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(Genesis 33 - 36) Growing Old Growing Up

(Genesis 33 - 36) Growing Old Growing Up

by Stephen Davey Ref: Genesis 33–36

The story of Jacob is really the story of God's grace. Jacob was just a sinner like you and me who finally repented in his old age. Have you repented?



(Genesis 33ff)

In our last session together, we discovered Jacob meeting with God and wrestling.  And God revealing to Jacob a new name, Israel, meaning “the prince of God.”  And now Jacob goes to meet Esau in that confrontation that he has been dreading, perhaps, for the 20 years that he has been away.  So we want to pick it up this morning at Genesis, chapter 33, as we, in fact, conclude our study in the life of Jacob.

Genesis, chapter 33.  And I want you to notice the reconciliation of these two brothers.  And I want to point out a couple of things related to this reconciliation that are right and wrong - especially wrong.  It seems that Jacob, though he has met with God, though he has been given a new name which means, “no longer schemer but God’s prince,” he still, in effect, acts as a little bit of a schemer, as we’ll notice in chapter 33.  But I want you to notice first of all, his attitude as he meets Esau.  Chapter 33, verse 1, “Then Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him.”  These were the soldiers that he had brought with him.  “So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids.  And he put the maids and their children in front, and Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last.”  And this is kind of where he had left it.  And he was going to be the last person that Esau met.  But he evidently has a little bit of courage, after meeting with God, because this time he goes in front of his wives and children.  Verse 3, “But he himself passed on ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times”.  The word “bowed” or “bowed down” could be translated “fell prostrate.”  This is not really the character of Israel the prince, this is more of Jacob the trembling schemer.  It was the oriental custom, when you met a king, to fall down seven times.  Now undoubtedly he knew that Esau was the king of Edom, but still, he was now the prince of God and this was his brother.  And yet he met Esau by falling prostrate seven times, giving, in a sense, honor to a man who was not deserving of the honor of God’s man.

Well, note verse 4, “Then Esau ran to meet him and” - instead of plunging a knife into his throat or chest, he - “embraced him,” - what a shock this must have been to Jacob -  “and - he - fell on his neck and kissed him”.  The tense is repeatedly kissing Jacob.  Here Jacob hasn’t seen his brother for 20 years.  He is expecting a fist fight, if nothing less.  And Esau, that big burley man, runs up to Jacob and throws his arms around him and starts kissing him.  And they both, you’ll note that, in fact you ought to underline the word “they”, “and they wept.”  God had undoubtedly performed a miracle over these 20 years in the heart of Esau.  And he had brought these two brothers together in reconciliation.  Perhaps, this morning, you are facing the difficulty of some feud or estrangement, some division.  And yet it’s interesting that God is bigger than anything you and I might face, and is possible and strong enough to bring it together.  I was reading, this past week, of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who’s parents disagreed or disapproved so strongly of her marriage to Robert that when she married him, they ostracized her and they, in a sense, kicked her out of the family.  And so for the next 10 years, almost weekly, Elizabeth Browning would write to her parents a love letter trying to pursue reconciliation.  After 10 years, she received a box in the mail.  And when she opened it, her heart was broken because inside was a collection of all her letters that she had sent her parents.  Not one had been opened.  Perhaps that’s what motivated Ray Stedman to write, “The ministry of reconciliation originates with God, not man.”  It is owned and accredited by God and achieves what otherwise is impossible.  I don’t know how impossible the situations you and I face, that is, in division and feuding and fighting and disagreement.  But God, who could put Esau and Jacob together there in the dusty sands outside of Luz.  There these men, surrounded by sheep, by armed men, by curious children, by these strapping soldiers embraced one another.  And you see them there weeping.

I want you to notice Jacob’s insistence on giving Esau gifts.  Look at verse 8, “And he said, ‘What do you mean by all this company which I have met?’  And - Jacob - said, ‘To find favor in the sight of my lord.’  But Esau said, ‘I have plenty’”.  Interesting three words, “I have enough.”  You’ll note in verse 11, Jacob says the same thing, “I have enough.”  These two men, who never had enough, finally came to a point where they could say to each other, “We, in fact, are satisfied.”  But yet Jacob, I think, is conniving.  It says in verse 10, “Jacob said, ‘No, please, if now I have found favor in your sight, then take my present from my hand.’”  You remember how he put the rams in front and then the ewes and then the goats, if you were with us in our last session, to try to butter him up, so that by the time Jacob met Esau, Esau would respond favorably.  Esau didn’t even want them but Jacob presses, “No, take them.”  “No,” Esau says, “I don’t want them.”  “No, take them.”  “Okay, I’ll take them.”  But I think what’s happening here is an underlying motive.  Because, in that culture, it was improper for an enemy to receive a gift.  If you had an enemy, he was not to receive anything from your hand.  And here, in effect, is Jacob wanting legal assurance that the feud was over.  Wouldn’t trust his brother.  So he knew if Esau would take the gifts, the division was settled.  And in fact, Esau finally did take them.

