A MAN WITH FOUR WIVES (2) JACOB
Jacob, the grandson of Abraham overcame many adversities to win God's blessing and became the father of the Israelite people. Although some of his deeds notably his deception of his father to gain the blessing of the first-born son are immoral, he can be regarded as an example of a man who strove for his rightful place in history by winning over his adversaries by hard work, persistence, and enduring faith.
Jacob endured exile and privation for 30 years and his course of service to Laban is a model for those who wish to win the respect and trust of their enemies. His wrestling with the angel shows that a man of strong faith can defeat the spiritual forces of darkness eventually. Most importantly, his sincere humility in front of his brother Esau dramatically reversing the tragic story of Cain and Abel. It is the first recorded example of a man who successfully practised "love your enemy." He restored a damaged relationship of 30 years between two brothers and brought about reconciliation, resulting in peace through unselfish love. Esau was also able to forgive his brother. Jacob first reached out to his sworn killer, his own twin brother. It takes a lot to forgive your sworn enemy.
He was also able to forgive his father-in-law for tricking him to marry his elder daughter, Leah instead of the younger daughter, Rachel. Eventually, he parted from Laban peacefully making a covenant of peace between them.
DIFFERENCE IN CHARACTER BETWEEN ESAU AND JACOB
Both brothers were born as twins, but there is a great difference in their characters. Esau's weakness and unthinking impulsiveness in selling his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup (Gen. 25:30-34) and his marriage to two wives, daughters of the Hittithes (Gen. 26:25) which was against God and his parents' wishes. His thinking was shallow, and he only wanted immediate satisfaction and not thinking of the repercussion of the future. He disdained his birthright and sold it for a mere bowl of lentil soup.
On the other hand, Jacob had greater intelligence, more self-control and forethought, and also he was more shrewd than Esau in terms of marriage. He was not an impulsive man, and he gave much thought on what he meant to do with his life. On his way to his mother's family to get a wife, while sleeping, he dreamt of a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it (Gen. 28:11-15). This signified that there were various steps to reach heaven, and that one must continue to climb up the ladder before reaching the goal.
Jacob did not just accept God's blessing, but made his own vow, "And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God (Gen. 28:20-21).
Jacob made sure that God blessed him before he would accept God on his own terms. Jacob was shrewd, and not impulsive like his twin, Esau. He made sure he would benefit before committing himself. He wrestled with the angel of God throughout the night and would not let go until the angel blessed him. He had tenacity of purpose and would pursue his goal until the very end. Jacob through trials was able to reach the height of heaven by climbing the ladder which stood on earth. All people on earth have to climb the ladder which leads to heaven through trials and temptations.
DECEPTION OF JACOB
The deception over Isaac was instigated by his mother, Rebekah, but he conceded to her instigation (Gen 27:-17). Jacob could have rejected her suggestion, but he finally agreed. Who was at fault, Jacob or his mother, Rebekah? Both were! Rebekah for putting the idea into Jacob's mind and Jacob for succumbing to the deception. Esau was impulsive, but Jacob was calculative! God had to choose one of the twin sons of Isaac to be the patriarch of Israel, and both were not perfect men for both had weakness of the flesh.
Jacob wanted the birthright which belonged to Esau who was born first. The birthright had a double portion of inheritance (Deu. 21:17) and the kingdom was given to the firstborn (2 Chr. 21:3). For example, Prince Charles would inherit the kingdom from his mother, Queen Elizabeth because he was the first born..
Jacob's sins were in bargaining with his twin for the birthright by trading a bowl of porridge and deceiving his father into blessing him instead of Esau. Rebekah overheard Esau planning to kill Jacob after Isaac's death thus sending him to find a wife from his mother's family.
Esau had every right to be angry with Jacob for cheating him of his birthright, and also his blessing from Isaac, his father. No matter how bad a person does to another person, that person has no right to want to kill the recipient. God created him, and it is up to God to decide his fate.
JACOB PAID FOR HIS SINS
God set a universal axiom for us to follow. We reap what we sow.
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Jacob cheated his brother and father and he was repaid in kind by his uncle Laban, who was the greater cheater who outwitted him. Altogether, Jacob slogged for Laban 21 years.
JACOB PAID A HIGH PRICE FOR RACHEL
His determination and unwavering love for Rachel made him a slave to Laban his uncle for he served him fourteen years in order to be married to her. What young man of the 21st century would slog like a slave for the father-in-law so he could marry the love of his life?
Esau married at the age of forty (Gen.26:34) and Jacob was still single. He left shortly afterwards to look for a wife in his mother's ancestral home, and Jacob fell in love with Rachel at first sight reaching an agreement to work for her father so he could marry Rachel. So, Jacob was at least forty-seven when Rachel was given to him.
Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah, the elder daughter and agreed that he should consummate his first marriage with Leah. After fulfilling his duty as a husband for a week, Jacob was allowed to marry Rachel. He had married twice in the space of a week, Leah, the elder daughter of his uncle and Rachel, the younger. He still had to continue to work for another seven years for his marriage to Rachel. The seven years turned to fourteen years.
SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE
From the beginning of the world, God created one man and one wife, Adam and Eve. There are other incidents that support this.
- Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
1 Timothy 3:12
- Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
- Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away:
1 Kings 11:3
- And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wifes turned away his heart. (King Solomon)
CONFLICT BETWEEN TWO WIVES
There was constant conflict between the two sisters, Leah and Rachel, both contending for the love of Jacob. Jacob, throughout his life openly confessed his love for Rachel. Leah, he did not love but continued to have sex and children with her though she was the despised wife.
