Genesis 25:19-24 – Preaching from ChristChurch London’s Sunday Service
We’re continuing the series we started last Sunday about the life of Isaac. And so we’re going to get straight to work in Genesis Chapter 25, reading from verse 19 to the end of the chapter. And we’ll pause to discuss things as we go.
19 This is the account of Abraham’s son Isaac. 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. 21 Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. (Genesis 25:19-21)
Let’s stop right there. How in the world can Rebekah be barren? Lord how can Isaac’s wife, of all people, possibly be barren? Lord, Isaac’s wife has got to have kids. Everything hinges on that Lord. Lord, you said that Isaac was going to have so many descendants that they would become your missionary nation to bless the whole world. If Rebekah doesn’t get pregnant Lord, then there’s no Jacob, no twelve tribes of Israel, no Jesus and no salvation from sin. Lord unless Rebekah gives birth, the whole Bible is going to come to a screeching halt in Genesis chapter 25. We won’t even get to Exodus Lord! Lord your whole plan for human history is totally and uttery dependant on Rebekah having at least one child. So how can Rebekah be barren? Lord, have you forgotten your promise?’
Can you imagine how Rebekah must have felt? Rebekah must have felt deserted by God.
Have you ever felt like that? OK I imagine most of you can’t relate to the predicament of barren-ness, but about something else. Think of a different example. A job. A career. A ministry in the church.
‘Lord, have you forgotten what you said to me 5 years ago?’ ‘Lord you promised me X, Y or Z.’
Have you ever felt like that? I have.
So here, Isaac’s in a situation that you and I sometimes find ourselves in. God’s promised us something. We’re pretty sure we’ve heard from God about it, but it’s not happening.
And as time goes by the pressure begins to mount. Now just to lighten the mood, it’s like being a contestant on Countdown on Channel 4. There’s no pressure at the start. It’s only daytime TV after all. You’ve got the re-assuring presence of Des O’Connor’s sitting next to you. Carol Vordeman’s smiling at you. You say: “Consonant please Carol.” She says: “S.” “Vowel please Carol,” “E”. “Consonant please, and so until you’ve got your 7 letters. And 30 seconds seems like masses of time to find any word using some of those 7 letters. Shouldn’t be too hard.
CUE: Countdown 30 second sting music
In the same way, when you’ve got a promise from God, but it’s not come true yet. It’s easy at the start, because there’s lots of time left. There’s no panic at this stage. God is faithful, and he has promised. But the clock’s ticking, and then you worry – maybe God won’t pull through for me? Oh no, maybe I’m going to miss out. I’m going to be a loser in the game of life.
De-der De-Der Diddla-dah. Game Over. Des O’Connor asks how many letters you’ve got in your word, and your opponent has got a 7 letter word S-U-C-C-E-S-S “success.” And all you could manage was a two letter word. So you lose.
Or at least that’s your fear. My friend, your fear is that you are going to miss out. Your fear is that you are going to lack something good. That you’re going to have to go without – forever! You fear that God will provide for other people, but not for you!
But Isaac didn’t give in to his fears.
And this is one of Isaac’s finest moments: He doesn’t repeat the mistake that his Father Abraham made when Abraham was in exactly the same situation. You see Sarah, like Rebekah, was barren. She couldn’t have kids. But as a result, Abraham made a huge blunder. Rather than trusting God and waiting patiently, when it came to the [de-der de-da der der] moment, Abraham panicked and he got into bed with Hagar.
Maybe you’re single, and your biggest desire is for a Christian husband or a Christian wife. But it’s not happening. And to make matters worse, right now, there is absolutely no-one on the scene. In fact you can’t remember the last time you met a suitable Christian of the opposite sex who you fancied, and who fancied you. And so time passes, you’re doing fine, believing God. ‘Hagar, hah! She’s not God’s best for me.’ Months pass, still ‘believing God’, but as years go by, well let’s be honest, getting together with Hagar begins to have a certain appeal. Even as a last resort. You come here on a Sunday and it’s announced that someone else has got engaged. So you’re like: “Whoo Hoo! You getting engaged makes me feel so much better! Not!” And so we think to ourselves: “Maybe getting together with Hagar is better than nothing?”
Who knows, maybe there’s some non-Christian girl, or non-Christian guy who you’ve felt attracted to? And what’s more, they’re available. Like Hagar. Hagar was available.