But I’ve observed another problem in the next few verses.  And that is, Jacob’s insensitivity to Esau’s request for companionship.  Would you note verse 11, “’Please take my gift which has been brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have plenty.’  Thus he urged him and he took it.  Then Esau said, ‘Let us take our journey’” - together and go - “’and I will go before you.’  But he said to him,” - Jacob responding - “My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds which are nursing are a care” - or a burden - “to me.  And if they are driven hard one day, all the flocks will die.  Please let my lord pass on before his servant; and I will proceed at my leisure, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children”.  Here’s Esau, in the generosity of his heart, impulsive, emotional, saying, “Jacob, what do you say we get together and travel to Seir together.  And we can reestablish all that we’ve missed in the last 20 years.”  And Jacob going, “Uh-uh.”  Perhaps he’s thinking, “This is too good to be true.  I’m afraid that perhaps I’ll offend Esau and before this trip is over, he’ll be after my throat again.  No way!  I can’t trust God to continue what He, in effect, did in bringing this reconciliation about.”  And so he makes a promise and I want you to notice the insincerity of his promise.  Look at the last part of verse 14,  Jacob says, “You go ahead, until I come to my lord at Seir.”  In other words, Jacob is saying, “Esau, you go ahead, and I’ll come along at a slower pace and ultimately we’ll meet together at Seir.”  But yet the text will later reveal, that as soon as the horsemen are out of sight, as soon as the soldiers of Esau are out of sight, the tips of their spears can no longer be seen, instead of traveling southeast to follow his brother, he goes northwest.  He lied to his brother.  And I can’t help but imagine what Esau was thinking waiting in Seir for his brother.  Everything is patched up and where is Jacob?  He’s settling in Shechem.  So he lied to his brother.  I can not help but imagine what his sons must have thought as they saw their father lying.  I lean back in my chair and begin to imagine what it must have been for the 12 sons of Jacob to see their patriarch father, the MAN OF GOD, give a boldface lie.  They heard him say, “Esau, we’ll meet you later in Seir.”  And as soon as Esau is gone, (whew), “Let’s go, we’re heading for Shechem.”  The seeds of dishonesty are sewn in the home often.  And he will pay a bitter price because the next chapter is nothing but a story of his son’s lie.

I can well remember, as a youth pastor, working with one teenager who continually lied.  Only to discover later, that his father was being investigated for lying to his company.  Now, don’t misunderstand, I’m not implying that every dishonest child has a dishonest parent.  I know because I was a dishonest child and my parents were honest.  But so often the seeds of  honesty or dishonesty are sewn there and watered there by  what the child observes.  The child hears us call in sick, knowing we’re going golfing or fishing.  The child is told to tell so-and-so on the phone, they’re not home.  And the seeds are sewn.  I read last week about a California homemaker who was observed going through a supermarket tapping various items.  And behind her came her two little children, who would pocket the items she tapped.  I read, as well, of one woman who was apparently pregnant.  She walked out of the grocery store, or she was,  and the assistant manager was suspicious and he stopped her.  Later in the security office, she gave birth to a chuck roast, and two pounds of butter, and some syrup.

What will occur, I believe, is a result of the scheming and the dishonesty of  Dad. And it remains a stark lesson, to those who are fathers and mothers, to take note.  I will not elaborate on the incident, it would take an hour, but I at least want to tell you what happened.  Dinah is the daughter of Jacob.  In chapter 34, why don’t we read verse 1 and 2.  “Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.”  That is, she went out to see what Shechem was all about.  It was a wicked city.  It reminds me of Lot and the tragedy of pitching his tent near Sodom and Gomorra.  “And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite,” - this is the son of the king, this is - “the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force.  And he was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her.  So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, ‘Get me this young girl for a wife.’  Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter; but his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob kept silent until they came in.  Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him.  Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.”  Look at verse 13, “But Jacob’s sons” - notice, they’re taking the lead, Dad is silent and will remain silent through this entire incident, Jacob’s sons - “answered Shechem and his father Hamor, with deceit,” - oh, they learned that well - “and spoke to them, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.  And they said to them, ‘We cannot - intermarry - to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us.’”  In other words, we’ve got character.  “Only on this condition - verse 15 - will we consent to you: if you will become like us, in that every male of you be circumcised, then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live with you and become one people.  But if you will not listen to us to be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and go.”  Look at verse 24, they agreed.  “And all who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and to his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.  Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city unawares, and killed every male.  And they killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went forth.”