The majority of men would make love with women whom they do not love. It seems natural and essential to them. Men have sex with women to satisfy their sexual impulse. Love does not enter into all sexual behaviour for men to satisfy their fleshly desire.
The conflict was more between the two sisters rather than between Jacob and his wives. Because Leah was despised, God opened her womb and she gave birth to four sons in succession, each time hoping that Jacob would love her because she gave him four sons. There was no mention of Jacob in rejoicing over the birth of the sons of Leah.
Rachel was greatly distressed over this, and said to Jacob, "Give me children, or else I die." Jacob retorted, "Am I in God's stead who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?" (Gen.30:1-2).
Here Jacob scolded Rachel for being unreasonable in being childless and blamed Jacob for her not having children. What was Rachel's reaction to this tirade? She gave Jacob her maid Bilhah as wife and Jacob made no protest, and went in to her. Bilhah conceived and bore a son. Rachel was pleased for she said that God heard her and given her a son. She admitted she wrestled with her sister and felt she won. Bilhah did have a second son.
Leah had stopped bearing children and to compete with her sister, she gave Zilpah, her maid to Jacob as wife. Jacob did not complain, but accepted the offer. He ended with four wives. Zilpah gave birth to two sons to Jacob. Now Jacob had eight sons altogether by Leah and the two maids.
The conflict between Leah and Rachel continued. Reuben found mandrakes in the harvest field and gave them to his mother. Rachel offered Jacob to be with Leah for the night in exchange for the mandrakes which were supposed to be an aphrodisiac for lovers. Leah accosted Jacob and said he must go in to have sex with her for she "hired" him with Reuben's mandrakes. :Leah conceived once more and gave birth to a son. Eventually, she had the sixth son with Jacob.
At long last, God took pity on Rachel and she bore Joseph, who became Jacob's favourite son. Rachel died after giving birth to Benjamin in Bethel. Jacob's name was changed to Israel.
There was no mention of any conflict between Zilpah, Leah's maid or Bilhah, Rachel's maid over Jacob, but the conflict between Leah and Rachel remained. There was no mention of the maids except the fact that they produced two sons each.
God made no mention of Jacob having four wives nor was Abraham reprimanded for his second wife. Abraham himself did not go out to seek another wife, but Sarah offered him her maid, Hagar. Jacob only wanted Rachel, but Laban tricked him into marrying Leah. Jacob still wanted Rachel and married Rachel after a week. The other two wives, Bilhah and Zilpah were offered to Jacob freely, but he did not resist. His heart was not to seek extra wives, but his sin was in agreeing to the wishes of Leah and Rachel. There was constant turmoil in the home of a man with four wives who fought for his favour.
GOD BLESSED JACOB IN BETHEL
Jacob had made peace with his brother, Esau and they parted and went on separate ways. The Lord told him to go up to Bethel and dwell there and build an altar unto God. Jacob instructed his household to put away the strange gods among them, and be clean and change their garments. Jacob was the first recorded person to love his enemy and God blessed him for doing this.
"And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.
And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply: a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;
And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.
JACOB'S CHARACTER CHANGED
Jacob's character seemed set on a course of striving to be better than his brother even before he was born. He wanted to emerge from his mother's womb before his twin brother. But it was not so, and as he grew up, his character was already formed and he wanted to excel above every one. Esau, who was an avid hunter was more robust than Jacob, the contemplative schemer.
it was Laban, his uncle and father-in-law who taught him a lesson by outwitting him many times in his working for him. He was the underdog, and probably very frustrated during his stay of 21 years of hard work. It took him twenty-one years to change him from a schemer to a humble man in God's eyes. He was willing to humble himself because he was willing to find forgiveness from Esau. He must have known of his wives' inclination towards idol worship. When God called him to live in Bethel, he advised the family to discard all idols, to be clean and to change garments.
The family complied with Jacob's three commands. He hid the idols under the oak in Shechem, meaning he buried them from sight. The family had turned from idol worship, had to be clean in their heart to worship the Lord. It was only after Judah, the fourth son of Jacob was born, that Leah turned to God. Christians must come before God with clean garments like in the Old Testament, where Aaron and his sons presented themselves in special robes when in the temple.
- I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow.
- Let thy garments be always white;
- And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
- Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
- He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white garment;
TRIALS TRAIN IN CHARACTER BUILDING
Trials and tests train in building up the spiritual character in human beings just as raw metals from the earth must be refined before utilization. They have the potential for greatness, but unrefined, they are probably useless. The refining may take some or many steps before they are fit for usage. An unpolished diamond does not shine until it has been polished and shaped to its potential brilliance, and a man of character must be tested to prove his worth before God can use him to accomplish His will. Jacob after twenty one years of servitude had been reformed from a selfish man to a humble man when he met his brother, Esau. His actions showed that he was willing to concede to accept his sworn enemy and accept him on his brother's terms of reconciliation. He became the first recorded man to love his enemy as himself. He was considered by God to be worthy as a patriarch of the twelve tribes of Israel.
1 Peter 1:7
- That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
- And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried:
- And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
A Man with Four Wives (2) Jacob
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- Jacob's Ladder, The Gate of Heaven Genesis 28
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Thus, it was the Gate of Heaven or House of God.
- Jacob Wrestles With A Man
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