That Rat Jacob

Last Sunday my small group studied Genesis 27, which tells how Jacob pretended to be his brother Esau in order to get his father’s blessing. It’s a complex story that could come out of Yoknapatawpha County. All four major characters—Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Esau—operate according to his or her own selfish and blind principles. Their motives are complicated and you can interpret the text in several ways.

You can’t miss, though, that Jacob is a rat. That has to be the major point of the story, if you take it within the larger context of Genesis. Not only does Jacob set out to deceitfully dislodge his brother, he baldly lies to his father and coolly takes the Lord’s name in vain. (27:19,20) The author seems to want to grind it in our faces: the father of the Jewish nation was disreputable, sneaky, lying, and irreverent. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Genesis pulsates with the chaotic energy of human ambition and dysfunction, but somehow God is undeterred. His people move on in their proper direction in spite of themselves. Can anything stop God?

It’s a story of grace, which not only redeems fallen people but uses them while their flaws remain. As Philip Yancey told me in a recent interview, “God uses the available talent.” And what talent we are.


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One Response to “That Rat Jacob”

  1. Michael Says:

    I’m reminded of Psalm 76:10 — Surely the wrath of man shall praise you; the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt.” God uses even the wrath of men in the working out of His plans.

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