And so here’s how it works. If you’re holding out for a Jesus-loving, Bible-carrying husband or wife, and it’s not happening, then as time goes by, you find yourself wondering, like Abraham did, ‘maybe I can sleep with Hagar and stay in the will of God after all, somehow. And maybe God’s will can come to pass anyway, through Hagar. Maybe God will bring about his promise, but not in the way I was expecting. So maybe getting into bed with Hagar is OK after all.’
And by this stage you can hear the clock ticking. So let’s do the Maths on Isaac. How old was he when he got married? 40. How old was he when the promise came true? (Just read ahead a few verses) 60. He was 60 when the promise came true! So 60 minus 40 is 20. That means he waited 20 years. But the verdict of the Bible is that it was worth the wait. Sleeping with Hagar looks like a solution, but it leads to disaster. If you read Genesis, you’ll find it leads to a child called Ishmael. And being Ishmael is absolutely no fun.
Folks, I’m not suggesting that every Christian single is desperate to get married. They’re not. I’m not even assuming that every Christian single wants to get married. But I have Christian friends who ended up getting together with Hagar and they would say the result was cataclysmic devastation. Because when you get involved with someone outside the will of God, there are consequences.
So, what am I saying? I’m saying, ‘yes, following the God of the Bible is often hard.’ As Rebekah is discovering here in Genesis 25. Twenty years of waiting and praying. And all through those twenty years there are no ‘click here’ answers. There are no drive-through breakthroughs. Just pray and trust God.
‘Adrian, you have no idea how hard it is being a single Christian woman who wants to get married.’
I agree. Take Isaac by contrast. Isaac is 60 years old when he becomes a father for the first time. But Isaac is a man, and if you’re a woman you can hear the Countdown clock ticking pretty loudly way before you reach 60. The other day, I was told that the average age of a woman giving birth at Chelsea and Westminster hospital, is 38. I’m like: “The average is 38? You say: “Adrian, even if I was rich enough to live in Chelsea, I wouldn’t want to wait til I’m 38?”
I understand. And that’s one of the reasons why I have given my life to trying to win non-Christian men to Christ. And with God’s help, I’ve won quite a few over the years. In fact, some of them are in this church.
Here’s how I see it, the Christian life starts like a wonderful cruise on the ocean. But this cruise-liner doesn’t go round in circles, no this cruise is going somewhere. The destination is heaven, and Jesus is the captain of the ship, and there are loads of people on board.
But after a few laps round the deck, you realize many of the unmarried passengers don’t look normal. Their shorts are too tight. They wear combinations of clothes that most people would never choose. They ask you strange inappropriate personal questions or they stare at their shoes when they talk to you because they’re so embarrassed. And you think, “oh, no, does this mean my destiny is strange-ness?” Then you meet a female passenger who tells you that a year ago, she dived off the bridge of the ship, swam 15 miles to the nearest island, converted one of the natives, and then they both swam 15 miles back to the boat and got safely on board. You think! Aha! I was pretty good at swimming at school.
Folks don’t be fooled, in my experience for every girl who dives off the ship, swims to the island, converts one of the natives and then they both swim safely back, in my experience there are 4 or 5 who drown at sea in the process.
Yes it is hard, but God is real, and we’re going to see before we’re finished today what he will do for you. And it’s worth it. And one day, you will say, “it was worth it. I’m so glad, I didn’t throw myself off the side of the ship.” One day, you will say: “it was worth it, every single minute on board was worth it.”
So you can try and make it happen through your own strength, or you can pray it in like Isaac did.
Isaac trusts God. And God comes through for him.
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?” (Genesis 25:21-22)
[But then look what happens next]
How many of you have prayed that prayer? “Lord, why is this happening to me?” How many of you, have knelt on your bedroom floor, at a time of crisis in your life and said out loud to God: “Why is this happening to me?” There are perplexing circumstances in the Christian life.
Rebekah’s like, “Lord, what’s with the twins? One child is all that’s needed to fulfill the promise. And Lord, why are these twins fighting each other in my womb? Lord, couldn’t you make it all a bit more straightforward?”
But again, when the pressure’s on Rebekah, [De da der da der dah] like her husband, Isaac, Rebekah gets it right.
So she went to inquire of the LORD.
She goes to God. And this is a helpful lesson we learn from Isaac and Rebekah.
