Today in Genesis: “My husband married my sister”

Well, I’ve been reading Genesis again this morning and can’t help but share. I read about Jacob (Isaac’s son) who was the younger twin brother of Esau. His story is one I’ve read many times, yet it still blows me away that God uses him. Early on in life, Jacob manipulated his brother Esau (the firstborn son of Isaac) out of his birthright with some soup. Then, with the guidance of his mother, he deceived his aging, blind father and took the blessing that was intended for Esau. Of course, Esau was furious so Jacob fled from his family and remained separated for decades. He met up with his Uncle Laban for about twenty years, acquiring herds of sheep and goats and marrying Laban’s daughters, Leah and Rachel. Jacob loved Rachel and clearly favored her over Leah, but Rachel couldn’t have children for a long time, while Leah had seven. At one point, Rachel gives one of her servant girls to Jacob to have children for her, then Leah ends up doing the same thing with her servant. Jacob also has a falling out with Uncle Laban, Rachel steals stuff from her dad’s house and covers it up, and…well, if you’ve ever seen tacky day-time talk shows featuring people with really messed up, dramatic love triangles and a bunch of kids with different parents, you pretty much get an idea of what Jacob’s life looked like a lot of the time. Yet, somehow for some reason, God used Jacob to fulfill His purposes. God was with Jacob in spite of everything and blessed him tremendously. Jacob’s son Joseph (the one who was sold into slavery by his brothers) rose to prominence in Egypt and saved God’s people from a great famine.

What stands out to me the most about the story of Jacob is the fact that God still worked in his life and used him for greater purposes, in spite of his flaws, mistakes, and messed up family life. At first glance, it seems like God surely could have found someone better (and I’m sure He could have). However, everyone’s life pales in comparison to God’s holiness; it’s merely by human standards that we judge a person’s life as “better” or “worse” than another’s. At the end of Jacob’s story, he is reunited with a son he thought was dead and witnesses reconciliation among his sons. I am always encouraged by his story because I know that if God could use Jacob with all his issues, he can use me as well. Our God is bigger than our shortcomings, our complicated family relationships, our weaknesses, and our failures. If your life does not look like it is of any use to a holy God, remember Jacob. Remember that the Cross made it possible for us to be reconciled to God so that we could inherit eternal life, but also that we could live lives of meaning that play a small part in God’s tremendously big plans.

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