The story of Jacob and Esau, twin brothers born unto Isaac and Rebekah, personify a prophetic paradigm of human history that still engulfs our world and inflames passions today. The Bible discloses that the two boys struggled with one another even inside the womb. Jacob grasped the heel of Esau at birth, as if he seemed to already be acutely aware of the prestige of being the firstborn son. Later in life, Jacob, with the help of his mother would deceive his father and steal the blessing of the birthright. Rebekah inquired of the Lord as to why there was so much turmoil within her womb during her pregnancy. The Lord answered her with these prophetic words:Oh How I am longing for You, sweet Beulah Land
Genesis 25:23 And the LORD said unto her, “Two nations are in thy womb”, and “two manner of people” shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
Thus began the drama of the conflict between the two boys, and also the manner of the two peoples, that sprang from their posterity. The Arabic peoples come from both Ishmael and Esau because the latter and his descendants intermarried with the descendants of Ishmael (Genesis 28:9). Esau became the father of the people of Edom, whose descendants dwelt in the region around Mt. Seir. But the nation and peoples of Israel is the progeny of the second twin born to Isaac, the one named Jacob.
Jacob's name in Hebrew was Yakov. His name translated meant “supplanter,” or “one who takes by scheming and trickery.” This name turned out to be the very nature and character of young Jacob. He was a schemer, and a man seeking to supplant his brother, and literally lived with the ideology of getting ahead on his own proclivity. Jacob used every situation to gain an advantage. He believed that for him to succeed in life that he had to rely on his own power to out maneuver everyone else. His self-serving nature tended to get him into some trouble however. On the night before re-entering into the land of Canaan with his wife and family, “Jacob was troubled”. And he had a reason to be so troubled. His brother Esau had sworn to kill him for stealing his birthright.
Genesis 27:41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.
As long as Isaac remained yet alive, Jacob knew he was safe from Esau, but after the passing of his father Jacob knew that his deceitful ploy had gotten him into serious trouble. Undoubtedly he had worried over Esau's pledge to slay him. Now, as Jacob needs to cross over Jordan, he starts plotting a new scheme to save his household. He decides to divide up his family and goods into two camps, in the hopes of salvaging one of them in case Esau should strike at them. But, in reality, Jacob knows that it is he himself that Esau wants to devour, so he stays behind. Jacob began to struggle within himself. It surely seemed to Jacob that he was cornered, and without any hope of surviving the linchpin of Esau's revenge. Finally at long last, Jacob being out of schemes in his dilemma with Esau, begins to beseech God in prayer:
Genesis 32:9-11 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou ( God ) hast shewed unto thy servant;
( Jacob-Israel ) for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.
Jacob has finally concluded within his own heart that he deserves no mercy. He sees very clearly that apart from God, he has no hope in this world, and no escape from the wrath of Esau. Apparently God had brought Jacob to this very humbling point so that Jacob could see the error of his ways. Now Jacob faced the ultimate choice that every human being must come face to face with. Do we trust and believe God, or do we continue to pursue our own agendas? Jacob says in his prayer that God has showed unto him the truth, and that all of his scheming has only brought him to the edge of a hopeless precipice. Now, Jacob beseeches the Lord God for Deliverance! “Deliver me from the hands of Esau” who hateth me, prays Jacob. Having been a schemer all of his life, and then being out schemed by Laban, Jacob has become humbled, and come to the end of his self-promoting ways. Now he needs real help, help that was beyond his power to conjure up. Jacob, finally at long last relying upon the Lord for deliverance, places his faith in the following verse:
Genesis 32:12 And thou saidst, I ( God ) will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.
The transformation of Jacob has come full circle. His wrestling match with the Lord has demonstrated to him that the blessing of a great nation through his seed could only be accomplished through total faith in God. He realized that his own scheming could never accomplish the wondrous miracle of God's covenant. Therefore, The Lord God decides to give Jacob a new name to match his new faith, a name that would become synonymous with the travail of his people.
Genesis 32:28-30 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. ( a typology of the remnant )
Genesis 35:10-12 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 Abraham and Isaac, to thee ( Israel ) I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.
The nation of Israel has endured a long night of Trouble, and a wrestling match with God over the inheritance of the Promised Land. Israel has schemed and consorted with every power in the Gentile world, but all of its clever handiwork has not procured for them a safe passage into the Promised Land. Indeed, history reveals that all of Israel's diplomatic dealings to gain a better standing in this world, has utterly left them still subjected to the hatred of Esau, and indeed the hatred of the whole world. Without the help of God, Israel can never find true peace, nor ever realize the promise of the Covenant of Jacob's grandfather, Abraham.
Israel is not through scheming with the powers of the Gentile world. Soon, Israel will enter into a covenant relationship with a False Messiah, seeking peace and safety from the hatred of her adversaries. But because Israel has not yet come to the point that Jacob came to by the river Jabbok, when he wrestled with the Lord, and finally submitted his will to the Lord, she will endure a “Time of Trouble”. ( Jacob's Trouble )
But Israel shall be saved out of her Time of Trouble, but only after she learns to cry out to the Lord for his mercy, just as Jacob did those many years ago! Then the Lord shall give Israel a new name……”Beulah Land”, sweet Beulah Land ( Isaiah 62:2-4 )
Jeremiah 14:7-9 O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name's sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee. O the hope of Israel, the savior thereof in “Time of Trouble”, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night? Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not.
Psalms 14:7 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad
Psalms 135:4 For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.
Isaiah 65:9 And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah ( Jesus Christ ) an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect ( Israel ) shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.
Micah 4:2-3 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
By: Darrell G. Young