You know the best pastoral sermon I ever heard was by a man called John Kilpatrick, on this subject. It was called, “the 4 words that have helped me most.” They all began with P.
The first P is Promise – God gives you something in promise form. Your faith rises. You believe God. But not every promise is instantly fulfilled.
The second P is Principle – God now shows you a principle upon which the promise works. You now understand the scriptural principle behind the promise.
The third P is Problem – God then puts a road-block in your path which seems to prevent you from receiving what God has already promised you. Why? Because God wants to develop your faith. Because there’s something that’s even more important than you getting what you want, it’s that you learn to trust God when circumstances look bleak. You and I learn to trust God in adversity. I’ve never learnt anything about tenacity in prayer and dependence on God when everything is fine and dandy! So God uses the problem to develop our faith and trust in him.
The fourth and final P is Provision – After you’ve learned to trust God in the absence of any visible encouragements to faith, he suddenly provides for you, and the promise is fulfilled. And you actually end up grateful that you’ve gone through the process, because you’re so much closer to God, which feels great, and it pays off in every other area of your life. You’re genuinely glad that you went through the problem stage.
I can’t tell you how much that’s helped me. 4 Ps – Promise, Principle, Problem, Provision.
And you see that sequence in the life of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph to name a few. And here Rebekah’s at the very end of the problem stage. “How come I’m having twins? And why are they fighting each other?”
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. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.
27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
OK, so Rebekah has twins but they are not identical.
Esau is a real man. A man’s man. Esau likes hunting, the great outdoors. If I met Esau today, he’d say to me, “Adrian, you wimp, let’s slap oil on our bodies, and wrestle bare-chested by the fire. And then let’s ride out on horses, and kill lions with our bear hands. And then Adrian, let’s play rugby, and throw spears at each other, to the death.”
Esau, doesn’t own a car. Esau owns a truck. And Esau’s truck does 4 miles to the gallon, but he doesn’t care, because he’s a man. I say: “Oh Easu, but what about the low emission zone?” He says “I don’t care, because I’m a man.” I say: “Esau, aren’t you concerned about your carbon footprint?” He says: “No you wimp. But you should be concerned about my pet snake!” Ah-ha. Esau listens to Gangster Rappers and death metal. Esau eats fire. Esau gargles with rat poison just for fun, and Esau can burp the entire alphabet – backwards.
But Jacob, he’s different. Jacob’s a mummy’s boy. He’s not a hunter. He doesn’t like the cold. He uses facial creams. He wears Calvin Klein underpants. He stays among the tents, because he doesn’t want to lose his broadband connection. He doesn’t drive a truck, he drives a Smart Car. And Jacob goes by bike whenever he can. Jacob doesn’t like wild game, because he knows that red meat is bad for you. Jacob likes vegetable soup, especially lentils. Jacob listens to Celine Dion, Barry Manilow, Abba and Kenny G, but when he’s feeling really rebellious, he’s actually got a Bon Jovi song on his Ipod, which he listens to once a year. Jacob recyles all his rubbish, he’s got 7 bins outside his tent: blue for paper, green for garden waste, brown for wood, yellow for textiles, red for plastic, grey for metal and turquoise for glass.
Jacob and Esau are different, OK? How many of you grew up with a brother, and you just didn’t get along. That’s what the deal is here. Esau and Jacob walk into a pub together, they go to the bar. Esau orders a Jack Daniels. Jacob orders a chamomile tea.
You get the picture.
Here’s what happens next . . .
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.)
31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
Jacob, our mummy’s boy, has clearly got some character defects. Wouldn’t you agree? I mean a man who drinks fruit tea is annoying, but this is a bit more serious. Esau says: “Hey bro, please can I have some of your stew.” Jacob’s reply is, “First, sell me your birthright.”
We can safely say that Jacob has issues. Jacob is the ultimate schemer. And as we shall see, Jacob is going to have pain and conflict and aggravation his whole life as a result of not addressing his own character defects while he’s young.
But Esau’s even worse.
Jacob says: “First sell me your birthright.” And Esau’s reply is . . .
32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”
33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.
34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright. (Genesis 25:19-34)
Esau sells his birthright for some lentil soup and some bread.