Two things are really the tragic element of this chapter.  Obviously, what we have just read is sad.  But as we were observing the life of Jacob, let me give you two things to jot into your notes.  The first tragedy is Jacob’s silence.  He hears of the incident and remains silent.  No comment!  And finally, when he speaks, the second tragedy is found in his rebuke.  Look at verse 30, “Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi,” - finally he speaks, after the murdering and the conniving, and what does he say - “You have brought trouble on me, by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I shall be destroyed, I and my household.”   In other words, “What really bothers me about this incident is the fact that you have caused grief on me.”  No comment about murder.  No comment about deceit.  Just a slap on the wrist.  Why?  I think it’s because, he had lost all moral fortitude up to this point with his sons.  He couldn’t say, “No.”  He couldn’t discipline.

At this time, God intervenes.  Look at chapter 35, “Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.’”  What was it about Bethel?  If you look up on the map or you do a little research in the atlas, you’ll discover that it’s just a barren region with slabs of rock on a stretch of broken hills.  The pasture land is not that fertile.  What was it about Bethel that would cause God to invite Jacob back?  I’ll tell you, it was because Bethel was the place of intimacy with God.  Bethel was the place where God had visited Jacob.  Bethel was the location where the altar of Abraham stood.  In effect, ladies and gentlemen, God was inviting Jacob back to Himself.  He was inviting him home.

I want you to notice that Jacob obeyed and the trip was marked by two things.  First of all, it began with repentance.  Look at verse 2, “So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods which are among you,’” - it’s interesting that they even got them in the first place - “’and purify yourselves, and change your garments; and let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and has been with me wherever I have gone.’  So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which they had, and the rings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid” - or buried - “them under the oak which was near Shechem.”  It began with repentance.  The idols had to be buried and left behind.  Reminds me of Acts, chapter 19, verse 19, at Ephesus.  The revival is taking place and it’s interesting that the believers gather all their books of witchcraft and they make a bonfire and they burn them.  Repentance begins with a change.  It is an about-face.  There is no possibility that God would ever accept idols in Bethel.  And so the path back to God and intimacy with God began with repentance.

But I want you to notice, secondly, that the trip included great sorrow.  There are several deaths.  Look at verse 6, “So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him.  And he built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel,” - which means “God of the house of God” - “because there God had revealed Himself to him, when he fled from his brother.”  Note this, it’s interesting that God would include this.  “Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; it was - literally - named” - “oak of tears.” If you’ve been studying Jacob with us, you’ll remember that Jacob had a very close relationship with his mother, Rebekah.  He would never see her again.  But somehow, perhaps out of her concern for her son when he left to go to the old country to find a wife, she said, “Here, take Deborah, my trusted servant with you.  She’ll watch over you.  She’ll care for you.”  And we have every reason to believe that, for 20 years, Deborah served Jacob.  And here one of the last remembrances of his dear mother dies.  And I think it’s included to let us know that sorrow has begun.  And he buries her under the oak and he names it “oak of tears.”

But that’s not all, look at verse 16.  Chapter 35, verse 16, “Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and she suffered severe labor.  And it came about when she was in severe labor that the midwife said to her, ‘Do not fear, for now you have another son.’  And it came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.  So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”  One of the greatest little love stories in the Bible.  Here a man worked for 14 years for this woman.  And he loved her, obviously, from all that we’ve read.  She now dies in giving birth to her second son.  And once again, the procession halts and they have another funeral, and sorrow increases.

But that’s not all, look at verse 27, “And Jacob came to his father Isaac” - here it has been 20 years, they are reunited - “at Mamre...(that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned.  Now the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty years.  And Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people, an old man of ripe age”.  Jacob returns home after decades.  He finds his mother is already dead and soon after his return, his father dies.  And there, Esau and Jacob are reunited, at the funeral.  Esau and Jacob, they’re probably still eyeing one another but yet sorrow has always had a way of bringing people back together.  And they are, in a sense, reunited at the grave and then they part.  They will never see each other again.

