Ever read the story of Jacob in the Bible? Jacob is Isaac's son and Abraham's grandson. Jacob and his brother Esau were fraternal twins. In Hebrew, Jacob (יַעֲקֹ֑ב) means "grasps at the heel," which is intriguing because the only previous biblical reference to "heel" comes in Genesis 3:15. The setting is the Garden of Eden. The context is the man and woman having just chosen to rebel against God by seizing and eating the forbidden fruit. Then the Lord God simultaneously declared inevitable defeat for the vile serpent and its offspring and a merciful promise of glorious victory for humanity through one of Eve's male offspring: "And I will put enmity between you (serpent) and the woman, and between your seed (offspring) and her seed. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
We read in Genesis 25:24-26, that just after the twins' birth, Jacob "came out grasping Esau's heel with his hand," identifying him as an offspring of the usurping serpent of Eden. As chapter 25 continues, we read, "When the boys grew up... Esau (expert hunter) came in from the field exhausted. He said to Jacob, 'Let me eat some of that red stuff.'... Jacob replied, 'First sell me your birthright... swear to me!'... so Esau despised his birthright."
Jacob was crafty, just like the serpent in Eden. We don't know if Jacob's plan was premeditated or if he merely "seized" the opportunity when it presented itself. What we do know is that Jacob wasn't acting out of love or compassion for his brother Esau. Jacob's selfish actions bring to mind Peter's words from 1 Peter 5:8, "...Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
After the "heel" (Jacob) seized the opportunity to snatch Esau's birthright, he later (Genesis 27) formulated an elaborate deception with his mother (Rebekah) to dupe his aging and blind father (Isaac) into stealing Easu's blessing too. After it was done and Esau realized what had happened, he declared, "Isn't he rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me twice now. He snatched my birthright, and look, now he has seized my blessing..." And Esau wept loudly.
Jacob subsequently ran for his life (Gen 28) and "went to the eastern country" (Gen 29). After meeting his cousin Rachel, Jacob began working for his uncle, Laban. Jacob loved Rachel and pledged to work for Laban for seven years to pay her bride-price. Laban threw a banquet feast and "took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob." Then in Gen 29:23, we read, "...and Jacob invaded her."
"When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, 'What is this you have done to me? Wasn't it for Rachel I worked for you? Why have you deceived me?" Jacob, the seizing, snatching, usurping, manipulating scoundrel is deceived by Laban!
After marrying Leah, Jacob worked another seven years and finally married Rachel. In Genesis 31 we read that Jacob eventually separated from his uncle and prepared to return home and face Esau. But in Genesis 32, between his departure and return, something interesting happened. In 29:24 we read that Jacob wrestled with some strange man "until the ascension of the dawn." At the end of their bout, the "man" changes Jacob's name to Israel, saying, "for you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." Jacob knew this was no mere mortal, saying, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared."
Scripture reveals Abraham as a shadow (foreshadowing) of our Heavenly Father. It reveals Isaac as a shadow of The Son of God, Jesus. Genesis 24 reveals Abraham's servant as a shadow of the Holy Spirit, and Rebekah (the beautiful, virgin servant girl who drew water for all the servant's camels 24:20) as a shadow of the Bride of Christ, the Church.
Jacob is a shadow of fallen humanity. We come into this world seizing, snatching, grasping, clutching, plotting, planning, manipulating, and deceiving to carve out our own pathetic little kingdoms. But there is a better deceiver, a better manipulator and thief... a craftier snake in the grass. Laban is a shadow of Satan. He gets us drunk on the wine of the world and slips another into our marriage bed. Before we know it, we've invaded her, and are stuck working for him again.
In Luke 1:78 we read, "Because of our God's merciful compassion, the dawn from on high will visit us to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into The Way of peace."
The only solution is willful and intentional separation. The only recourse between our turning from Satan and returning home is to wrestle with God "until the ascension of the dawn," and overcome - not by our own flawed and finite power - but through the blood of Christ, the Son of God sacrificed by the Heavenly Father.
Revelation 21:7-8 reveals, "The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be my son. But the cowards, faithless, detestable, murderers, sexually immoral, manipulators, idolaters, and all liars - their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."
We can choose to remain imprisoned in the darkness and shadow of death in Satan's household, or we can choose to break away and run home. On the way, we have to grapple with the reality of who Christ Jesus truly is "until the ascension of the dawn," until we prevail by grace through faith and knowing Jesus is The Christ. He is The Lamb of God, indeed The Heavenly Father's Son sacrificed to guide our feet into The Way of Peace.
Grace and Peace,