Last week in our look at the life of Jacob (through the book "Escaping with Jacob" by David Ramos), we continued to see how Jacob's selfish choices impacted his family. He managed, through trickery and deceit, to steal his brother's blessing from their father, but in the process has broken the familial bond between them. His father is heartbroken; his brother is enraged and seeks revenge. His mother, who loves him best, now has to help him flee for his life. The tension mounts and we wonder if, and how, this will be resolved.
Week 5: Read Genesis 28:1-9 (Isaac's Mercy)
"The dust has settled from the betrayal just a chapter before and Jacob is preparing to set off. He is going to live with his uncle Laban. His father, Isaac, commands him not to take a wife from the Canaanite women while he is gone but, instead, to follow his mother's plans and marry one of his uncle's daughters.
Up to this point there has been no evidence that Jacob was a submissive, obedient child. His actions would attest to quite the opposite. However, Jacob follows his father's orders. Maybe he is scared, or maybe Jacob is realizing that this might be the last time he will ever see his parents alive. During this farewell, his brother Esau is realizing how he has disappointed his father. He quickly goes and marries a more suitable woman, likely in the hopes of gleaning any last blessing he can from his father.
Clearly there are some family issues at work here. There is a deep divide in the family: Rebekah and Jacob versus Isaac and Esau. Every character in this text is operating out of their own best interest. Rebekah wants to save her (favorite) son. Isaac wants to protect his legacy. Esau wants to be blessed. Jacob [now just] wants to survive. Yet in the midst of this turmoil and betrayal something amazing happens. In addition to the blessing Isaac had given Jacob in the chapter before, he is now handing over the blessing of Abraham. Isaac knows Jacob is going to be the one to carry on the family legacy and, Lord willing, the vehicle through whom God will fulfill God's promises.
When I see this scene and think about what it really means, the word I keep coming back to is mercy. Isaac had mercy on Jacob. He could've cursed him and sent him away immediately. But he didn't. The dictionary defines mercy as: "Forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish." Isaac had every right to punish Jacob. His own son had betrayed him on his deathbed. Nevertheless, he chose to give the incredible gift of mercy.
As we will see, mercy will come to define the latter part of Jacob's life just as much as deception defined his early years."
Takeaway from today's lesson: No one is beyond the gift of mercy.
Prayer: God, thank you for your mercy - I would not be where I am without it. Please help me show some fraction of that mercy to others. Amen.