Meet Jacob. If ever there were a man whose name fit his disposition, it was he—Jacob means “deceiver,” and what an accomplished deceiver, he was! Add schemer, for good measure. He callously commandeered his older brother’s birthright, diabolically duped his unseeing father into giving him the blessing of the firstborn, and he absorbed his father-in-law’s wealth while managing his flocks. “Isn’t he rightfully named Jacob?”1 fumed Esau, his twice-bested twin. Jacob even bargained with God, offering, “If God will be with me and will watch over me … so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God.”2
Deception and scheming declare in devilish tones: my desires are more important than your wellbeing. People are means to our ends, expendable if it comes to that, and injustice is merely collateral damage. “All’s fair in love and war,” we blithely chirp. What we don’t realize when we manipulate and mislead is that treachery and lies are also isolating to us—like Jacob fleeing a vengeful Esau and decades later a cheated Laban, we run away from the consequences of our actions or live in fear of them. Even if we remain, we live at arm’s length from once-trusting, now-cynical victims; though present in proximity, their wounded trust, or what’s left of it, has moved on. There we exist, alone with our spoils.
Yet our scheming is no match for God’s character. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful”3—this is His nature, and He will not waver from it, even in affront; He will not be moved from His redeeming love. He speaks the wise counsel of conviction into our soul, and He allows repercussions of our actions to take their toll—all that we might set aside our conniving ways and turn to Him for newness of life. Wrote Paul, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”4 Yes, in tireless kindness, God waits for the Jacob’s of this world to tire of control and to rest in His wisdom and ways, for our wellbeing is His desire.
Father, how good you are! Even my worst will not change your best. Lead me away from my controlling ways, and strengthen me to trust you and to rest in your wisdom, sovereignty, power and love. Amen.
1 Genesis 27:36
2 Genesis 28:20, 21
3 2 Timothy 2:13
4 Romans 2:4 NLT