But Jacob’s sorrow increases.  One more, chapter 37, would you look ahead, verse 31 to 34.  We’re going to study this is detail later. But Joseph is his dear son.  It’s his memory of his wife, Rachel.  But the brothers, deceiving their father, said that Joseph had died.  You know the story.   Chapter 37, verse 31, “So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat, and dipped the tunic in the blood;” - chapter 37, verse 32 -  “and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, ‘We found this;’” - they are still deceiving - “ please examine it to see whether it is your son’s tunic.” - not “our brother’s”, but “your son’s” tunic - “Then he examined it and said, ‘It is my son’s tunic.  A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!’  So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days.”  Joseph was his brightest hope.  And I would imagine that Jacob limped out to some secluded spot, some quiet, shady piece of land, and he dug a hole.  And, I would imagine, that Jacob laid the tunic of his son in the hole and buried it and wept.  And he mourned for many days.

Studying the sorrow of Jacob has revealed several insights.  Let me give them to you right now.  If you have notes, you’re following along.  Number one, obedience to God does not exempt us from sorrow.  And I say that because Jacob was obeying God.  God said, “Return to Bethel,” and he did.  He was following the voice of his God and it was in that time he buried three of his dearest friends.  Secondly, sorrow is not always sent as God’s punishment.  You remember the story of Job, how they said, “It must be sin, Job.”  Yet it wasn’t.  Thirdly, sorrow is never sent without God’s permission.  Would you remember that?  It is never sent without God’s permission.  Even the words of Joseph, at the end of Genesis, ring true.  He’s remarking to his brothers after Jacob’s death, they’re afraid that Joseph will retaliate, and Joseph said in chapter 50, verse 20, “God planned all this for good.”  And though you and I can’t see the good in sorrow, like Joseph we have to believe that God is involved, God is in control, that God is behind the scenes.  But fourthly, and especially related to Jacob, sorrow is God’s choicest tool in developing maturity.  I think of Hebrews, chapter 5, verse 8, that says, “Jesus Christ, even though He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”  Hebrews 12:6 says, “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,” - the word is “paideia” which literally means “SON making.”  And sorrow is in the larger scope of  that discipline which literally makes us mature.  It’s all part of the process of “Son making”.  And He does it to those he loves.

Did Jacob grow up?  Did he mature in the faith?  Very quickly, let me show you why I believe he did.  There are several marks of maturity in the aging patriarch.  And the first one, if you’re following along, is Jacob’s conviction regarding Egypt.  You know the famine has come.  Joseph has been serving in Egypt.  Jacob is at his wit’s end, he doesn’t know what to do.  Now Jacob, the old Jacob, would have packed his bags and headed for Egypt.  That’s the granary of the world.  But now I believe, in evidence of his spiritual maturity, he no longer wanted to compromise his position.  He wanted to stay in the land of blessing, even though it meant hunger.  And so the old Jacob is no longer visible.  But the new Jacob, Israel, hesitates.  God comes to him in chapter 46.  Would you turn ahead there?  Chapter 46, verses 1 to 4, “So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.  And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob.’  And he said, ‘Here I am.’  And He said, ‘I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there.  I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes.’”  I love that.  That evidence of maturity, in that he wanted to obey the word of God.

The second mark is his contentment in meeting Joseph.  Look at chapter 46, verse 28, “Now he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out the way”.  This is where they’re all getting together now in Egypt.  We’ll study this later in detail.  “And Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel;” - I can’t imagine that meeting - “as soon as he appeared before him, he fell on his neck and wept on his neck a long time.  Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now let me die, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive.’”  The interesting thing is that, after weeping, he did not bitterly complain, “Oh God has robbed me of so many years with you.”  No resentment!  There is an element of peace and contentment, which has long since been missing, in Jacob’s life.  Contentment is one of maturity’s greatest qualities.

I notice a third thing, and that is character as he blesses the Pharaoh.  Turn to chapter 47,  verse 5, “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Your father and your brothers have come to you.  The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know any capable men among them, then put them in charge of my livestock.’”  In other words, “Give them work and I’ll pay them.”  “Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.”  Now note this.  Don’t miss it.  You have to use your imagination.  Joseph leads his aged father into the splendid courtroom of the Pharaoh.  Jacob is uneducated.  He has been a wanderer.  He has lived in tents.  Probably dressed in rough clothing.  And he limps into the courtroom.  I can imagine that scene, as Jacob is surrounded by wits and wisdom and splendor, gold finery, and the majesty of the great Pharaoh, the ruler of the known world.  And yet, what’s interesting, is that Jacob doesn’t cower, he doesn’t grovel.  The text implies he holds out his shaking hands, and that old man blesses the Pharaoh.  There is a moral splendor in one who walks with God.  There is an inherent majesty that cannot be intimidated.  And I love this old man walking into the courtroom and HE, with Pharaoh bowing his head, blesses that man.  What strength.

