We need real encouragement for the long endurance walk of faith. We need the stories of Old and New Testament witnesses who have walked with God, cried out to God, and even wrestled with God.
We need the story of Jacob.
Jacob was the son of Isaac—the son of Abraham. All three are mentioned in the Faith Hall of Fame of Hebrews 11, and all three were the founders of the Hebrew faith and community. But it wasn’t always so straightforward for Jacob.
Jacob and his twin brother, Esau, had a sibling rivalry for the ages. Their rivalry lasted decades and spanned countries in pursuit of one another.
By all worldly accounts, Esau was the chosen son. He was the firstborn, the rightful heir, the strong protector, and provider for the family. And Jacob was his scrawny, shifty, jealous younger (by half a minute) brother.
Early in adult life, Esau had been out hunting for days while Jacob remained home cooking, and Esau came in hungry. Not just hungry though—famished, starving. And Jacob, whose name means “deceiver,” saw an opportunity. Esau begged Jacob for food, and Jacob said, “First, sell me your birthright” (Genesis 25:31). Esau quickly pledged it to him and began to eat. And in a culture of binding contracts, Jacob seized the place of firstborn and heir in the family.
Later in life, when Isaac was on his deathbed, the old patriarch sent out Esau to hunt and prepare one last great meal for him. While Esau was away, