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Exodus or Exile? Jacob

The Exodus Motif and Discipleship 3

Genesis 25 – 50

It can be hard to tell the difference between an exodus and an exile, especially when you are in the middle of one.

Roberts & Wilson, Echoes of the Exodus: Tracing Themes of Redemption Through Scripture, 2018, page 75

Every one of us has experienced a time, or times, in our lives where we seemed on some “journey,” sometimes of our doing and sometimes of someone else’s doing. We don’t understand why, what for, or even how. These are good times to remember that “OOPS!” is not a part of God’s vocabulary!

We now come to a biblical family that puts the FUN in dysFUNctional! Let me see if I can put this dysfunction into one paragraph:

Abraham’s promised son, Isaac, was told at Esau and Jacob’s birth that God was going to reverse the common concept of the 1st born receiving the blessing and was going to grant the birthright/blessing to the 2nd born, Jacob (Gen. 25:19 – 27). Esau grew to be a hunter and his father, Isaac’s, favorite while Jacob grew to be a “mild” man (well rounded) and his mother’s, Rebekah’s, favorite. Esau would “sell” his birthright (which wasn’t really his) to Jacob for a bowl of soup at Jacob’s coaxing. Isaac, now blind, would instruct Esau to hunt and bring him some of his favorite food so that he could give him the blessing – in disobedience to God’s revelation. Rebekah would overhear this and has Jacob disguise himself as his brother and fool his father into getting the blessing. Esau would come from the field, fix the food for his father, only to find that the blessing had already been given. He threatens to kill his brother, Jacob, so Rebekah sends Jacob away to Laban, a family member who lives in Haran – the very town where Abraham had stayed on his way from Ur to Canaan.

· Isaac (Dad) was in total disobedience to God’s revelation.

· Rebekah (Mom) tells Jacob to lie and deceive his father.

· Esau (twin brother) had given up his birthright for a bowl of soup revealing his desire for physical rather than spiritual blessings.

· Jacob (twin brother) lied and deceived his father.

Jacob would have to flee and would never see his beloved mother again!

God would have handled this if they had left everything well enough alone!

All of us are dysfunctional because all of us are broken due to the First & Worst Exodus of All Time (Gen. 1 – 3). Our relationships are also dysfunctional because of our brokenness and that of everyone around us. Sometimes we refer to this as our baggage.

Yet, in all of this broken dysfunction, God is working:

· Jacob falls in love with Rachel.

· He is taken in by the family member, Laban.

· Laban deceives Jacob by giving him Leah as wife, rather than Rachel. Jacob would work another seven years to marry Rachel.

· Rachel, who at first is barren, and Leah end up competing to give Jacob the most children. From these marriages come the 12 tribes of Israel. Barrenness is another theme throughout the story of redemption – because it is of God Who has to intervene!

· Jacob asks Laban to let him and his people leave (Moses asking Pharaoh). Laban says no at first.

· God blesses Jacob and his family so that they leave taking much of Laban’s wealth with them, just as Israel would “plunder” the Egyptians (Ex. 12:36).

· Laban’s false gods are shown to be nothing in contrast to the true God (Gen. 31:33 – 35).

· Then there is the night-time crossing of the Jabbok (Gen. 32:22 – 32), a tributary of the Jordan River that Israel would cross into the promised land (Joshua 3:14 – 17).

Are you seeing the pattern here?

Now we come to a major event as Jacob, thinking his brother Esau still wants to harm or kill him, prepares his entourage to meet his brother. Jacob is alone and wrestles with “…a Man…” (Gen. 32:24). Jacob would later say, “…I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

Jacob is given a blessing, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” The name, Israel, means Prince with God or Struggled with God.

Jacob had a lot of problems that he thought were external to him. God, however, knew that Jacob was the problem. We are all Jacob!

Imagine Jacob returning to his worried family. Covered in desert sand, his clothes are torn and his hair disheveled. He walks with a limp. They run to meet him asking where he has been and what has happened. He could have summarized it by saying, “I have just been blessed!”

· Sometimes God’s blessings “hurt!”

· Sometimes an exodus looks like an exile.

Jacob thought he was fighting circumstances and other people. The whole time he was wrestling with God. You see, God will use circumstances (be it slavery in Egypt or a dysfunctional family situation) and people (be they Pharaoh or Laban) to encourage us to lean on Him.

We cry out, “God, please fix this/them!” The still, small voice of God is saying, “But I am trying to fix you – to make you more like Me” (Rom. 8:28 & 29).

Be reminded, God is always at work and will never abandon His own (Mt. 28:16 – 20).

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