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Israel (Jacob)



This quip is a good comparison to Jacob's life: Two men were discussing the character of a third. "Let me describe him this way," said the first. "He's the kind of guy who follows you into a revolving door and comes out ahead of you." ── Bits & Pieces, October, 1990.


JACOB. Genesis 25:27

    In thinking of Jacob as a supplanter, we have not given him credit for many good things about him.

Ⅰ. The plain man. “ Jacob was a plain man.” The margin of the Revised Version gives it that he was “ quiet, or harmless, Heb. perfect.” The Hebrew word is generally rendered elsewhere “ perfect.” It is thus given in speaking of the “ perfect man” in Psalm 37:37; 64:4. It is not always the most skilful or cunning that have the most character about them. Very often the quiet, studious boy who plods sway at his lessons, and is called a “ muff,” has the most character in him. A big drum makes plenty of noise when it is beaten, but it is empty for all that. So with many who make a loud noise as to acquirements. The fishermen that Christ chose to be His disciples were obscure and unlearned men, but filled with the Spirit of God, they were the men that God used to “ turn the world upside down.”

Ⅱ. The separate pilgrim. “ Dwelling in tents.” The dwelling in tents was always the sign of a separated life (Heb.11:9). The patriarchs confessed that had no city here, but that they looked for one. We show we are pilgrims and strangers on the earth, as we live a life separate from evil and walk in fellowship with God (1. Peter 2:12).

Ⅲ. The wily Jacob. We certainly cannot justify the means by which Jacob obtained the birthright. To say the least, it was unkind and mean for Jacob to take advantage of his brother’s hunger, even though he knew the Lord had said, “ The elder shall serve the younger.” Jacob’s scheming is the blot upon his life, the spot in the sun of his character, and he had to reap what he sowed. He deceived Isaac, and Laban deceived him. It never pays to seek to hurry the hand of God. Men say, “ the end justifies the means.” That is a principle God never recognises. The end was the same when Moses disobeyed God in smiting the rock, but God did not justify the means, for he shut Moses out of the land for his disobedience.

── F.E. MarshFive Hundred Bible Readings


JACOB’S BLESSING. Genesis 32:25-30.

Ⅰ. Jacob received no blessing as long as he was struggling (verse 25). Jacob was resisting the man who came to him, instead of submitting. Trusting in the Lord is the condition to be in to receive blessing, not striving against Him.

Ⅱ. Jacob’s humiliation is the beginning of blessing (5:25). The angel touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh. His strength was gone, as his thigh is out of joint. The thigh out of joint humbled Jacob, and led him to see his weakness, and that brought him in joint with God.

Ⅲ. Jacob’s clinging is the secret of his blessing (verse 26). Jacob will not let the angel go till he blesses him; but mark, it is while he clings he is blessed, and not while he is striving. The resistance of unbelief and self-will will never receive blessing, but the tenacity of faith always does.

Ⅳ. Jacob’s changed name an evidence of blessing (verse 28). From Jacob, a supplanter, he is called “ Israel,” i. e., a prince with God. In like manner they who believe in Christ have their name changed from children of wrath (Eph.2:3) to children of God (John 1:12); from sinners to saints.

── F.E. MarshFive Hundred Bible Readings



Jacob on his way to Padan-aram, and his being met and encouraged by God, is one of the brightest features in his life.

Ⅰ.The Obedient Son. “ Jacob went out from Beersheba,” c. (verse 10). Jacob was not merely fleeing from Esau’s ire in leaving home, but he was obeying his father (verse 7), in going to seek for a wife among his uncle’s people. “ Beersheba” means “ the well of the oath” (Gen.21:31); and “ Haran” signifies “ parched, dry.” It will often be found that the path of obedience will lead us from some well of prosperity to a parched place of adversity and trial. But better be there with the Lord than in some pleasant way without Him.

“Out of my stony griefs

Bethel I’ll raise.”

Ⅱ. The Weary Man (verse 11). Tired with his journey, he seeks a resting-place amid his not very inviting surroundings, for, as Stanley says in speaking of the place, “ The track of the pilgrims winds through an uneven valley, covered, as with grave-stones, by large sheets of bare rock, some few here and there standing up like the cromlechs of Druidical monuments.” Lonely, tired, home-sick, with the sky for his ceiling, and a stone for a pillow, he falls asleep, and finds that God gives to His beloved in sheep (Ps.127:2,R.V.,M).

Ⅲ. The Privileged Dreamer (verse 12). Jacob sees in vision the way cast up from earth to heaven, thus connecting heaven and earth, and opening up communication between Jacob and God.

Ⅳ. The Enriched Descendant (verse 13). God reveals Himself as the “ God of Abraham and Isaac,” and repeats the promise to Jacob He gave to them, that he and his seed shall possess the land. Thus Jacob finds the blessedness of a godly ancestry. Grace does not run in the blood, but notwithstanding there are advantages in having godly parents.

