Today’s wimp is a key figure early in the bible: Jacob. Jacob’s life is covered in 25 chapters in the book of Genesis (Genesis 25 – 50). That is major coverage for a man who was a thief, a liar, a coward and caused dissension among his children by openly showing favoritism. But perhaps that is why his life story is covered in such great detail. Jacob has many of the character flaws that we experience today and yet God was able to use him.
Jacob’s life was turbulent from the start. His troubles with his twin brother, Esau, began in the womb.
22 The babies struggled with each other inside her. She said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to ask the Lord what she should do.
23 The Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your body.
Two tribes that are now inside you will be separated.
One nation will be stronger than the other.
The older son will serve the younger one.”
Genesis 25:22 – 23
Even at birth he was not to be outdone; he was the second of the twins to be bone but he came out “holding onto Esau’s heel” (Genesis 25:26).
As the boys grew, they were very different. Esau was a hunter and his father’s favorite. Jacob was a home-body and his mother’s favorite. As their father Isaac became old, it came time for him to bestow his blessing on the eldest. Remembering the earlier prophesy, Rebekah wanted to ensure that Jacob received the blessing. She helped her son deceive Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing. They dressed Jacob in Esau’s clothes and used animal fur to make his smooth skin seem hairy like his brother’s. Isaac was not easily deceived, but Jacob had no problem lying to be more convincing.
18 He went to his father and said, “My father.”
“Yes, my son,” Isaac answered. “Who is it?”
19 Jacob said to his father, “I’m your oldest son Esau. I’ve done as you told me. Please sit up. Eat some of my wild meat. Then give me your blessing.”
20 Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?”
“The Lord your God gave me success,” he replied.
21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son. I want to know whether you really are my son Esau.”
22 Jacob went close to his father. Isaac touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob. But the hands are the hands of Esau.”
23 Isaac didn’t recognize him. His hands were covered with hair like those of his brother Esau. So Isaac blessed him. 24 “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked.
“I am,” Jacob replied.
25 Isaac said, “My son, bring me some of your wild meat to eat. Then I’ll give you my blessing.”
Jacob brought it to him. So Isaac ate. Jacob also brought some wine. And Isaac drank. 26 Then Jacob’s father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son. Kiss me.”
27 So Jacob went to him and kissed him. When Isaac smelled the clothes, he gave Jacob his blessing.
Genesis 27: 18 – 27
When Esau discovered the trickery he was furious.
41 Esau was angry with Jacob. He was angry because of the blessing his father had given to Jacob. He said to himself, “My father will soon die. The days of sorrow over him are near. Then I’ll kill my brother Jacob.”
Genesis 27: 41
Jacob’s mother sent him away to live with his uncle to avoid Esau’s wrath.
Jacob goes to live with his uncle, who tricks him into working for him for 14 years in order to marry one of his daughters (he had to marry the oldest daughter first, before he could marry the younger one…the one he really wanted). Still Jacob thrived and become wealthy. His uncle’s son began to resent him and God directs Jacob to return to his homeland.
As he returns to his homeland, it’s time to face the music…Esau. Fearing his brother’s wrath, Jacob splits his family and flocks in two so that one group will survive in the event Esau attacks. He got some gifts together and sent them to his brother via a servant.
Jacob was terrified of what would happen in his reunion with his brother. Esau on the other hand was happy…
4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob. He hugged him and threw his arms around his neck. He kissed him, and they cried. (Genesis 33:4)