Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebekah, younger twin brother of Esau and father of twelve sons that formed the Hebrew nations that Moses delivered from Egypt. His fourth son Judah became the father of the Jews. At birth, he held on to Esau’s heel; hence he was named the supplanter or the one that overreached (Gen.25: 26). For the first years of his life, Jacob lived up to his name. Yet, in spite of who he was and what he did, God reshaped this man into the father of a people that would become the apple of God’s eye and the way for God’s Son to enter the world.
Jacob, disguised as Esau and with the help of his mother, stole the birthright of the firstborn and the blessings. Rebekah shipped her boy off to Laban her brother where he ended up marrying Leah, Rachel and their maids with whom he fathered twelve sons and one daughter. While on the way to Laban, Jacob felt God tagging at his conscience via a stairway to heaven. Instead of surrendering to God Jacob demanded that God prove His loyalty to him and then he would make God his Lord (Gen.28: 10-22). Apparently, Jacob’s idea of God being with him meant to get rich through cunning and cheating his father-in-law out of his wealth and gods and he got away with it; but not all the way (Gen.29-31).
Jacob had to face Esau, his brother, whom he had cheated and robbed of their father’s blessing. Once more he tried to con his way by offering a large herd to his brother and send ahead his servants and even his family to appease Esau. He spent the night where he had dreamed about the stairway to heaven. This time his dream turned into a wrestling match and Jacob was losing. He no longer demanded but begged to be blessed. The victor granted Jacob’s request and renamed him Israel. It was at Bethel that Jacob gave up his old ways and in his new role as Israel, he no longer feared his brother or anyone else in the world (Gen.32-33).
What God has done for Jacob, He can do for us. Like Jacob, we too must shed the old habits and nature before we can face the future fearlessly (II Cor.5: 17; Col.3: 1-11).