Ⅴ. The Blessed Seed (verse 14). Here again is a repeated promise. (See Gen.12:2,3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4). After the flesh Israel has been a blessing to al notions (Rom.9:4,5), and they are yet to be a greater blessing (Rom.11:12; Isaiah 60.)

Ⅵ. The Sustained Pilgrim (verse 15). The presence of the Lord is to be the sustaining power of Jacob in all his wanderings. Mark what that meant to him, and what it also means to the believer in Christ.

Ⅶ. The Astonished Sleeper (verse 16). Jacob little expected that the Lord would meet him where He did, but the unexpected often happens. When we little expect to find the Lord He finds us. Jacob is astonished as the recalls his dream, and is reminded that God has been speaking to him. Many who are spiritually asleep would do well to wake up to the fact that the Lord has spoken to them, and is still speaking (Eph.5:14; Rom.13:11-14).

Ⅷ. The Fearful Confessor (verse 17). Jacob was not the only one who has been afraid in the conscious presence of God. Moses (Hebrews 12:21), Job ( Job 42:5,6), Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5), Peter (Luke 5:8), and John (Rev.1:17,18),were the same. A holy awe and a filial fear should ever characterise those who know the Lord (Phil.2:12).

Ⅸ. The Early Riser ( verse 18). Jacob was no laggard or lie-bed. He was up betimes. Sleepy heads never make wise heads, and sleepy hearts are never warm hearts. The early birds get the worms. The manna must be gathered in the morning, if there is to be the gathered manna.

Ⅹ. The Consecrating Remembrancer (verse 18,19). Jacob changes the name of the place from Luz to Bethel by anointing the pillar he had used as a pillow. “ Luz” means “ departure” or “ perverseness;” and “ Bethel’ signifies the “ house of God.” Many a Luz has been made into a Bethel by the consecrating oil of God’s grace, through faith in Him who died for sinners. On the 10th of May, 1869, at a place called Promontory Point, the junction was made completing the railway communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, in the United States of America. A silver spike was brought by the Governor of Arizona, another was contributed by the citizens of Nevada. They were driven home into a sleeper of Californian laurel with a sliver mallet. As the last blow was struck the hammer was brought into contact with a telegraph wire, and the news flashed and simultaneously saluted on the shores of two great oceans, and simultaneously saluted on the shores of two great oceans, and through the expanse of a vast continent, by the roar of cannon and the chiming of bells. When the awful abyss between God and man had to be bridged, the junction over the deepest chasm was made by the outstretched arms of the Son God, and as the spikes crushed through His opened palms, He cried, “ It is finished,’ and swifter than electric current or lightning’s flash the tidings were winged to the farthest bounds of three worlds. The stairway connecting earth with heaven is completed; the awful chasm is bridged. Luz is transformed into Bethel; Christ by dying has opened up the way to God.

── F.E. MarshFive Hundred Bible Readings


JACOB’S PRAYER. Genesis 32.

There are six things we note about Jacob’s prayer.

Ⅰ. Jacob’s fear of his brother’s anger was the prompter of his prayer (verse 11). The cause of Jacob’s fear of his brother was his mean conduct towards him; hence he is seen cringing before Esau like a guilty culprit supplicating for mercy; and acting like a coward in that he sends one company in front of the other, and sends a present to appease his brother’s anger. Note that any punishment we unrighteously inflict upon others is sure to come back upon our heads. But for all that the Lord listened to Jacob’s cry. What a God of grace with whom we have to do!

Ⅱ. Jacob’s relationship to God is his plea in prayer (ver.9). He pleads his relationship to God in the words. “ O God of my father,” c. If we know God as our Father, the right way in speaking to Him is to call Him “ Father” (see John 1:12,13; Gal.4:6). But if we have not answered God’s prayer (11. Cor.5:20), how can we expect Him to answer ours? A father will often grant the request of his child while he refuses the plea of a stranger.

Ⅲ. God’s promise is Jacob’s argument in prayer (ver.9,12). Jacob pleads two “ I wills” of God. When we can pin our prayers to God’s promise, we are sure He will perform His word. Mr. Spurgeon says, “ Prayer should be pillared on promises, and pinnacled with praises.”

Ⅳ. Jacob’s prayer is mingled with confession (ver.10). All God’s servants have ever confessed their unworthiness.

Ⅴ. Jacob’s prayer is perfumed with praise (verse 10). Jacob acknowledges the mercy he had received from God, and gives praise to God. A thankful man is full of blessing, while a thankless man is full of complaint. If we bless God with our praises, He will bless us with His mercies.

Ⅵ. Jacob’s prayer is definite, personal, and answered (5:11). “ Deliver me,” Jacob cries, and the sequel shows how graciously God granted his prayer. His prayer was short and to the point, and it brought a speedy answer.

── F.E. MarshFive Hundred Bible Readings