The interesting thing about names is that names have special meanings and sometimes people are given new names because you could say that their role in life has changed and this appears to be the case with a man called Jacob. Jacob wanted to be heir to his father’s good name and to his father’s good fortune but there was something of an obstacle in his way and this obstacle was what you might call tradition because traditionally the elder brother would inherit the father’s good name and fortune.
The other peculiar fact here was that Jacob’s older brother Esau was Jacob’s twin and he’d only been born perhaps minutes before Jacob had so as the story goes, Esau was born first and strangely enough Jacob was holding his brother’s foot as he came out. Jacob’s mother had also received a prophecy telling her that the elder shall serve the younger, this is interesting because it shows that God is not necessarily bound by tradition and the normal rule. The fact that Jacob was holding Esau’s foot appears to suggest a struggle, you picture Jacob trying to hold Esau back as if he’s saying “I’m first, not you!” and this appears to be the struggle with Jacob as to whether his own arm would save him or God’s. To be a true heir of his father’s good name and good fortune could only come from God Himself and not necessarily from his earthly father Isaac. Time went by and it turned out that Isaac was indeed going to bless Esau with his good name and good fortune but as it turns out, even Isaac would have been wrong with going with the normal tradition because God all along had chosen Jacob to be the heir and not Esau but Jacob had a problem with yielding to what is called “the arm of the flesh.” When you talk about flesh in the bible it’s usually referring to lust and this has always been the problem with good names and good fortunes in that there has always been a strong tendency for people to lie and cheat their way to the top and so Jacob appears to have fallen into this line of temptation and his mother appears to have assisted him with this and so when his father Isaac was getting nearer to the day that he would die he decided to bless his elder son so that he would become the true heir – Isaac was also old in years and had failing eyesight and don’t forget there were no glasses in those days!
The other peculiar thing was that Esau was hairier than Jacob so Jacob’s mother devised a plan, she told Jacob to wear Esau’s best clothes and to put goat skins on his hands and upon the smooth of his neck and so to Isaac, a man that was going blind and was more reliant upon his other senses such as touch and smell etc, Jacob felt like Esau and even smelt like Esau and therefore Isaac thinking that it was Esau went on to bless Jacob instead of Esau. The blessing here was no small blessing because everything Isaac said was going to come to pass, even telling Jacob that people would serve him and that nations would bow down to him, this was a blessing that had been passed down from Abraham to Isaac and was now being passed down to Jacob though you could say that the blessing was somewhat suspended in that there is a clause in receiving this blessing and that clause was that you have to be obeying God’s voice and yielded to God’s arm in this and not your own arm or your own voice, so though the blessing had been given to Jacob, Jacob wasn’t ready to receive it because he’d lied and cheated to get this blessing and he’d also lied about God and had misrepresented the Lord to Isaac. Isaac had told his son Esau before he was going to bless him to go and hunt and catch a deer and to make him savoury meat and to bring it to him, Jacob quickly, whilst his brother was away catching deer, with the help of his mother had cooked up goat’s meat and not venison (deer) – “And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the Lord thy God brought it to me.” (Genesis 27:20) – so a very very dangerous lie here in putting what you might call events in God’s hands that He didn’t perform, or in other words, using what is called the “God card” in telling people “God said” when he didn’t even say or God did when God hadn’t done anything! God was in no way party to all of this because it was all deceit and on top of that this wasn’t even deer meat, it was goat’s meat, so it was deceit right down the line! So Jacob was yielding to his flesh here by even putting goat’s skin on his hand in order to deceive his own father and he even thinks that he can deceive God here because the blessing is spiritual in nature, it has nothing to do with our earthly fleshly lusts, the blessings can come through a human being but not from a human being, the human being is merely a medium that God operates through and this medium all started with a man called Abraham.
