Often times you will hear people talk about the “Old Testament God” versus the “New Testament God” and their struggle to reconcile the perceived differences. People view the “Old Testament God” as wrathful, judgmental, condemning and punishing, while the “New Testament God” is loving, gracious, compassionate, and forgiving. Yet what stands out to me as I read this week’s passage of Jacob and Esau is God’s amazing grace in the midst of deception, betrayal and lies.
The passage begins with Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau, scheming to deceive her husband Isaac in giving the blessing to their younger son Jacob. An elaborate ruse ensues and Jacob is given the much coveted blessing instead of Esau. Jacob’s life is in danger once Esau learns of the deception, so Jacob is sent to Laban, Rachel’s brother living in Haran. Here Jacob receives a taste of his own medicine as Laban offers Jacob his youngest daughter Rachel in marriage after working for him for seven years. But like his sister Rebekah, Laban deceives Jacob by giving him his older daughter Leah instead. Jacob has to work seven more years in order to marry the younger daughter Rachel. What trickery and deception!
Yet in the midst of all of this, God comes to Jacob in a personal and gracious way. As Jacob flees his home and makes his way to Haran to live with his uncle, God comes to him in a dream. In the dream God reminds Jacob who He is: “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac.” He then blesses Jacob saying, “The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as the dust of the earth…And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go…I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” Wow! Does God know what Jacob has done? Doesn’t he know how Jacob has deceived his brother Esau out of their father’s blessing? So although Jacob is living with the consequences of his deception, God continues to bless him and to use Jacob to bless others.
When Jacob awakes from his dream, he responds by saying, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” Isn’t that often the case in our own lives? As we go through various circumstances in our lives whether because of our own choices or not, we are often unaware that God is in that place with us. Like Jacob, we are caught off guard that our Heavenly Father is with us, that He meets us personally, that He promises to bless us and that He reminds us that He will never leave us. What circumstance do you currently find yourself in that you may be unaware that your loving, gracious, compassionate and forgiving God is with you?