Jacob was a trickster. He tricked his older brother into selling his birthright (i.e., a double portion of his father’s inheritance and leadership of the family) for a bowl of stew! Then he tricked his father into giving him the blessing that was meant for the eldest son, the very same brother. Here’s how it went down.
Jacob’s mom, who liked him best, overheard Dad tell brother Esau to cook up a special meal…it was time for the “I’m about to die blessing.” Esau had been waiting for this for years. It had the power to transform his life. He put on his hunting clothes and headed for the deer blind.
Meanwhile, Mom let Jacob in on the circumstances and shared her plan to steal the blessing. While she cooked dinner for Dad, she had Jacob dress up like a goat (since Esau was quite hairy) and put on his brother’s best clothes. Then, dinner in hand, Jacob went in to his dad and pretended to be Esau.
Dad, being blind and hard of hearing because of his age, couldn’t tell the difference between the boys without closer inspection. He beckoned Jacob closer so that he could check for fur and get the smell of him (Esau was a bit gamey). Jacob with his goat fur and Esau’s clothes passed muster and proceded to get blessed.
By the time Esau arrived with his dad’s favorite meal, it was too late. These types of blessings weren’t the kind you could reload and refire. They were one-shot wonders of the most potent variety. Esau was understandably furious and ready to murder his younger brother, so Jacob grabbed his knapsack and headed for safer territories.
This led him to Uncle Laban’s (on his mother’s side of the family). Now trickster-ing ran in the family. Jacob had it. His momma had it. And her brother really had it. Jacob was about to get a spoonful of his own medicine.
As soon as Jacob arrived, he fell head over heals for his cousin, Rachel. He was so convinced of his love for her that he offered Uncle Laban a deal. Seven years of shepherding work for the hand of his daughter. Uncle Laban had already married off his sister to Abraham’s wealthy side of the family. Maybe this marriage could bring some folding money his way.
Uncle Laban consented. Jacob worked his tail off. Seven years passed. The marriage date arrived, and Uncle Laban threw a huge party – lots of drinking, then more drinking, a few belly shots, a pitcher of mojitos and a mind eraser or two… Suffice to say, Jacob was hammered, sloshed, tanked, blitzed, bombed, wrecked, three sheets to the wind…choose your euphemism.
Uncle Laban led him to his tent, then sent his daughter in so that they could consummate the marriage. Because she was dressed up in her sister’s wedding garb and wearing a wedding veil, and because Jacob was blind drunk, it’s a little understandable that he didn’t recognize that he had the WRONG SISTER!
No joke. Uncle Laban pulled a fast one and wedded Jacob (the marriage night was the equivalent of a ceremony) to his older daughter Leah instead of Rachel. The next morning, Jacob fumed, he ranted, he raved…but there was nothing he could do. He was hitched.
He worked out a deal with Uncle Laban to work seven more years for Rachel’s hand and took it in advance this time. But Uncle Laban continued to be a thorn in Jacob’s side until he made his getaway two wives later (that’s four total if you’re counting).
Are you sensing any irony in Jacob’s misfortune? His mom has him dress up and pretend to be his older brother so that he can steal something precious from his blind father. His uncle has his oldest daughter dress up and pretend to be her younger sister so that she can steal something precious from blind-drunk Jacob. I’d say he got what he had coming.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6:7)
In other words, if you plant good seeds, you’ll get a good crop, but if you plant bad seeds… The principle of sowing and reaping means that good deeds are repaid – and usually with abundance. You plant one seed in the ground, and it grows into many new seeds. But the principle works both ways. Bad deeds are also repaid. Hosea said it like this:
They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. (Hosea 8:7)
When we try to get some bad deeds past God, we often get back much more than we bargained for.
Jacob did. Sisters competing with each other for sons is no picnic, and four wives instead of one is not the lottery that some men might think it is.
Rachel did. She never saw her favorite son again, never met her daughters-in-law, never held her grandchildren.
Uncle Laban did. Jacob eventually bested him in the trickster competition and made off with the largest part of the flock, both Laban’s daughters and all twelve of his grandchildren.
Sometimes we sow and reap; sometimes we sow and weep.