Today’s reading was the story of how Jacob got so many sons (that’s a weird chapter), how he got a little bristly with Laban, and then how he started becoming fearful of his brother Esau. Jacob had a lot going on. Not to mention a little scuffle with God Himself.
My initial reaction to this passage was “these are the most bizarre, pretentious, superstitious people, and you built your nation of Israel on this foundation?” I get that the whole sleeping with the maids to get children and having more than one wife is a whole cultural thing that seems atrocious today, but was normal at that time. But to eat mandrakes [Aside: aren’t mandrakes those loud annoying baby looking things from Harry Potter?? Funny how pop culture always invades] because of a superstition that you will become pregnant, or to breed your cattle and goats near ‘rods’ so that they come out speckled and striped…kinda weird. Or is it? How often do we buy into superstitions so that our fortune goes the way we want it to? Even something simple as thinking you’ll be happy because of getting the next gadget seems to fit into this category. Or reading horoscopes. Or self-help books. Basically anything that you rely on that takes the place of relying on God. That’s what they did. Shoot. I do that. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge…
Jacob seems awfully deceitful throughout this story. He even rubbed off on Rachel and she became deceitful herself. I think if Jacob could see how he went down in history, he wouldn’t be too proud that he was known as ‘The Deceiver.’ If there was one attribute that you would be known for after you died, what do you think it would be? I would like to think I would be known for something on the good side of the spectrum. Unfortunately, I don’t think that would be the case. I lie sometimes. I could be known as Sarah the Liar. Sometimes I don’t have the greatest work ethic, maybe I would be known as Sarah the Lazy. Most likely though, I would depart this world as Sarah the Procrastinator.
A lot of people would say, well that’s not fair, there’s more to someone than just one attribute. And I agree. I think this is true for Jacob as well. When we see an adjective we think of it in the purist sense, kind of how we see bad guys as pure evil. Jacob might have been a deceiver, but I’m sure he didn’t always see it that way. I bet there were probably a lot of great things about him. I think he was human, trying to figure things out, and sometimes he did things his own way instead of looking to God. That sounds familiar.
At the same time, God’s grace gives us ample opportunity to grow in Him and change our ways so that the admirable attributes start appearing more often and we are filled more with the character of God than the character of the flesh. Every little thing counts. Just like a pointillistic painting is made up of tiny dots, your life is made up of tiny moments that shape who you are. But only God can truly see the painting from a distance.
So don’t be surprised if God wants to use you for greater things. He sees you as know one else sees you. Just like he saw Jacob.