During our Sunday School time at Christ Church, we’ve been working our way through the book of Genesis. We are just about to wrap up the life of Jacob, which takes up a very large portion of Genesis. Chapters 27-35 all have to do with Jacob’s life, but he actually first appears in chapter 25 and will not die until chapter 49, almost the very end of the book. This means that Jacob appears in almost half of the book of Genesis.

Several of the “high points” of the Jacob narrative are well-known. While still in the womb, God prophesied that Jacob would inherit the covenantal line (25:23). As an initial fulfillment of this promise, Esau sells his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew (25:29-34). After the brothers grow to be much older, Jacob deceives his father Isaac by pretending to be Esau and receives the covenantal blessing (27:1-29). On the way to Haran (in Syria), Jacob has a vision of a ladder connecting heaven and earth (Gen. 28:10-17). While exiled in Haran, Jacob is forced to work for his uncle Laban and is decieved into marrying Leah as well as Rachel (29:1-30). Upon returning to his family in Canaan, Jacob wrestles with God and prevails (32:22-32).

Here are the outlines of the classes we have had so far:

Gen. 25:19-34 Birth and Selling the Birthright

Gen. 27 Deception and the Inheritance 

Gen. 28:10-22 Jacob’s Ladder

Gen. 29:1-30 More Than He Bargained For: Rachel and Leah

Gen. 29-31 Jacob vs. Laban

We will have at least two more installments before we complete the Jacob mini-series. After that we will cover the Joseph narratives and wrap-up the book of Genesis. There’s so much to say about all of this, and future posts will get into some of the specifics. We will attempt to demonstrate that Jacob is not “the bad guy,” and that he is actually, in many ways, an exemplary character who models the life of faith. Most of all, the Jacob narrative shows us the way that God works to preserve and transmit his covenant line. Jacob becomes “Israel,” and through his seed we are blessed with the messiah.

To be continued.

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