A portion of the painting, Jacob meeting Esau, but Francesco Hayez (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
I absolutely love the peoplewe read about in the Bible.Ilove the factthat they are imperfect and often they make the wrong choices.One of the things that bring me the most confidence in the Bible and in the G-D of the Bibleis the imperfectionof the peopleI read about within its pages. If Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Samson, Peter and Paul wereperfectpeople that jumped from spiritualmountaintop to spiritualmountaintop, I would have difficulty believing in the Bible. Beyond that, I would find myself in a hopeless place comparingmyfailuresand imperfections with a line of perfectpeople.Further, the imperfections, shown in the lives and experiences of the heroes of myfaithonlydemonstrate the might, grace, and mercy of myperfect G-D.
One of my favorite people in the Bibleis Jacob. Jacob isthe Peter of the Torah.Let me explainPeterwas a man who often first tried to accomplishthings by his own power and ability. For instance, when Yeshua(Jesus) was being arrested, Peterpulledhis sword and cut off the ear of a servant of the High Priest, only to haveYeshuaheal the man’s ear.Peter wrestled often between his faith in himself and his faith in G-D.
Like Peter we findJacobhaving similar faith battles. One example of this is Jacob deceiving his father in stealingEsau’s blessing.Jacob was tryingto bring about a prophecy through his own abilities.
Another even clearer example is found in Genesis 32 when Jacob is returning home from his time in Laban’s house. He sentmessengers ahead to meet with Esau and to measureEsau’s angertowards him. The messengersreturnwith word that Esauis on his way with 400 men. Jacob’s responsesare found in Genesis 32:8 and 10.
8 So Jacob became extremely afraid and distressed. Hedivided the people with him, along with the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps,
10 Then Jacob said, “O God of myfatherAbraham, andGod of myfather Isaac, Adonai, who said to me, ‘Return to your land and to your relatives and I will do good with you.’
Within these two responses to Jacob’s situation, we see the battle between the flesh and the Spirit. What in Judaism is referred to as the YetzerHara(evilinclination) and Yetzer HaTov (good inclination)?Jacob is toldthat Esauis on his way to meet him with 400 men.Jacob‘s firstresponsefound in verse 8 is the same response too many of us jump to when confronted with what appears to be a difficult situation.Jacobthinks in the physicalrealm and divides his people and things into two groups. Thinking if one gets killed maybe the other will survive which was a good tactic in the physicalrealm. By verse10 Jacob has begunto step out of the physicalrealm and into the Spiritualrealm. Instead of thinking “what am I going todo?“ Jacobgoes toG-D and remindsG-Dof His promises. Jacob changes from “what am I going todo?“to “Father, what are you goingto do?”.
This shift from the earthy to the heavenly, from the flesh to the Spirit, demonstrates a greatexample to all of us of how we should respond to any and all situations. Not just good-vs-bad. But every decisionwemakeconcerning the directionwe will goor the actionswe will takeshould be madeonly once we have shifted into the Spiritual realm. Once wehave acknowledged that His ways are higher than our ways. Or as Romans12:1-3says:
1 I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice—holy, acceptable to God—whichis your spiritual service.2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the willof God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.3 For through the grace given me, I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think—but to use sound judgment, as Godhas assigned to each person a measure of faith.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, God Has No Plan "B", and his most recent book Galatians in Context.