OK, put yourself in Esau’s shoes. Let’s weigh up the options. I’m Esau, I can either go for option A or option B, but not both. I can either have option A, where I get to keep the flocks, the herds, the camels, the riches, all my father’s wealth, the blessing of God, and all the promises as the firstborn son, and I get to be an ancestor of God’s Son Jesus Christ, or I can give all of that away, and instead I can have option B some lentil soup.
OK, so you choose! God’s blessing or soup? Jesus or lentils? Esau chooses the soup. He gives away the blessing of God, he gives up on God, for lentils.
Folks let me show you how serious Esau’s decision is, here’s how the writer to the Hebrews sees this incident . . . he says:
16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears. (Hebrews 12:16-17)
My friend, you could make the same mistake as Esau did. That’s why the writer to the Hebrews is warning you now, while there’s still time for you to avoid the massive hole you could so easily fall into! He’s saying, “Let Esau’s disastrous mistake be a warning to you” The writer to the Hebrews is posting a massive “Danger” sign across your bible for you to see it.
You see Esau didn’t go out that day thinking, “I know what I’ll do today. I’ll give away my inheritance, my destiny and my privileges as the firstborn son.” But that’s what he ended up doing. He never saw it coming. Why? Because Esau lacked self-awareness. Do you? Esau never spotted his weakness until it was too late. That was Esau’s downfall!
Esau traded away the blessing for soup! How did that happen? Here’s how it happened. Esau was a man of strong passions, and little self-discipline. Does that sound like you?
And some of us are more like Esau, and some of us are more like Jacob. But they both missed out on God’s best because they failed to address their character defects when they were young. And so God is warning us tonight, while there’s still time!
Can I ask you, “what are your character flaws?”
“I dunno, but I have got Calvin Kline underpants.”
“Find out! What your character flaws are. Ask your friends, they’ll be delighted to tell you.”
Maybe, there’s something of Esau about you? Esau thrived on activity. Is that you? He was always doing something. Is that you? Never a dull moment! That was a massive part of his downfall. Esau was a very passionate person. Are you? Esau felt things very deeply. Is that you? When Esau came in from the country ravenously hungry, he really did think he was about to die. He wasn’t deliberately exaggerating. That’s how it felt to him. He felt that hungry. You see if you’re an Esau, then the gauge you read is your feelings. You take your feelings as the best guide to reality. Is that you? Esau feels a searing pain in his stomach, after charging around chasing wild animals all day. He’s had absolutely nothing to eat. And Esau’s body tells him: ‘Esau you should have something to eat after all that effort.’ And so Esau listens to the message his body was sending him. His body was saying, ‘Esau, you have physical needs. Esau your hunger pain is nature’s way of telling you that you need to eat. There’s nothing immoral or unnatural about eating. Esau, eating is part of life. God created food Esau. Food is good.’ Esau’s body was saying to him: ‘Esau you need satisfaction, and look, satisfaction is available right there in that pot of lovely red stew.’
And that’s always the first step, looking. That’s where David went wrong with Bathsheba wasn’t it? First of all, you let yourself look. And look, and look.
In this case, lovely rich red stew. And Esau could smell it.
Watch out, Hebrews says:
16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau (Hebrews 12:16)
Esau’s sin is likened to sexual immorality. And it’s called godless-ness. Now here’s the point, it didn’t start off with god-lessness. When he went out hunting in the morning, he didn’t set out to be god-less. He was just trying to stay alive and make a living.
Same with you, let’s take your computer for example. When you bought your laptop. It was a perfectly normal thing to do. You say: “I need to have the internet on my computer.”
But here’s the deal. You’re different from the average guy buying a computer. Because you belong to the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, you carry the promises of God. God has invested his riches and his promises in you. You’re no ordinary guy, because Jesus lives in you. The Kingdom of God lives in you. God loves you. You’ve been chosen by God.
And just as it’s in the nature of hunting that sometimes you don’t catch anything and you get very very hungry, so also it’s in the nature of the internet, that at any one time, you are only 3 clicks away from sexual immorality.
I’m talking about seeing to it that no-one is sexually immoral, or is godless, like Esau.
Friend you could be on the Christ Church London website, but all you need to do is type something a little bit ambiguous into Google, two clicks later, boom. Disaster!
Adrian, whatever do you mean? You’re looking at something Jesus would never look at. And your conscience and the Holy Spirit in you are screaming at you, that you’ve just crossed a massive line. But your body’s saying, “Hey, it’s not so bad. It’s a perfectly natural, normal desire. The hunger you are feeling is not wrong. It’s just part of life.”
