What It Looks Like When We Take Things Into Our Own Hands: A Story About Two Brothers

original illustration by art.crazed

Once upon a time, there were two brothers, Jacob and Esau. Essentially, Jacob was a jerk who cheated his brother out of everything. Jacob ended up with all the wealth and all the blessing, with nothing left for his big brother. And they (well, Jacob, anyway) lived happily ever after.

Am I the only one who reads this story and goes, "HUH?!" It has always ticked me off to read about how Jacob did all these mean things to his brother (though Esau definitely played a part when it came to paying for his stew) and still ended up getting rewarded by God in the end. How is that fair? I thought cheaters weren't supposed to prosper? It just didn't sit well with me at all.

Recently, I read that story again and still couldn't shake those feelings and questions about why God would reward such deceit. So I decided to do a little investigation...and finally got some answers to these questions that wrestled with my conscience.

In this story of Jacob stealing his brother's inheritance and blessing, I read in my study bible about how God had already promised that Jacob would rule over Esau, even though he was the younger brother. Yet, God's promise didn't seem enough; Jacob and his mother Rebekah decided to take matters to into their own hands and make it happen now. They used trickery and bribery to usher in something God had already promised them, rather than wait on his perfect timing!

Isn't this what we see time and time again, in the Bible and in our own lives? Abraham and Sarah are promised a baby but when she doesn't become pregnant, she has him sleep with her maidservant. God tells us he'll provide for us, but we spend time worrying and fretting about finances and accumulating wealth.

And look at the pain that it caused. The commentary in my study bible points out: Although Jacob got the blessing he wanted, his deceptions cost him dearly. He never saw his mother again. His brother wanted to kill him. His family became torn by strife. Esau became the founder of an enemy nation. He was on the receiving end of deception when he wanted to marry Rachel.

While God still used Jacob's deceptions to fulfill the purpose he'd already established, we have to believe that this was not the plan God had in mind. And had Jacob waited for God to bring it about, we can only imagine how different his life--and perhaps even the world--might have turned out!

Realizing all this has really opened my eyes to making me aware of not trying to force God's hand in my life, but to wait on him to bring about the things he has promised. (Specifically, things like the right job!)

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  1. Thank you, this was wonderful! I recently read this passage and it is such a good reminder. I think, the world thinks money is the blessing, but the Bible makes it clear it isn't.

  2. So, so true. Our pastor at church has been preaching on that idea for the past few weeks and it has been such a good reminder for me during these times of not knowing what the future might bring, job-wise, etc.!


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