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Lessons from the life of Jacob

I absolutely love the people we read about in the Bible. I love the fact that they are imperfect and often they make the wrong choices. One of the things that bring me the most confidence in the Bible and in the G-D of the Bible is the imperfection of the people I read about within its pages. If Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Samson, Peter and Paul were perfect people that jumped from spiritual mountaintop to spiritual mountaintopI would have difficulty believing in the Bible. Beyond that, I would find myself in a hopeless place comparing my failures and imperfections with a line of perfect people. Further, the imperfectionsshown in the lives and experiences of the heroes of my faith only demonstrate the mightgrace, and mercy of my perfect G-D.

One of my favorite people in the Bible is Jacob. Jacob is the Peter of the Torah. Let me explain Peter was a man who often first tried to accomplish things by his own power and ability. For instance, when Yeshua (Jesus) was being arrestedPeter pulled his sword and cut off the ear of a servant of the High Priest, only to have Yeshua heal the man’s ear. Peter wrestled often between his faith in himself and his faith in G-D. 

Like Peter we find Jacob having similar faith battles. One example of this is Jacob deceiving his father in stealing Esau’s blessing. Jacob was trying to bring about a prophecy through his own abilities. 

Another even clearer example is found in Genesis 32 when Jacob is returning home from his time in Laban’s house. He sent messengers ahead to meet with Esau and to measure Esau’s anger towards him. The messengers return with word that Esau is on his way with 400 men. Jacob’s responses are found in Genesis 32:8 and 10. 

8 So Jacob became extremely afraid and distressed. He divided the people with him, along with the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps,

10 Then Jacob said“O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father IsaacAdonai, who said to me, ‘Return to your land and to your relatives and I will do good with you.’

Within these two responses to Jacob’s situation, we see the battle between the flesh and the Spirit. What in Judaism is referred to as the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) and Yetzer HaTov (good inclination)? Jacob is told that Esau is on his way to meet him with 400 men. Jacob‘s first response found in verse 8 is the same response too many of us jump to when confronted with what appears to be a difficult situation. Jacob thinks in the physical realm and divides his people and things into two groups. Thinking if one gets killed maybe the other will survive which was a good tactic in the physical realm. By verse 10 Jacob has begun to step out of the physical realm and into the Spiritual realm. Instead of thinking “what am I going to do? Jacob goes to G-D and reminds G-D of His promises. Jacob changes from “what am I going to do?to Father, what are you going to do?”. 

This shift from the earthy to the heavenly, from the flesh to the Spirit, demonstrates a great example to all of us of how we should respond to any and all situations. Not just good-vs-bad. But every decision we make concerning the direction we will go or the actions we will take should be made only once we have shifted into the Spiritual realm. Once we have acknowledged that His ways are higher than our ways. Or as Romans 12:1-3 says: 

1 I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice—holy, acceptable to God—which is your spiritual service. 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of Godwhat is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For through the grace given me, I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to thinkbut to use sound judgment, as God has assigned to each person a measure of faith.

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Eric Tokajer
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, and Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians.

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