Why am I preaching like this? Because this is how the New Testament portrays Esau. As a warning!
Folks, I’ve never looked at pornography on the internet, but – I have to decide that with or without God’s help, I never will. And as I look back on my time as a Christian, I’ve seen a lot of Esau’s. I don’t want to join them.
This year I thought about getting some of my old friends from two churches ago back together, but you know what, some of them wouldn’t want to meet up. Why? Because they don’t want to be around Christians anymore. These were people who were going for God as much as anyone here today. In the front row with their hands in the air. If you’d lined up 100 people from that church, and asked me to pick out the 10 who would go on to shipwreck their faith, I would never have been able to pick out the 10 who did.
Some of you grew up in a church youth group. Can I ask you, where are they all today? Are they all going for God?
If you’re a man or a woman of strong passions, then be warned, learn a lesson from Esau.
But what about Jacob?
There are probably more Jacobs in the room than Esaus. And I see in my myself many of the faults and flaws of Jacob.
Jacob was a schemer. He knows he’s called of God, but rather than let God work out his plans, Jacob plots his own path to self-advancement.
This is my story. I was converted through a prophecy. I don’t talk about it very often, but a woman stood up who’d never met me, and said, in front of the whole church, that God had great things for me. At my baptism, again amazing things were prophesied about me in front of the whole church, and it went to my head.
So now I know God’s got great things in store for me, but after a few years went by, some of them weren’t happening, so like Jacob I tried to make them happen.
So I think: “it’s not happening. I need to come up with a plan.” So Jacob dresses up as Esau doesn’t he? He pretends to be Esau. He deceives Isaac. It works on one level. But Jacob’s totally missed the point. He’s not addressed his weaknesses.
And so, as a result, God gives Jacob a taste of his own medicine. Jacob, the schemer, meets his match in Laban. Folks deal with your weaknesses now, because Laban is an absolute nightmare.
And I want to say from personal experience, if you want to avoid 20 years of unnecessary pain, deal with your character flaws while you’re young.
Jacob tries to scheme and manipulate his way into the inheritance God’s got for him. He plots his own selfish path to spiritual power, so God decides to iron out some of Jacob’s faults, and so he takes Jacob to the university of life, to the school of hard knocks, and the professor in that university is Laban, the Aramean.
All Jacob wants is Rachel, but Laban gets Jacob to work for 20 years to get her, through all kinds of deceit and trickery.
So with a supreme irony, just as Jacob plays a trick to get the rights of the firstborn son by deceiving Isaac, so Laban plays a trick on Jacob to marry off his firstborn daughter Leah to Jacob, rather than Rachel. Laban plays the same trick on Jacob, that Jacob played on Esau. The schemer is schemed, the deceiver is deceived. The supplanter is supplanted.
What goes around comes around. Or as the Bible puts it, you can be sure that your sins will find you out.
Jacob has trouble and strife on and off all the way, until he’s a very very old man, all because he never ironed out his character flaws as a young man. And I’m here to tell you, don’t fall into the same trap!
Even if it’s very mundane things, which are actually hilariously funny. You see for me, if I’ve finished with my breakfast bowl, and I leave it on top of the dishwasher . . . from my point of view, it’s on its way to being washed up. I’m like: Let’s focus on the positives. OK, I haven’t put it in the dishwasher, but it’s not on the table anymore. It’s being processed. So, I’ll come back later and put it in the dishwasher at some point in the near future. – I’ve learned that that’s not good enough.
Same thing with dirty laundry. From my point of view, my dirty clothes are not actually strewn around the room in a chaotic way. On the contrary, I have got a system. Yes, my room looks like a mess, but I know where everything is. And those clothes are on their way to being washed. They might not be in the washing machine now, but they will be, one day. At the moment, they are in a queuing system. – I’ve learned, a bit like Terminal 5, that that’s not good enough.
Folks, there’s almost certainly something you can be working on.
Jacob was called of God. God showed him the stairway to heaven. He was the man God chose. But he still had a lot of selfish ambition mixed in there.
And actually Jacob found it hard to trust God. Even after he’d had amazing personal encounters with God, that would have left him in no doubt that God was with him.
