Friday, February 1, 2019

The Story of Jacob

There are a couple of interesting things about Jacob that come out as the now-aged man travels to Egypt to see his long-lost son one last time before his death. They are the kind of interesting things that God does all the time, but they are so easy for us to miss - in his life and in our own.

We should not miss the trip that Jacob is making. Remember that it was not that long ago that Jacob was making a long, dangerous trip home to the place where his father lived, in order that he might see his father one more time before Isaac died. This was remarkable, you'll remember, because it was more than 20 years after Isaac was lying on his death bed and Jacob fled to Laban for his own safety. 

Now, it has been likely somewhere around just that long since Jacob has seen his son, Joseph. And so the man takes another trip - the first one was to see his dying father; the second, dying, to see his son. 

It's beautiful enough as a human story, and we could talk about the poetry of it for quite awhile just on that account, but let's not forget that Jacob is Israel, which means that everything Jacob does is a reflection of God's people and what they do. It's part of the story God is telling, part of God's story, and on that account, it's even more interesting to see how this man, this people, makes these two trips. 

For who will come, dying, to see His Son...dying? Poetry, indeed.

The second interesting thing we need to see about the final days of Jacob's life, as he sojourns in Egypt with his beloved son, is how he plays out his own story once more and perpetuates it among his people, his nation, his sons. 

Jacob is, remember, the second son; Esau was the first. Jacob spent his entire life deceiving and scheming and stealing the blessing and the birthright of Esau until eventually, he was blessed as the firstborn, even though he remained second-born and there existed a promise still for Esau.

As he is nearing his end, his son, Joseph, brings to him Joseph's two sons, born to him in Egypt. Jacob has not really met the boys, but they are dear to him nonetheless, and he decides to bless them. Joseph places his sons before his father, one at his right hand and one at his left and then, just before Jacob speaks, he crosses his hands and puts his right hand on the left one's head and his left hand on the right one's head. 

In other words, Jacob - the second son with the first's blessing - blesses the second son, Ephraim, as the first. For Manasseh, the true firstborn, he has but a "promise, too." 

This serves to reinforce the narrative that we looked at when we looked at the first time this happened, this second son, first son dynamic that continues throughout the Scriptures as God works through His chosen people, His second son, with a blessing with a promise for the first, whom He has never forgotten. 

Jacob is an interesting character, indeed, and his is a life we cannot simply read right through; there are so many little details that bring out the beauty in what God is doing in the establishment of His people, Israel. We need to pay attention to these, for they help us to understand more deeply His story. And ours, as well. 

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