'Week 1

Wednesday Reflection

2nd December 2020

'Jacob, Isaac's son'

'I (God) will give you
 the land which I gave to
 Abraham and to Isaac,
 and I will also give it
 to your descendants
 after you'

(Genesis 35.12).

The story of Jacob
first appears in Genesis 25:19-28
when Rebecca is pregnant
and feels Jacob
and his twin brother, Esau,
struggling with
each other in the womb.

The twins' struggle
continues after birth,
with Jacob becoming
his mother's favourite,
while Esau,
the firstborn,
became Isaac's favourite.

Jacob forces Esau,
a hunter,
into selling him
his birthright
for a bowl of soup.

Years later,
at Rebecca's urging,
Jacob pretended to be Esau
and tricked Isaac
into giving him
Esau's firstborn blessing -
then fled to live
with his uncle Laban
before Esau could respond.

On his journey,
one night Jacob
had a dream in which
angels went up
and down a ladder
connecting earth to heaven.

God appeared before Jacob
and renewed the
covenant that God
had made with Abraham.

After Jacob has dreamed
of a ladder up to
heaven with angels
going up and down on it,
God says to him:

'I will give you the land
 which I gave to Abraham
 and to Isaac,
 and I will also give it
 to your descendants
 after you'

(Genesis 35.12).

When he woke,
Jacob built an altar
and called the place Bethel,
"the house of God"
before continuing
his journey

At Laban's,
Jacob went from
deceiver to deceived.

In another case of one
sibling posing as another,
Laban promised that
after seven years
of labour Jacob
could marry Laban's
daughter Rachel.

Laban hid his elder
daughter, Leah,
under the bridal veil,
thus tricking Jacob
into marrying
the wrong sister.

Laban then made Jacob
work another seven years
before letting him marry Rachel.

Jacob also acquired
two handmaids,
sometimes referred
to as concubines,
who bore some
of his children.

After a while God
told Jacob that it was time
to leave Uncle Laban
and go back home
to Canaan.

He had prospered
to such an extent
that Laban no longer
felt very kindly toward him.

So Jacob gathered his wives
and children and his
belongings and he
slipped away while
Laban was out shearing his sheep

While traveling south,
Jacob came upon a stranger
who challenged him
to a struggle.

The two wrestled all night;
At long last, the stranger-
an angel of the Lord,
or perhaps God himself-
relented, and declared
that Jacob would be
known as "Israel"
("he who prevails with God")
(Genesis 32:28).

Just as Jacob
had struggled with God,
so too would the nation of
Israel wrestle for
centuries with its
obedience to the Lord.

Jacob decided to call
the place Peniel
("God's face"),
"I have seen God
face to face
(Genesis 32:30).

Jacob and Esau were
reconciled and Jacob
finally made his home
in Hebron, Canaan,
until a seven-year
famine caused him to
send his family to Egypt.

We know the story
of Joseph and his
brothers and how
Jacob joined them
and settled in Egypt.

Jacob's 12 sons
(in order of birth) were;
Reuben, Simeon, Levi,
Judah, Dan, Naphtali,
Gad, Asher, Issachar,
Joseph and Benjamin,
became the Patriarchs of
the 12 Tribes of Israel.

With the exception of Joseph,
whose two sons
Mannasseh and Ephraim,
who were adopted by Jacob,
become the Patriarchs
of two tribes (Genesis 48).

The story of Jacob's
later years more
properly belongs to the
story of his youngest
son Joseph.

Late in his life,
a famine prompted Jacob
and his sons
to migrate to Egypt,
where he was reunited
with his son Joseph,
who had disappeared
some years before.

Israel died in Egypt
at the age of 147 years
and was buried
in Canaan at Hebron.

When we read about Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob,
their complicated
family lives
and their various
trials and tribulations,
we can learn a lot that
is applicable to
our own human
situations today.

But we're also seeing
how the knowledge of God
was growing
and deepening
in the lives of one
particular family
who were chosen
to reveal him to the world.

God's promises that the
Patriarchs would guide
the people of Israel
throughout their history.

How are our relationships
with our family and friends?
Are there any divisions
that need healing,
relationships needing
to be restored,
hurts that need
to be forgiven?

This Advent could we
consciously make
an effort to heal old wounds,
restore broken
relationships and
forgive long standing hurts?