A Character Analysis of Jacob
Jacob was the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. His mother was Rebekah and his older brother was named Esau. Jacob was the younger of his father's two sons and was the one less favored in the eyes of his father. He was also highly motivated in getting what he wanted. Jacob, however puts his trust in the living God, the God of his fathers, and he becomes the father of the twelve tribes of Israel (God's chosen people). He received the promise of God, and his descendants were made like the sand of the seashore. The calling of God was on his life (Romans 9:13).
Before coming to know the God of his fathers Abraham and Isaac, Jacob made some unrighteous judgments:
Jacob took his brother's birthright in exchange for a bowl of stew. This act in conjunction with stealing Esau's blessing causes Esau to hate Jacob and want to kill him. I believe that Jacob could have avoided this by doing to Esau what he would have Esau do to him. If Jacob had done this, he may have seen that he himself would like to have food given to him when he is starving. Jacob however had no interest in the concerns of others at this point. He could have given Esau some stew without asking for anything in return, but the will of God was accomplished through what he did. I can think of instances in my life when I wanted to buy something and split the cost of the item with someone (not a wrong decision). But at times it got to the point where it was nit-picking because it only concerned pocket change. This was a selfish situation. I then asked the Lord to help me discern when and how to be generous with the money He has given me. God showed me in Malachi 3:10-12 that if I give freely, He will richly bless me. However, I do not just give money to every beggar who comes to me because many of them go and buy cigarettes and alcohol with the money they get (these are obviously not brothers in the Lord, whom we are to be open fisted toward whenever they are in need-1 John 3:17-18). Therefore if someone asks me for money, I may give or offer him food, but most times he is unwilling to accept "just food." This is not a rule set in stone. If someone is in need of food, clothing, shelter, etc., I may just provide for that person what they need. It comes down to basically being led by the Spirit of God and doing His will in each individual situation when dealing with unbelievers.
Jacob also made a wrong decision by consenting with his mother to deceive his father. He deceived his father in order to get his brother's blessing (Genesis 27). I think Jacob could have prevented this unrighteous decision by having had better communication and a good relationship with his dad and by dying to himself (in other words, getting to the root of things--getting his relationship right with God). Then, he would not have been doing things deceptively behind his father's back. Jacob sided up with his mom and did not relate things to his dad. Yes, Rebekah did have the promise that her younger son would serve the older (Genesis 25:23), but I do not know how that fits with the fact that Rebekah helped Jacob to deceive Isaac. It does not make willful sin acceptable in the life of a Christian!
I asked myself when Jacob began to serve God.
It appears to me that Jacob did not make a turn to the Lord until after some angels had appeared to him and before he met with his brother, Esau. Right after a group of angels left him, Jacob found out that Esau was coming in his direction accompanied by 400 men. Upon hearing this, Jacob became very afraid and distressed. At this point, he cried out to the Lord and said that he himself was unworthy of all that God had done for him. Then Jacob remembered the promise God had made to him (to make his descendants as the sand of the sea), and he asked God for deliverance from his brother (Genesis 32:1-12). Afterward, Jacob selected goats, ewes, rams, camels, cows, bulls, and donkeys to give to Esau. Up to this point in Jacob's life, he had been wanting everything for himself as evidenced by his deceitfully taking Esau's birthright and blessing for selfish gain.
As soon as he had sent everyone on ahead of him, Jacob (meaning "one who supplants") wrestled with an angel of God and had his name changed to Israel (which means "he who strives with God"). I think that this was God saying to Jacob, "You have put off your old self and, therefore, you are no longer a 'supplanter'--you need a new name." This is when I believe Jacob began to practice making righteous judgments. From here, Jacob blessed many people such as Pharaoh, his sons, and Joseph's sons. He also had some interesting discernment from God relating to Ephraim and Manasseh: he said that they where going to be his sons and that the other sons Joseph had after them would not be Jacob's and he prophesied that the younger of the two, Ephraim, would be greater than the older, Manasseh (but both sons would be blessed). He spoke these things by faith, and he was commended for what he did (Hebrews 11:21).
When Jacob believed what God had promised him, he showed righteous judgment. At one time God told Jacob in a dream that he would be brought into Egypt, made a great nation, and brought back out of Egypt when Joseph closed his eyes to rest. Jacob did not question God or doubt; he just moved on believing what God had told him (Genesis 46:3-4). Jacob's trust is evident when he has Joseph swear to bring him out of Egypt to be buried in the land of Canaan in the cave of the field of Machpelah.
Jacob also made righteous judgments in Genesis 49 when blessing the twelve tribes. He told Reuben that he would not have preeminence because he defiled Jacob's bed. Simeon and Levi would be scattered because of their fierce anger and violence. And Joseph would be greatly blessed because of his perseverance in God through much trial and suffering. "He [Jacob] blessed them [the twelve tribes of Israel], every one with the blessing appropriate to him" (Genesis 49:28).
I also saw that Jacob had deep, compassionate feelings for his sons. When something bad happened to any of them, he was full of sorrow. When Joseph was thought to be dead, Jacob refused to be comforted. At the thought of losing his youngest son, Benjamin, Jacob said that it would bring his grey head down to Sheol in sorrow. This is a much different Jacob than the one who was always afraid for his own well-being and safety. God knowing Jacob's weakness in that area even reassured him in Genesis 46:3, "I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there."