Who is Jacob’s God?
The God of the one who has taken advantage of others to benefit herself.
Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.(Genesis 25:30,31)
Jacob’s God understands a person’s belief that it is up to her to take care of herself. Surviving and/or thriving is her only goal. By hook or by crook, she’ll do what she can to attempt to accomplish her agenda, keeping herself and her tribe safe and in power.
In this situation we find Jacob doing his thing, boiling a pot of soup. He’s not preferred by his father, he doesn’t know how to hunt and fish, but boy does he know how to cook! And so he does. He was the original “foodie.” I can picture the scene. Jacob’s choosing only the finest, most unique ingredients to make his lentil soup appealing to all the senses. He takes great pride in his ability to produce the perfect meal in both presentation and taste.
His oaf of a brother stumbles in, dirty from the hunt; he’s been so occupied with the stalking of game, that he forgot to eat and now he’s starving. He lives in the moment, he believes that unless he eats NOW he will die. His appetite is so strong that he is willing to sell his birthright for a cup of soup.
I doubt he was really on the edge of death and Jacob did too. I imagine Jacob had witnessed a similar scene many times throughout his life. Esau, the impulsive, hot-headed, now-or-never guy, wanting what he wanted and wanting it now.
This time, though, Jacob has a plan.
The birthright carried the honor of the family, the wealth and authority of the Father was passed on to the firstborn son. With such an inheritance a man was insured respect and possessions. The other children had no such guarantee.
Jacob wanted the birthright and took advantage of his brother’s temperament and hunger to gain it.
Jacob was blatant with his plan to take care of himself. I am usually not that obvious. I don’t cheat anyone out of their inheritance, but I do rush to beat the other shopper to the empty check out line at the grocery store. Me first, I’m important, my needs are paramount, my time is more valuable than yours. You, well, you can get in line. This taking care of self is so subtle and so insidious, it is rarely called out for what it is: a lack of trust.
We live in fear, it is hard to trust that we will be provided for, that we will be valued or accepted, that we will be satisfied or pleased.
We live from a scarcity mentality. Will there be enough to go around? Better make sure I get my share (and then some). We are the Israelites hoarding manna, the rich man building a new barn to store all his excess goods. We guard against tomorrow.
There is some wisdom in such preparation, of course. But the line is fine between wisdom and fear. Are we trusting in the value of our stock portfolio to insure our safe and secure future? Or do we remember there are no guarantees apart from God’s promise to transform us into the image of Jesus. And God will use all situations to bring about this promise. Our lack and our supply are equally capable tools in the hands of God to shape us.
For me, one of the ways the fear-based greed comes into play is in the area of food; it is not just energy to fuel my physical well-being, food must entertain me, occupy me, or comfort me. My day is ordered around trying to guarantee my palate’s satisfaction. I’m planning my lunch as I eat my breakfast. This is a very subtle way a God-given good, gets twisted into a temptation to take care of myself.
Things such as God’s presence, the company of friends, wisely spending my money, caring for my long-term health are sometimes not as important to me as making sure I can eat what I want. It’s up to me to insure my satisfaction. Sorry God.
Maybe you have areas of your life like this? Places where it’s not obvious that you are undermining God’s promise to provide for you, but you are covertly insuring your agenda. Or maybe your fear is more in-your-face, such as a health crises or threatened financial setback. Either way, we need the help of Jacob’s God. The one who stays near, who reminds us that all will be well, whose words tell us we are more important than the sparrow, that we are destined for perfection and union. Let us cling to Jacob’s God in the face of our fear.
Read about the God of the Screw Up