do not yet know how to open your hands to receive it.

Second, if you are baptized, then your adoption papers have been signed for you by your Father! He has already claimed you, and named you. You belong to him — even if you do not yet know how to open your hands to receive it.

And third, if you keep having experiences in your life where God is asking you to give up things that are precious to you, if you keep finding yourself praying prayers like, “Oh, no, God, what are you doing? Don’t take that away, I can’t live without that!” — then, you know what: Good News! You are Jacob. God is your Father. And he is committed to opening your hands finger by finger until you are finally ready for him to take you and lift you up to glory.

Over the next 10 chapters, Moses is going to prove to us, through the life of Jacob, that everyone God foreknows, he also predestines; everyone he predestines he also calls; everyone he calls, he also justifies; and everyone he justifies, he also pries their fingers open one by one until they are finally able to receive his love with open hands.

That is our Good News. That is our hope.

We are going to be talking a lot more about these things over the next few weeks. So make sure to come back for that. 

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