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Thursday, May 30th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 25

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 27-34

Jacob, a Prince with God

Genesis 25:27-34


Our study centers around Jacob, one of the ancient heroes of the faith.

1. Jacob was an Hebrew of the Hebrews. He was, in fact, the head of the Hebrew nation, because from his loins came the twelve sons whose families formed the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob was not only an Hebrew of the Hebrews in his headship of the nation, but he was an Hebrew of the Hebrews in the characteristics which unto this day dominate the race.

2. A Jew is a Jew. We just spoke of the fact that the characteristics of Jacob can be traced down through the ages, and be found to culminate in the Jews of this present hour. This is a matter worthy of pondering.

There is something about the Jew, beside his facial makeup, which tells us that he is a son of Abraham. There is an unchanging mode of action and sense of vision which distinguishes him from all other men.

3. A message for us. When we think of Jacob, we think of his dreams and visions and aspirations. We think of his yearnings for his father's blessing, and for the coveted birthright. All of these things should spur us on to press toward the mark for the prize of our upcalling.

When we think of Jacob we think of the sorrows which followed him, and of the struggles which overtook him by the way. We are reminded of the nation of Israel that they too have known much of sorrow and much of sighing. During the centuries they have been driven from their homes, as Jacob was driven from his. They have often cried, as Jacob cried, "All these things are against me." We, too, are children of sorrows, for in the world we have tribulation.

When we think of Jacob we think of a man guarded and guided by Jehovah. The God of his fathers led him in the way. He guided him, and brought him through many dangers, trials and tears, into ultimate and glorious triumph. God is now leading His people Israel, and He will lead them on until, in the triumphs of His grace, He brings them back and restores them.

4. A man loved of God. The Bible says, "Jacob have I loved." We know that he had his faults, but God loved him. God loved Jacob before he was born, and He loves him still. The Children of Israel are pre-eminently a people of God's love. He chose them out of the nations, and He set His love upon them. He loved them, not because they were more in number than any other people, but because He loved them.


1. A contrast in two boys. Jacob and Esau were twins, and yet how different they were in many ways! Jacob was smooth and ruddy of appearance, Esau was rough and hairy. Esau was a man of brawn who loved the wilds of the woods and delighted in the open air, the fields, and the chase. Jacob was a man who loved the indoors: he was, no doubt, slighter in build, and more retiring in disposition. In the sports of youth in which most boys delight, Esau would have led the way.

Perhaps, the most striking contrast in the two men was in their character. Esau lived for the carnal, desiring to satisfy his earthly appetite; Jacob lived for the spiritual, desiring to inherit the promises.

2. The meaning of the birthright. Esau came first into the light of day, and Jacob followed almost immediately after. The few moments of time, however, which elapsed in the birth of the two boys, gave Esau the claim to the birthright.

In the case of Esau and Jacob, the birthright meant more than the primal heir to Isaac's fortune. It meant more than inheriting the place of authority and headship, the one over the other. The birthright was preeminently a spiritual heritage, carrying with it the privileges of the line of descent to "the seed of the woman who was to bruise the serpent's head." That "line" in One destined to set up the Millennial Kingdom, reigning on David's throne.

3. The birthright despised. Esau, coming in hungry from the hunt and smelling the pottage which his brother Jacob had cooked, sold his birthright to appease his carnal appetite.

Jacob, quick to see his opportunity, proposed to buy Esau's birthright. Esau, crying out that he was ready to die, said, "What profit shall this birthright do to me?" He sold out cheap. Jacob realizing the eternal values at stake was happy to give the paltry temporals for the priceless and eternal spirituals.

II. THE TRICKERY OF JACOB (Genesis 27:6-7 )

1. Isaac getting old. We are almost sorry as we think of Isaac in his old age. He seems to have lost much of the spiritual vision that marked his younger life. We remember how he once went as "a lamb to the slaughter" with undaunted faith and courage.

The time had come for Isaac to make his last will and testament, and to hand down his blessing to his sons. That blessing would naturally fall to Esau. Jacob, and Rebekah the mother of Jacob, both were fearful lest Isaac should pass and pledge his blessing to Esau.

2. Rebekah's scheming. Rebekah was partial to Jacob. She knew a mother's love, and she was determined at any cost to make her favorite son the heir of his father. In this Rebekah failed to believe God, and to trust God to work out His purpose and His plan.

Reckless of consequences, she took matters into her own hands, and, calling her son, she told him how he might steal from Esau the blessing. While Rebekah was altogether wrong in her trickery, yet we can but admire her self-sacrifice in behalf of the one she loved. From that day she was robbed of the very one for whom she cared: inasmuch as Jacob was soon forced to flee from the wrath of Esau, and his mother never saw him again.

3. The entangling web. When Jacob, dressed in skins, approached his father, he did not know to what extent his deception would lead. He not only acted out a falsehood, but he told a positive untruth. He said, "I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: * * eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me." Not alone did Jacob lie, but he dragged the Name of the Lord his God into his deception. He said in answer to Isaac's query as to how he found the venison so quickly, "The Lord thy God brought it to me."


1. Esau's wrath. When Esau heard that Isaac had blessed Jacob, he wept sore. He found, however, no place of repentance with his father. The aged Isaac knew that he had been deceived by Jacob, and yet, realizing that God had spoken, he dared not change his blessing. From that day Esau hated Jacob and took an oath to slay him.

2. Sending Jacob away. When the mother saw what she had done, and that her son's wrath was so intense, she urged Jacob to depart to a place of safety. She assured herself that Esau, who was of a fiery disposition, would soon pass over his period of wrath and be willing for Jacob to return. Thus, under the plea of departing to get a wife, she obtained Isaac's command for Jacob to go.

