(The story of Jacob/Israel spans decades and is spread out over a vast area. It is recorded, with no holds barred, between the twenty-fifth and fiftieth chapter of the book of Genesis. In this instance, I haven’t tried to identify specific verses. This represents a sort of overview on my part, taking into consideration his entire life. Doing that, necessarily you see one very flawed, selfish, self-centered man whom you probably would not have trusted or even liked very much. This is another case where the wonderful grace of God rescues, cleanses, and uses someone who just as easily could have wound up in the garbage dump of wasted humanity. I can’t honestly tell you to “enjoy” this study, but it seems to be a crucial piece if you view the entire picture of man’s need and God’s grace. Please pray for my friend, and rest assured I’ll pray for anyone in your life who resembles Jacob. ~dk)
Sorry I’ve been sort of out of touch lately. Health issues, mostly. In addition, I’ve really gotten stymied in my attempt to understand Jacob, another Biblical figure whom I’ve designated as one of God’s “Comeback Kids.” Working on my book, some personal matters, and the health issues with my wife and me have been only a partial explanation of my absence. To be very candid, in considering Jacob I’ve struggled. It isn’t an easy study. I find him to be one of the least likeable (yet one of the most important) of the Hebrew “heroes of faith.” In fact, early on I consider him to be almost contemptible. He’s a con man. He was incredibly selfish, apparently incurably narcissistic. Routinely, he lies and cheats, defrauds and uses even his closest family members, friends, and strangers and is always on the take and on the make.
Apart from those considerations, I have a friend whom I’ve considered almost as close as a brother to be a modern day clone of Jacob. Seeing him waste himself and leave scars, heartbreak and carnage in his wake, has really troubled me. And my pain is nothing when compared to those who’ve been closest to him.
Sorry. I’ve dragged my heels. I’ve not felt like a judge, condemning, criticizing. I’ve felt more like a doctor looking carefully, with some understanding of human nature and a very heavy heart at a patient whom I happen to love and having to deal with the fact that a cancer is gnawing voraciously at his vitals, growing daily and inevitably leading to no good end. And the patient, his friend, is willfully ignorant of his danger, dismissive of any attempts to block his descent, and takes no steps to face reality and the pain he causes those who love him. They still believe, and still hope against all odds. He continues using, hurting, disregarding and discarding those who really love him, moving on from one duped victim to the next
The reality is there is people today just like my friend, and just like Jacob. And, because they have such high opinions of themselves and such little regard for anyone else, they are perhaps among the most difficult to ever recognize their need to humbly, honestly seek God’s wisdom, forgiveness and grace. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. They deceive themselves when they think otherwise.
So, through several months now, I’ve thought about “Jake the Snake.” Wondered how he could be so blind. So unaware or uncaring that others can see through the veneer. How can he be so careless with his own great gifts, and trash the trust and love of those whose love he should have treasured. . . using them for his own advantage? How or why does he savage their lives with such apparent impunity?
Do I give up on such an apparently lost cause from a purely human standpoint? How can I do that unless God does? God saw things in Jacob that I missed. How can you explain a transformation of one so selfish and deceitful into a tower of strength and an admirable example of faith? How could anyone except God break through such a barricade of selfishness and create a heart and life devoted to serving Him and becoming the Father of a Nation?
My guess would have been this guy, Jacob, was a lost cause. Who knows what God can do with someone whom we regard as a lost cause?
I will say this, though: If anyone “lives for self and none beside, as though Christ had never died,” they do so at their own great peril.
God’s son and servant, your friend and fellow student, ~donkimrey