Faithlife Sermons

Jacob's Journey

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Opening Illustration

 A young soldier and his commanding officer got on a train together. The only available seats were across from an attractive young woman who was travelling with her grandmother. As they engaged in pleasant conversation, the soldier and the young woman kept eyeing one another. The attraction was obviously mutual. Suddenly the train went into a tunnel and the car became pitch black. Immediately two sounds were heard: the "smack" of a kiss, and the "whack" of a slap across the face.
 The grandmother thought "I can't believe he kissed my granddaughter, but I'm glad she gave him the slap he deserved." The commanding officer thought, "I don't blame the boy for kissing the girl, but it's a shame that she missed his face and hit me instead." The young girl thought, "I'm glad he kissed me, but I wish my grandmother hadn't slapped him for doing it." And as the train broke into the sunlight, the soldier could not wipe the smile off his face. He had just seized the opportunity to kiss a pretty girl and slap his commanding officer and had gotten away with both!
Ahh … Deception! Good when you can get away with it! Or is it?
Well the passage we are looking at this morning has plenty of that .. people deceiving each other .. but the worse of it is not a slap in the face
Jacob’s Journey .. and it’s a miserable story .. as Jacob goes from one disaster to another .. we need to keep in mind that God is SOVEREIGNLY working in the lives of all the people here .. and their actions are their RESPONSIBILITY

All In the Family .. Blessing Through Deception

Jacob is in line for blessing .. even though the YOUNGER of the twins
Let’s pick it up in chapter 27
vv.1-4 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.” “Here I am,” he answered.
Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. Now then, get your weapons—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.
Rebekah overhears this and wants Jacob and to have what is rightfully his .. well sort of. ..
The whole account is dripping with deceit .. it’s not the real meal .. not the real man .. mum cooks, skins are wrapped on Jacob’s arms and neck and mum gives Jacob Esau’s good clothes
Jacob feels and smells like Esau .. and after repeated questions “You are my son Esau aren’t you??”” … Jacob lies his way into the blessing – Yes .. of course!
Isaac says v.27 “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed. May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness— an abundance of grain and new wine. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”
Exit Jacob and in comes Esau and he is seething .. cries out and weeps when he finds out that for the second time he has been cheated .. birthright & blessing
Rebekah wants to save the skin of her beloved Jacob .. and find him a nice girl .. not one of these Hittite hussies .. and packs him off to uncle Laban
As Ch.28 opens Isaac seems to be operating as though ALL IS FORGIVEN .. vv3-4 May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien, the land God gave to Abraham.”
Chapters 29-31 detail Jacob’s FAMILY .. and it starts at a well .. the place where you meet the right women remember
Jacob falls in love with Rachel .. who happens to be Laban’s daughter
Jacob gets a bit of his own medicine in Ch.29 .. he makes a deal with Laban to marry Rachel after 7 yrs working for him, which he does .. and on the wedding night he realises that he’s married Leah .. the older daughter with the weak eyes .. NOT Rachel
Laban has done a Jacob on Jacob! So Jacob storms off to confront Laban .. who says .. “Oops sorry … forgot to tell you .. where we come from you can’t marry the younger daughter before the older one is married” .. Hmmm
Jacob finally gets Rachel too .. not 2 for the price of 1 BUT another 7 yrs hard labour
NOW .. Rachel is barren .. HOWEVER .. “unloved” ..”weak-eyed” Leah is a good breeder “God opens her womb” we are told … and then there is rivalry between the girls … they also offer Jacob their maidservants Zilhah and Bilhah
Eventually God opens Rachel’s womb .. Jacob gets a bit dizzy keeping up .. BUT at last the PROMISES are making a bit more sense .. some stars are appearing in the sky
Jacob eventually ends up with 12 sons .and 1 daughter Dinah.
Jacob’s FAMILY and FLOCKS keep increasing .. and the Lord adds to all his has so that he is soon very wealthy and he has to flee from Laban .. not enough room in one country for these wheelers and dealers .. and the LORD comes to Jacob and tells him to go back to the land of his fathers
So what are we to learn from this journey of Jacob?
The moral of the story is not that good people are always rewarded is it?
Jacob’s journey has been from one hard place to the next … his deception has come back to bite him on a number of times .. he couldn’t wait for God’s direction .. His work .. He had to scheme and plan
Yet at the end of the day there is a severe mercy here ..
There are 2 really important scenes in his life that underscore this mercy .. this grace
Stairway to Heaven .. Gen.28 .. Jacob’s deceived Esau .. he’s fleeing his brothers anger .. on the way to Paddan Aram .. he stops for the night at a place called Bethel “House of God” .. and God shows Himself in a dream .. stairway going up to heaven .. angels going up and down .. Listen to the promise “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
The same promises made to Abraham & Isaac .. are now HIS .. God is FAITHFUL to His promise
Wrestling With GodGen 32 .. Jacob’s about to meet Esau and Jacob wrestles with a “man” ..he soon learns this is God in human form .. as day breaks Jacob will not let the man go until he is blessed and the angel .. Jacob is called ISRAEL = God strives or struggles .. and he limps away
Jacob struggles BUT survives …
God has chosen this man Jacob and loved and blessed him
Jacob left home speaking of the God of his fathers .. he comes back humbled and changed … speaking about God as his God .. the God of Israel
It’s important here to see how these events fit into the BIG PICTURE .. from this deceptive con-artist .. this weedy smooth talking liar .. comes a family .. 12 sons and a daughter .. the 12 sons will develop into 12 tribes of Israel
What we see is the way in which the LORD is in control of all the fabric of life .. the MESSY events that happen as the actions and consequences our rebellious selves
Friends .. nothing has changed! Think about your life .. your choices .. your decisions
We may have done some seriously silly things .. things we greatly regret .. things that have had consequences that haunt us everyday
Other things God allows that are the result of living in this BROKEN WORLD .. CANCER .. CHEMOTHERAPY .. death of a LOVED ONE caused by some drunken driver or a fatal mistake in hospital
Our lives are moulded by all these events .. we learn these lessons in life at the WISE hand of God and we can’t question God’s WISDOM in orchestrating our lives to make us understand and love Him .. to honour Him .. so we will more closely KNOW HIM
You may have contributed a lot to the mess of your life .. which has been deceit and lies .. maybe it is greed that has it’s grip on you .. maybe your anger has caused problems in your relationships .. friendships .. marriage .. family .. maybe pride is there
Despite the mess .. we see the character of our God .. He is merciful .. He is gracious … there’s not a whole life of penance that you have to do .. it’s confessing sin and repenting
This is the Lord who says .. Come to Me .. whoever you are .. whatever you’ve done
We have to get a grip on the GRACE of God ...
The hope we have is CHRIST JESUS .. Jesus is the first born .. who left the blessing of heaven and dies on the cross taking our place .. Jesus punished for OUR sin and now we are clothed in His righteousness .. accepted as if we were always part of the family Heb 12 22-23 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant. .. we get the first born’s blessing .. the family of God is a family of first born’s .. treated like the the first born son .. neverything that is his … is ours
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