3. A mother's sorrow. Many years passed by in a fruitless yearning for her boy. Jacob was far away serving Laban. Jacob, also, yearned for his mother, but he never saw her again.

As we read the story in Genesis, we readily agree that God purposed that Jacob should receive the blessing; and yet, we cannot but know that Jacob would have obtained a fuller blessing under God's own guiding hand, had he and his mother kept their hands off, and allowed God to work out His own plan.

IV. THE HEAVENLY LADDER (Genesis 28:11-12 )

1. A vision. Jacob was wearied and worn. He was also borne down by a sense of loneliness and of fear. Jacob hurried away, he knew not at what moment Esau might pounce upon him.

Jacob was standing now upon his own dependency. Heretofore, he had been under the guide and instruction of his father, and of his mother. Now thrust upon his own resources, he was forced suddenly to face his responsibilities alone. It was then that God drew near to Jacob, and Jacob saw a ladder reaching from earth to Heaven and the angels of God ascending and descending upon it.

2. A voice. As Jacob marveled at the vision, God spoke to him, saying, "I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father * * the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed." Thus did God encourage Jacob and promise to go with him, and to keep him and to bring him again into the land.

It is in the time of need that Christ comes to us. Upon the troubled waters that smote the ship, the Lord came walking to His own. He still comes. He comes, saying, "It is I; be not afraid."

3. A vow. When Jacob had awakened out of sleep, he said, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not." He saw that far from home and human friends he was still in the house of God, and at the gate of Heaven. Then Jacob arose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had used for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it, and he called the name of that place, "Bethel." Then he vowed a vow, saying, "If God will be with me, * * then shall the Lord be my God: * * and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee."

V. AN ANCIENT LOVE STORY (Genesis 29:18 )

1. A genuine love. Our verse tells us, "And Jacob loved Rachel." This love was real. It was Heaven-planned and Heaven-blessed.

2. A love in the Lord. To be unequally yoked, can spell nothing but disaster. God does not sanction the marriage of a Christian to a non-Christian, "Thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son." Such an unholy alliance will only turn the hearts of God's children away from following after Him.

3. A love of sacrifice. Jacob was willing to serve seven years for Rachel. How remarkable does the Scripture read, when it says that those seven years "seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her"!

Love makes work light. No task is too great, ho sacrifice too strong for a pure and holy love. There is Another whom we love:


1. The fears of the flesh. Years have passed by since Jacob left his home.

At last, however, Jacob turned his face toward home. As he went along the way, he went with fear. The wrath of Esau had not worried him during the years of his absence, but now, that he was returning to take his place at the head of his father's house, the fuller meaning of his birthright lay before him, and as he thought upon it once more, the old-time dread of Esau bore down upon him.

2. The wrestling of the angel. As he went along the way Jacob rose up and went by night over the brook, and he was there alone. It was then that there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. Jacob had not yet come to the end of himself, and God was meeting him in order to crush out his self-life. As God's ambassador strove with Jacob, Jacob resisted with all the vigor of his being.

3. The coveted blessing. Finally, the angel touched Jacob's thigh and the sinew shrank. From that hour Jacob halted upon his thigh. It is useless to cavil and to argue that the Lord's wrestling with Jacob was a spiritual one. Not so. The Lord came in physical form and wrestled with a physical man. Jacob's thigh literally was touched. Unto this day the Israelites commemorate that act as a physical fact, and refrain from eating from that part of the animal which stands for the sinew which shrank.

It was when Jacob, weakened, ceased struggling and began only to cling, that the Lord said, "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." It is when we cling, and not when we strive, that God will bless us even as He blessed Jacob there.

VII. IN THE SHADOWS (Genesis 47:9 )

When the aged Jacob stood before Pharaoh, he said, "Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been." Jacob had been a man of many sorrows. Struggles had beset him by the way, but when the Lord had tried him, he came forth as gold.

1. There was the news of his mother's death. That had come to him from across the plains. Jacob loved his mother, and yet now, she was gone, and he could see her no more.

2. There was the death of Rachel. The one whom Jacob had loved, and with whom he had walked so many years, had gone. Unto this day travelers step aside to shed a tear at the tomb of Rachel.

3. There was the supposed, death of Joseph. The three dearest to the heart of Jacob were torn away, one at a time. When the brothers brought to their father the news that Joseph was dead, and when they showed him the coat of many colors all stained with blood, then the grief of Jacob knew no bounds. He fully believed that the son of his love had perished. The Bible says, "He refused to be comforted; and said, "For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning."

4. There was the death of Isaac. When Isaac died and was gathered unto his people, then Esau came to his burial; Jacob, too, was there. How different the men appeared! Esau, the mighty, the man proud of his rank; and Jacob, the humble, limping, broken, and stricken son. That day Jacob felt indeed bereaved, and doubtless he said, "Ye will bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave."

As we think of Jacob's sorrows, we must not wrongly judge him. He was a mighty man of God. His sorrows only perfected him, as a prince of the Highest.



Jacob became a "prince with God" through many a trying experience.

"' Before corn be ripened it needeth all kinds of weather. The husbandman is glad of showers as well as sunshine; rainy weather is troublesome, but sometimes the season requireth it.' Even so the various conditions of man's life are needful to ripen him for the life to come. Sorrows and joys, depressions and exhilarations, have all their part to play in the completion of Christian character. Were one grief of a believer's career omitted, it may be he would never be prepared for Heaven: the slightest change might mar the ultimate result God, who knows best how to ripen both corn and men, ordereth all things according to the counsel of His will, and it is our wisdom to believe in the infallible prudence which arranges ail the details of a believing life. 'All things work together for good.'"

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Genesis 25". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/genesis-25.html.
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