Abraham was the man who you could say embodied the One True God, before Abraham came along there was a common concept in the world of his day, that concept being that there are many gods. Abraham was a major chess move on the world stage in that he brought in the reality of there being only One True God and so this is one reason why Abraham is so important to both Christians, Jews, and even Muslims alike in that he brought in the true reality of there being only One True God and he also brought in the reality of how to get to this One True God (this is where these three religions differ) when God Himself told him to sacrifice his Only Son. God you could say had to play it out this way in order to show Abraham that one-day God was going to give his Only begotton Son to mankind as a blessing and a sacrifice so that we could all come to God through Jesus’ sacrifice! So just as Abraham was about to sacrifice his only son, an angel intervened and told Abraham to sacrifice a ram (male sheep) instead. So the picture that God was giving to the world here was and still is that Abraham represents God in this illustration and Isaac, Abraham’s only son, represents Jesus! – and this is the only way that anyone can ever be a true child of Abraham and therefore a child of God and that is through this spiritual illustration. Though the illustration was manifested physically, it was a spiritual illustration that was coming from God that was performed through a medium called Abraham! Even Abraham had his name changed before this from “Abram” to “Abraham” because God had made Abraham the spiritual father of many nations and in particular talking here of spiritual nations so in Abraham we should be seeing the One True God, this in a sense is what Abraham represents and his son Isaac, in a sense, is a physical illustration of Jesus because Isaac was his only son, at least he was his only son that came from him and Sarah his wife. Even Abraham had once tried to bring about an heir to the promises given to him by bringing forth a child through his wife Sarah’s maid, Hagar. God told him that this child, although his firstborn, was not going to be the heir to the promises but his name would be Ishmael and he became the father of the Arab nations instead but he was NOT the heir to the actual promises of God given through Abraham so God told Abraham that it was in Isaac that thy seed shall be called. Isaac is a type of Christ and also it’s through the seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and so on, that Jesus would be born.Jesus came through Abraham and Isaac’s lineage and not through Ishmael’s lineage! And so it is Jesus Who is the first and the last you could say in this sense because Isaac was Abraham’s first born in that he came through Abraham and Sarah so like Jesus, Isaac was conceived miraculously because Sarah’s womb was barren as she was past ninety years of age when she conceived and this is a human impossibility, just like when Mary conceived and was a virgin, this also is a human impossibility so Isaac like Jesus was a miraculous conception! And so you see here how the whole thing was miraculous and spiritual in nature and that the only only way to God is through Jesus and the True children of Abraham are the spiritual children of God who have come to God through Jesus, who have come to the family of God through Jesus, this family of God in particular starting with spiritual Abraham who embodied the One True God and so every person who is a true Christian is a true child of Abraham because he or she came to God through Abraham’s seed, Jesus! – It’s only through Jesus that we were born again into the true family of God, largely starting with spiritual Abraham.
So back in the days of Isaac, Abraham’s son, here we have Jacob trying to get to the top of the kingdom through some other way, that other way being the way that most people in this world try to get to the top and this is also true of the land of Israel, they get to the top there by hook and crook, by cheating and deceiving their way to the top and even deceiving the Christians into believing that they should rightfully be on the top, some of them in Israel even say that they are the heir to the promises and that by God and by tradition the land of Israel is rightfully theirs so they even quote some of these scriptures and events here and say “God said” whereas, what God actually said is that the ONLY WAY into the Kingdom is through His Son, Jesus, and as most people know, the Jews crucified their King two thousand years ago!
One of the other blessings that was going to be handed down to Jacob was the promised land. God had also promised Abraham what was called “The Promised Land.” He said to Abraham that He’d given it to him and his spiritual children, that is according to the Spirit and NOT the flesh so all they that are born Israel are not necessarily Israel but the children of the promise are, whether they be Jew or gentile. Some of Abraham’s physical children had gone along with the spiritual messages of Abraham whereas others had not and it was the ones that went along with spiritual Abraham that would inherit the blessings and some of these even inherited the land whereas it has to be said that hundreds of thousands more could not inherit the land because of disobedience and even Moses himself could not get into the land of Israel because of disobedience! Moses had led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt all the way to the promised land and yet most of them couldn’t get in because of disobedience and unbelief and of course they were yielding to the arm of the flesh and not the Spirit so they couldn’t get in. Moses himself once yielded to the arm of the flesh in that he got angry with God and smote a rock, this rock symbolising Jesus, and so he misrepresented God because he was supposed to be an example to the people and he also being a medium was a Christ-like figure to them in that he was very obedient to God and got all his words from God and operated through God’s Spirit as a true medium of God as had Abraham of old. So people like that are Christ-like figures to the world but when you consider the fact that even Moses couldn’t get into the promised land because of disobedience but was only allowed to see it from afar off you then get to realise how serious the whole matter is!