Eventually God himself comes down and an angel, or maybe even the pre-incarnate Christ, comes down and wrestles all night with Jacob. And the angel touches Jacob’s hip, and Jacob limps for the rest of his life. At last Jacob’s self-confidence, and self-sufficiency is wrestled out of him. And limping, he finally becomes dependent on God. He becomes a man of faith as an old age pensioner.
I want to say to you, if you’re a Jacob, deal with your pride now. If you’re tempted to plot your path to power within the church of Jesus Christ, do yourself a massive favour and repent tonight, because if you don’t you could end up serving Laban for 20 years of misery. God will not be mocked. Your sins will find you out.
Sin never pays. Rebekah found that out too. She of course was equally guilty of scheming for Jacob to dress up as Esau and steal Isaac’s blessing. What was the result of the deception she herself planned? Esau threatened to kill Jacob, and Jacob ran for his life and that meant that Rebekah never saw Jacob ever again. Sin never pays. The whole point was for Rebekah to benefit her favourite son. Instead, she never sees him ever again. Rebekah would come on stage tonight and say: ‘sin’s not worth it.’
Don’t do a Rebekah. She still feels the need to engineer the fulfillment of the promise, as if God couldn’t have done it any other way. Rebekah is so innocent and wonderful before she gets married, but then she turns into a right little schemer!
And the family feud between the descendants of Esau (Moab) and the descendants of Jacob (Israel) continued right through the centuries, until the most famous descendant of Moab, King Herod the Great, tried to murder the most famous descendant of Jacob, Jesus of Nazareth. And the family feud continues even to this day in the Middle East.
But here’s the good news. The amazing thing about the life of Jacob, is that even though Jacob is just about the most unpleasant selfish person ever to follow the God of Israel, God continually forgives him and restores him, and actually, he does fulfill his destiny.
God could hardly have chosen a more sinful, carnal, person to fulfill his purposes, but Romans 9 confirms what we already know, God loves Jacob and will never let him go.
And you know that’s true of you. You’re a man or a woman of destiny. It might not feel that way. Especially if God’s putting you through the school of hard knocks at the moment. Maybe you’re working for Laban at the moment. You don’t feel like a man or a woman of destiny, but you are! You carry the promises of God. Jesus is going to be revealed to the world through you.
God has said: ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’ That’s what God said to Jacob at Bethel (Gen 28:15)
The story of Jacob is one of opportunism sanctified. Jacob ends up blessing Pharoah! His name is changed from Jacob to Israel.
If God was prepared to use Jacob, He will definitely be happy to use you!
Jacob wouldn’t bend to the will of God. But even though Jacob sinned and rebelled at every stage. God never said: “oh, I’ll go and find someone else.”
And there’s a reason for that. God had chosen Jacob and he’ll never change his mind, and never let you go. God has chosen Jacob in exactly the same way that he chose you. That’s what Romans 9 says. In Romans 9, Paul explains how God, in his sovereignty, was always with Jacob, even when Jacob looks so unlikely and so un-lovely. God never sees him that way. God loves Jacob. You see even when we are faith-less, God is faithful, because he cannot disown himself. At the end of the day, you didn’t choose God, God chose you, and he has promised you: “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”
You see, here’s the key to this story. And I’ve left the best til last. Jacob was actually chosen by God before he was even born. And the whole point of Romans 9 is to say, so are you. And Jacob’s being chosen had nothing to do with his performance. And God never leaves Jacob. God loves Jacob, warts and all. God’s whole global purpose was achieved through a man who was probably more sinful than anyone in this room. Jacob brought the nation of Israel and the person of Jesus Christ into this world. And God has chosen you to do the same thing, no matter how many faults you may think you have. And if God will stick with Jacob, you can be certain he’ll stick with you.
Jacob’s life ends in triumph. His dreams have come true. He fulfills his destiny. And so will you, because God is with you. You now carry the promises. You inherited all of them. You can read about that in Galatians chapter 4. You have now inherited by faith, all the benefits that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob enjoyed. You did nothing to gain them. It was God’s free choice, and God has said he’ll never change his mind. Jesus said that “no-one can snatch you, out of my hand.”
Like Jacob, God has picked you out. You’ve got a stairway to heaven. Jesus came down it to get you. And you can bet your life that one day, he’ll take you up with him, and you won’t regret one moment you spent on earth serving him.