One of the great delights in studying this man’s life has been studying the last few days of his life.  Because, not only is spiritual maturity evident - he’s grown up, -  but faith is evident as well.  And I want to give you four things.  The first evidence of faith is seen in his burial request.  Look at chapter 47, verse 29, follow along with me,  “When the time for Israel to die drew near, he called his son Joseph and said to him, ‘Please, if I have found favor in your sight, place now your hand under my thigh’” - which was the way of making a vow or covenant - “and deal with me in kindness and faithfulness.” - that is - “’Please do not bury me in Egypt, but when I lie down with my fathers, you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.’  And he said, ‘I will do as you have said.’  And he said, ‘Swear to me.’  So he swore to him.  Then Israel bowed in worship at the head of the bed.”  Here is this man, unable to get out of the bed, knowing he is about to die, and he requests that he is buried, not in some splendid mausoleum in Egypt, but he wants to be taken to that humble cave of Machpelah.  Why?  Because that is the place of God’s choosing.

The second thing that reveals faith is his blessing of Joseph’s sons.  Chapter 48 tells the story of how Joseph brings his two sons to Jacob and Jacob holds out his trembling hands, and he now is blind, and then he blesses them.  And what’s the interesting thing of this blessing?  Look at verse 19, chapter 48, he says, “he also” - one of the sons - “shall become a people and he also shall be great.  However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”  In other words, “I know that the promise of God is true.  There will one day be a nation.  There will be a seed.  Although I am way over here in Egypt, I know one day this land will be ours and it will be inhabited by our people.”  What faith.

Jacob’s faith is also seen in the content of his prophecy as he calls his twelve sons to his bedside.  He is now about to say his last words.  And so he takes one son at a time, twelve in all, and they come up to the bed.  And he, with a trembling voice, gives them a final blessing.  He prophecies as to what will happen.  I don’t want to look at all of it, but I want you to notice verse 10.  He’s talking to Judah, and you remember Judah will be the one from whom David will come.  That will be the messianic line.  Notice verse 10, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,” - note this, underline it - “until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”  “Shiloh” means “the Rest-Giver.”  In other words, the line of Judah will reign until “the Rest-Giver” comes.  Who is Shiloh?  We know it is Jesus Christ, who one day said to the teaming masses, “All who labor and are heavy laden, come unto me, and I will give you rest.”  “I am the Rest-Giver.”  The question is, how did Jacob learn that name?  Where did he learn the name of Shiloh?  I would agree with one of the old commentators of yesteryear, F. B. Meyer, who suggested perhaps it happened when he was wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, which is Jesus Christ.  And you remember Jacob, just before the angel left, said, “What is your name?”  And the text doesn’t tell us.  All it says is that the Angel of the Lord turned and blessed him.  Perhaps it was then that he whispered in Jacob’s ear, my name is Shiloh, the Rest-Giver.  Perhaps that played on his mind and now as he prophesied he knew that one day that Rest-Giver would come back to rule!  What faith.

Finally, faith is seen in Jacob’s last words.  Look at chapter 49, verses 28 to 33, “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them.  He blessed them, every one with the blessing appropriate to him.  Then he charged them and said to them, ‘I am about to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site.  There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah - the field and the cave that is in it, purchased from the sons of Heth.’  When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.” In other words, Jacob is saying, “Let me lie in the land of promise together with my fathers, holding, in a sense, this land in fee, surrounded by the emerging nation.  That’s where I want to lie,  because I look forward to the time when God will fulfill the promises to my father Abraham, and my father Isaac, and to me.”

So what does God say of Jacob?  Jacob is entered into the “hall of faith” in Hebrews, chapter 11, where God makes specific mention of his faith in his old age - “when he’s leaning on his cane”, the text says.  That was when Jacob evidenced faith.  God also chooses to mark the scriptures with a personal title that is used in relation to Jacob more than any other patriarch.  God chooses you and I to remember him more often as “the God of Jacob” more than “the God of Abraham”, more than “the God of Isaac.”  God would have us know Him as “the God of the stumbler”, “the God of the failure,” because the story of Jacob is really the story of God’s grace.  “The God of the sinner” who finally repented, who finally rested, who finally, in his old age, trusted in his God.  The question is, ladies and gentlemen, do you have a personal story of when God’s grace invaded your life?  He is “the God of Jacob.”  Is he your God as well?                             

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