There are two main characters in this section that the drive the action of the narrative. Jacob and Esau. Esau is a man of the earth with a very earthy focus. He is looking for instant gratification, immediate satisfaction, to have his appetite satiated, and is willing to sacrifice the most important things for the near term pleasure. In the story, his appetite is focused on a bowl of stew, but it could have easily been any number of things…earthy things that can only bring short-term satisfaction, leaving him only wanting more. He has no eye for spiritual things, and willingly forfeits an incredible opportunity to be a part of God’s redemptive plan.
Jacob is an ambitious man with a skewed spiritual focus. He is calculating and patient, willing to wait, at least in the short term, to gain the advantage. He does have an eye for the long term, but believes that he must make it happen. Like Abraham and Sarah in the Hagar/Ishmael episode, Jacob knows he’s promised an incredible destiny, but can’t see how God could bring it about. The birthright is a major roadblock. Jacob must step in and help God out. He has spiritual ambition and is willing to force his way into an incredible opportunity to be a part of God’s redemptive plan.
And so we have two brothers with different world views (not unlike Cain and Abel)…but who both seem to struggle with contentment. Esau’s is a physical contentment; Jacob’s is a spiritual. Esau wants what he wants right now; Jacob also wants what he wants…good things, but he’s unwilling to wait/trust God for it.
What about you? Who do you identify with in this story? Are you more like Esau, looking for immediate gratification, focused only on the earthy things, building your own kingdom? Or are you more like Jacob, recognizing the value of the spiritual but relying on your own abilities to bring it about? Maybe somewhere in between? We’re hoping for the third character…the one who’s valuing the right things, spiritual things, and pursuing them in the right way, waiting on God. That would be Abraham at the end of his journey…but we must struggle on learning to trust God through trial and error, painful experiences and wonderful surprises. It’s a lifelong journey.
We’re reminded again of the patience and faithfulness of God…His relentless love. He will work through Jacob; He will mold his character; He will make him Israel… And this same God is patient and faithful with us and continues to pursue us with a relentless love. He’s not done with us either.
May God give us the grace to see our own failures, even in pursuing Him, and may He continue to mold us into the kind of people who not only want the right things, to want what He wants, but who are also willing to trust Him to bring them about.
Until next time…stay salty.