The land of Israel which exists to this day is a land which you could call God’s land and if people falsely try to get into this land without God then you would say they are playing a very dangerous game indeed. This dangerous game set Jacob right back on all of his plans, his brother Esau was so angry when he found out that he’d stolen his blessing that Jacob had to flee for his life and went to stay with his mother’s brother Laban for years and he ended up serving Laban who also had a problem with his flesh in that he would too often yield to it and therefore was a deceiver in this so Jacob had some lessons to learn here under Laban and these lessons were largely to do with learning to rule justly and fairly. If you serve somebody for years who is is deceiver then you can only imagine that it must have taught him some sort of compassion on how it feels to serve under a deceiver and so you picture that he set it in his heart not to be a deceiver but this appears to have taken years and so time went by and it was time for him to return to his father’s house and as they say, he had to face the music here because his prime concern was that his brother might still want to kill him and it appears also that he must have been sorry for being such a deceiver in his past but… was every area of his life yielded over to God? The picture you get is that he still wanted to be the heir to all of these promises that were given to Abraham and then passed down to Isaac which now Jacob so badly wanted. Was he the yielded vessel he needed to be? It turns out that as he was nearing his father’s house that he rose up during the night and came face to face with a supernatural being which appears to be either an angel of God or it was God Himself in the presence of this angel, whichever way you look at it, Jacob grappled and fought with this supernatural being all night long.
So Jacob here appears to be immersed in this battle which all people in the bible have had to battle with and that is whether you are going to yield to the arm of the flesh or the arm of the Spirit. The arm of the flesh man might want the things of God but the question is always: what is your motive in wanting these things of God? Many many people become interested in the things of God because they have a strong lust for power in their hearts so their motives in wanting the things of God are impure and not coming from a right heart. It doesn’t appear that Jacob was altogether wrong with God but he did have a problem along these lines as all people do who believe in God so just because people have problems or times when their motives aren’t altogether right, it doesn’t mean that other areas in their lives aren’t right but… was Jacob ready to be the man that he needed to be to hold this high position that he wanted? With Abraham, people always talk of the faith of Abraham, Abraham did everything through miraculous faith in God and everything was coming from this faith in God and through true obedience to God, Isaac had also learned to obey God and it was all through true faith in God with him and so here was Jacob with this supernatural being, representative of God Himself, and he’s fighting with God all night, it appears that what he wants is for God to bless him, it appears that he can now see that true blessings come from God, especially such a great blessing as being the heir to his father’s good name and peoples and great nations serving him through receiving these blessings but who was Jacob to have peoples and nations serving him? He was once trying to deceive his way to the top here so would he have ruled and reigned over these peoples and nations fairly? Would there be justice and peace and plenty for all or would he rule as a deceiver and a liar and a cheater and a stealer with a lust for power in his heart? None of this would ever work in God’s eyes! And so the fight went on right through the night, perhaps in a sense Jacob had come face to face with himself, Jacob was in the presence of the One True God and here he was also fighting and struggling and grappling with God and himself right through the night and he wouldn’t let God go. Finally, the supernatural being brings an end to this battle by touching Jacob’s hip and putting it out of joint and so Jacob finally appears to be humbled here, humbled enough to receive God’s blessing! Jacob still doesn’t want to let this angel go, it appears that it is now the arm of humility that is holding onto this angel, a more truly yielded arm, he’s asking for God’s blessing out of humility and not pride and as it says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift thee up.” (James 4:10) Just as Moses was humbled in the sight of the Lord who then passed the same anointing onto Joshua who humbled himself in the sight of the Lord.Then this supernatural being blesses Jacob and changed Jacob’s name from Jacob to Israel, from deceiver to prince. So God had to cripple him to crown him! God can only use broken men and women, none others will do, others are too self-confident in their own flesh, God has to break them, melt them, mould them in the hands of the potter, God has to beat the hell out of them until the day comes that they can stand to be exalted! So the list is endless of the broken men and broken women that God has used in the past and Jacob who had his name changed to Israel was one of these broken men and women!