- Rick LoPresti
The value of spiritual desire
Abraham and Sarah had a fertility problem until God miraculously gave them Isaac 25 years after He promised them a child. (Gen 12-21). Isaac and Rebekah also had a fertility problem for 20 years until Isaac finally prayed (Gen 25:19-26). During the pregnancy Rebekah discovered there were twins, and they struggled in her womb. She asked God why this was happening. God told her two nations of people would come from these twins, the younger would be stronger, and the elder would serve the younger. This was contrary to the custom of the oldest having the place of privilege. This privilege included the blessing which was the spiritual leadership, and the birthright which was the material inheritance. The older was Esau and the younger was Jacob. After they grew, Jacob took advantage of a moment of weakness and talked Esau into selling him his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup when he was tired and hungry (Gen 25:27-34). Later, Rebekah and Jacob conspired to deceive Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing instead of Esau (Gen 27). God had made a promise to Jacob before he was born, but Jacob used his own craftiness to get the promise. The name Jacob means deceiver or supplanter, and so he was.
Jacob was a man with character flaws. He told God he would serve Him if God met his conditions (Gen 28:20:22). That is not how it works. It is our responsibility to meet God's conditions. He married 2 women and loved one more than the other (Gen 29-30). Exodus 21:10 forbade favoring one wife over another. Then Jacob also married 2 other women. He used his trickery to gain flocks from his father-in-law Laban (Gen 30). After his relationship with Laban soured, he fled in secret, and Laban had to offer the peace solution (Gen 31). Jacob was accusatory and argumentative. When his daughter was led into immorality by a stranger, he showed no concern about the situation other than for his own self, and was willing to make an unholy alliance with the very people who had done it (Gen 34). He was more angry with his sons who, wrong or right, at least defended their sister's honor. He never fully embraced his identity change which was reflected in the name change to Israel God gave him. He continued to call himself Jacob. When Reuben fell into immorality, he did nothing until he cursed his son for it on his death bed (Gen 35:22). He showed favoritism to his son Joseph and did nothing about the jealousy he created (Gen 37). He was quick to believe the negative report about Joseph which turned out to be lie (Gen 37:31-36), but slow to believe the positive one which turned out to be true (Gen 45:25-28). He did nothing to correct the immorality of his son Judah (Gen 38). He complained that his circumstances were against him and gave no word of faith to his family (Gen 42:36, Gen 43:6 &14). He refused to trust God to protect his son Benjamin so his family could survive a famine (Gen 41-42). When had the opportunity to tell Pharoah, the most powerful man in the world at the time, about the wonderful God, he said his days were few and evil and not as much as his ancestors.
So what made Jacob the great patriarch? Why did God call Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Why did God say that He loved Jacob but hated Esau (Mal 1:2)? It was because Jacob desired what God had for him., and Esau despised it. He wanted the birthright and blessing and went after them. He wrestled with the angel until he blessed him (Gen 32). We all have our flaws an come up short of perfection. We should not make excuses for our failures, or be presumptuous about the grace of God. Yet when we passionately pursue God, it draws Him to us. "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart (Jer 29:13)." This is more than just seeking God's stuff. It is seeking a relationship with Him. "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded (Jam 4:8)." "Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom (Prov 18:1)." We need to examine how strong our desire for God is because He will not force Himself on us. He will meet us according to our desire for Him.