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God Chooses Jacob

Imagine you’re a contestant on the show Survivor. You’re on an island somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. You’ve never been in a place like this before, and you know nothing about it. You have to build your own shelter, find all your own food, and do whatever it takes to survive. Think you could do it?

That’s what life was like for people thousands of years ago. It’s hard to even imagine real people walking and talking and living normal lives way back then. They didn’t have restaurants and grocery stores; they had to find or hunt all their own food and cook it themselves. They couldn’t call a real estate agent to help them buy a house; they had to find their own materials and build their own shelter. They didn’t even have electricity! They used fire for heat, cooking, and light. They really knew what it meant to be survivors and live off whatever the land provided for them.

We can read about some of those people in our Trailbooks – the Bible. We know that everything in the Bible is true. It’s important to remember that these are true stories that happened to real people. Even though their day-to-day lives were a lot different from ours, they had the same feelings and went through a lot of the same things we do.

Two of those people were twin brothers named Esau and Jacob, and we can read their story in the book of Genesis, the very first book in your Trailbook.

Even though they were twins, Jacob and Esau were definitely not identical. They were actually very different from each other! Esau was a strong, outdoorsy type who could hunt basically anything and turn it into a gourmet meal. If he was a Survivor contestant, he’d probably win. Jacob, on the other hand, was a quiet guy who lived in a tent and just liked being at home. On top of that, Esau was born first. Back in those days, that was very important. The firstborn son had special privileges and responsibilities. He became the leader of the family and managed all their money once his father got too old, and his younger brothers usually had to work for him. And when their parents died and all the money and things they owned were passed down to the kids, the firstborn son got twice as much as anyone else in the family!

So if God was going to choose one of the twins to become the leader of a great nation, which one do you think He would choose?

If people were choosing, we would probably choose Esau. He was stronger, better at hunting, and he was treated like he was more important because he was the firstborn.

But God sees things differently than people do! In fact, 1 Samuel 16:7 in your Trailbook says, “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” God saw Jacob’s heart, and He saw something special there. God can use anyone who is willing to trust Him and follow Him. That includes you and me, even if we don’t think we’re good enough. So God chose Jacob to carry out His plan. Let’s see what happened.

We saw in the video that Esau didn’t really care about the privileges that belonged to him as the firstborn. We don’t really know why, because the Bible doesn’t tell us. We just know he traded all the rights that were his as the firstborn to Jacob for some bread and stew. You’d have to be awfully hungry to think that was a fair trade!

Later, Esau changed his mind. Isaac was getting ready to give his firstborn son a special blessing, which means he was going to ask God to be with him and help him in everything he did. Esau wanted that blessing for himself. When he found out Jacob had tricked Isaac into giving him the blessing instead, Esau was mad. He was so mad that Jacob had to run away from home for his own safety.

Their mom, Rebekah, told Jacob to go to her brother’s house and live there until it was safe for him to come home. So this quiet guy who just liked being at home quickly grabbed a few things and set off on a trip to a place he knew nothing about. And even though he was going to his uncle’s house, he didn’t really know his uncle or his cousins. I’m sure he was afraid. I know I would have been!

But God was with Jacob. That night on the way to his uncle’s house, Jacob had a dream. He saw a stairway reaching from the earth up into heaven, with angels going up and down the stairway.

At the top of the stairway, he saw God. God spoke to him and promised...

  1. God was giving the land where Jacob was sleeping to him and his descendants (his kids, grandkids, and everyone who would be born into his family).

  2. God would give Jacob so many descendants you couldn’t count them, just like the dust on the earth.

  3. All the families of the earth would be blessed through Jacob and his descendants.

  4. God would be with Jacob and protect him wherever he went.

God kept every single one of those promises, but that didn’t mean Jacob always had an easy time. When he got to his Uncle Laban’s house, his uncle didn’t treat him very well. Laban made Jacob work really hard and tried to cheat him out of what he had earned. God kept His promise to protect Jacob and be with him, and He made everything Jacob did successful. But Laban still made life hard for him, so he finally decided to take his family and go back home.

He might not have realized it at the time, but that was all part of God’s plan to keep His promises.

  • Promise #1: God led Jacob and his family safely back to the same place where He had appeared to Jacob in his dream. Esau forgave Jacob and welcomed him back.

  • Promise #2: God gave Jacob a huge family with 12 sons. He even changed Jacob’s name to Israel, and his family became the nation of Israel, which is still a nation today.

  • Promise #4: God was with Jacob and made everything he did successful.

So what about the third promise?

God said all the families of the earth would be blessed through Jacob and his descendants. There was one specific descendant who made that promise come true. Jesus!

Jesus was born into Jacob’s family almost 2,000 years after God made this promise to Jacob! Jesus wasn’t just an ordinary person. He was a human, but He was also God, and he came to Earth for a very important purpose.

Romans 3:22 in your Trailbook says, “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”

The next verse tells us why we need to be made right with God. It says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” God is perfect, and in order for us to be right with God, we have to be perfect, too. That’s impossible for us! Even people who love God still sin, including Jacob. He lied to his dad and had times when he didn’t trust God. We’ve all done things that were wrong. That’s what sin is, and it destroys our relationship with God. But if it’s impossible for us to live up to God’s standard by being perfect, what can we do?

The great news is, Jesus did it for us! He is the only person who ever lived a perfect life, because He is also God. Even though He never did anything wrong, He took the punishment for all of our sin – everything we’ve ever done or ever will do wrong. He did that by giving up His life and dying on a cross. That’s why the next verse in Romans says, “Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” God did this for us even though He knew we could never pay Him back or make up for all the wrong things we’ve done. He didn’t give us the punishment our sins deserved. Jesus took that punishment instead. That’s what grace is.

But Jesus didn’t stay dead! God raised Him back to life three days later! Jesus beat death so that if we believe in Him and choose to love and follow Him, we can live forever in heaven with Him someday.

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