Part 1 – Shadows of the Kingdom, Chapter 5 – Patriarchs
Deceit instead of faith
[Bible references: Genesis 25:29-34; 25:23; 27:1-40]
The biblical descriptions of Jacob and his twin brother Esau are not flattering. Esau is the older twin brother, but for a pot of porridge Esau was willing to give up his birthright. To seal the deal, Jacob and his mother, Rebekah, would conspire to deceive Isaac: They would take advantage of Isaac’s blindness by deceiving Isaac and setting it up for Jacob instead of Esau to receive the primary blessing from Isaac. This deceit happened even though when Rebekah was pregnant with the twins that Yahweh had told her that “the older would serve the younger,” so it is curious that Isaac still insisted on giving the primary blessing to Esau instead of Jacob and that Rebekah saw fit to use deceit to help Jacob receive that important blessing.
A higher order
[Bible references: 1 Samuel 3-4, 15-16]
The case of Jacob and Esau is not the only example where Yahweh would choose to upset the common order of things. In this case, it was side-stepping the normal primogeniture and instead have the older sibling serving the other sibling. In other times it would be stronger serving the weaker, the sons being displaced by someone outside the family. This pattern of displacing the normal order of primogeniture and inheritance is repeated later in Samuel following Eli instead of his sons Hophni and Phineas and in David replacing Saul instead of Saul’s son Jonathan. And in all these cases, we see God preparing someone new to lead while he arranges to end another’s leadership.
Nation of wrestlers
[Bible references: Genesis 31:25-45; 28:3-4; 27:42-45; 28:10-22; 32:22-32; 35:22-26; 30:21; 32:1-5]
After the deception of Isaac, Jacob’s would continue his pattern of deception. Yet, despite that character flaw, God would continue to bless Jacob with success just as he had blessed Abraham and Isaac. Jacob’s deceit with Isaac and Esau forced him to leave home and visit his uncle Laban, in Haran for many years. On the journey to Laban, Yahweh shared with Jacob the promise he made with Abraham and with Isaac, that “all the people on earth would be blessed through you.”
While staying with Laban, Jacob would continue his deceit to take advantage of Laban. Then years later, when Jacob left Laban to return to the promised land, God saw fit to engage with Jacob on both the journey to and from home. On the journey home, Jacob now has two wives and two concubines, thirteen children and a great wealth in flocks, herds, and servants. On that trip home, Jacob finds himself in a wrestling match with a man that Jacob learns was God. During that struggle, Jacob was forced to confess his character by admitting that his name means “deceiver,” but then was given a new name, Israel (which means “wrestles with God”). Wrestling with God would become a hallmark of Israel’s descendants (that is, the nation of Israel) and is evident throughout the Old Testament.
 Sproul, RC “A Wrestling People” ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/wrestling-people.
 Although there are many examples of people questioning God, the Psalms contain many examples.
What things in our life do we tend to “help God with” rather than figure out what his ways are?
Read Genesis 25:21-34; 27:1-40. The family dynamics in Isaac’s family were typically messy and complicated as many real families are and yet God will carry out his purposes. How can we use the example of Isaac and his family to give us confidence that God is able to carry out his purpose for us?
Sometimes what looks like chaos to us is actually a pattern that we haven’t figured out. One example is encoded messages – we can’t read them without knowing the underlying order. What patterns from God confuse you?
Read 1 Samuel 3-4; 1 Samuel 15-16. These passages illustrate how God continues to carry out his will despite the messiness of our lives. How does that affect how you pray?
God is able to fulfill his purposes as we wrestle with him. Do you feel compelled to wrestle with God about anything?
Read Genesis 32:22-28. God would rename Jacob to Israel, which means “wrestles with God,” which would eventually become the name of the nation descended from Jacob, and the nation through which the Messiah would come. Can we be strong in our faith in God, if we have not wrestled with God?