Bible character study- Jacob
Staying the course to see your God-given vision fulfilled.
Read: Genesis chapter 28 & 29
In this Bible character study, we look at the life of Jacob. To give you a bit of background: Jacob was on the run from his twin brother, Esau. Jacob had tricked Esau into selling him his birth-right and Esau swore to kill Jacob if he ever set his eyes on him again. Therefore, their mother Rebecca sent Jacob to stay with her brother Laban, in Paddan Aram. On his way to his uncle’s house, Jacob had an encounter with God at Bethel, where God promised him, ‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ (Genesis 28:13-15).
Jacob finally arrived at Paddan Aram, and falls in love with his uncle’s daughter, Rachel. He agrees to work with Laban for 7 years, in exchange for Rachel’s hand in marriage. But things don’t go according to plan. Laban tricks Jacob and when the time comes for him to give Rachel to Jacob to marry, he gives him Rachel’s sister, Leah, instead.
How does Jacob handle this turn of events? How does he stay the course of God’s plan for his life despite this unexpected curveball? What can we learn from Jacob’s story for application in our own lives?
Let’s look at three lessons we can learn from the life of Jacob:
1. Jacob had a picture of God’s vision for His life, and held on to it. Jacob had an encounter with God, where God spoke to him about his descendants, and the blessings that would come to the earth through him. He knew that God had promised to be with him and watch over him wherever he went, and he held on to this promise. God has made this same promise to us, as His children. God promises us in Deuteronomy 31:6 that He will never leave us nor forsake us. So, when things look like they are falling apart around us, and even though we don’t know what else might be around the corner, we can trust that God is in control and is always with us. God has a specific plan and a vision for each of our lives, and He will reveal it to us if we ask Him. When we see God’s vision for our lives, it helps us to stay the course even when the going gets tough.
2. Jacob refused to settle for less than his vision. Laban gave his elder daughter to Jacob to marry, instead of Rachel, who Jacob worked for seven years for. Seven years is a long time by any standards, and Jacob could easily have given up and thought to himself, ‘I need a wife. I didn’t quite get the one I wanted, but Leah will do’. But, he did not. He knew what he wanted; he had a vision, and he refused to settle. When we reach a roadblock in our life’s journey, it can be very tempting to give up, or settle for something less than we know is best for us. Perhaps, you’ve been waiting for something for a while, or you feel like you’ve already put too much work into a particular project, business, or relationship, and you dread leaving it and starting over. The truth is that even when your vision is from God, you will still face challenges and bumps in the road. But, don’t give in to the temptation to settle. Keep your vision in front of you, and ask God for the grace to hold on till that vision is accomplished.
3. Jacob was willing to do whatever it took to ensure his vision was fulfilled. Jacob agreed to work another seven years for Rachel. I believe that this was beyond just a romantic decision, although he did love Rachel very much. Jacob had encountered God, and knew that God’s hand was upon his life. I believe that he saw in Rachel, those descendants that God had promised him, and he knew that she was the one through whom God would fulfil His promise to him. He was therefore determined to make his vision a reality, even if it meant he had to work 14 years for it. This is mind-boggling to me. How committed are you to God’s vision for your life? What are you willing to do to see your vision materialised? Are you willing to invest time? Finances? Resources? For God’s vision for our lives to be fulfilled, we must be willing to do whatever it takes. This means not giving up when we face resistance, or unforeseen circumstances.
Just like Jacob, when you know that God is with you, you can rest assured that He will give you the grace to stay the course of the journey and accomplish His vision for your life.