Over the coming year I’m going to post some extracts from The Glory of the Story, my father’s devotional introduction to biblical theology in the form of 366 daily readings which show how the Old Testament story is fulfilled in Christ. The Glory of the Story is available as a Kindle book for $2.99 from amazon.com and £1.99 from amazon.co.uk. All the extracts will be from the chaper on the story of Jacob and I’ll usually post them on the first Monday of the month.
The story of Jacob begins in Genesis 25 with the crucial, story-shaping prophecy given to Rebekah, ‘the older [Esau] will serve the younger’ [Jacob]. Jacob’s story then follows a similar pattern to that of Abraham. Both have an early encounter with the Lord, followed by struggles which call for the exercise of faith and which involve long periods of waiting. While Abraham’s story revolves around the promise of a son, Jacob’s revolves around the promise of God’s presence and protection. After his encounter with God at Bethel come twenty long years of service for Laban’s daughters (31:41). Then follows his life-changing experience at Peniel. Jacob is renamed ‘Israel’ and finally reconciled to Esau.
Another thirty years pass before the family moves to Egypt and Jacob is reunited with his favourite son, Joseph. It is a period of human frailty, evident in favouritism, sibling rivalry, hatred and murder. But it is also a time of God’s gracious providence working despite, and sometimes through, such frailties. It is, of course, God’s intention to bring the chosen family under foreign domination until Canaan is ripe for possession (Gen. 15:13-16). So this present chapter leaves us marvelling at the overarching sovereignty of God.
But what about the longer term future? In Genesis 12 God begins to forge a chain of redemption, the last link of which is Jesus (Matt. 1:1-17). According to Matthew the first three links in the chain are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We might have expected the fourth would be Joseph, but surprisingly (to us) the covenant line continues through his brother, Judah.
Take heart from the fact that when Jacob thinks everything is against him (Gen. 42:36), everything is in fact, working for his good (Rom. 8:28).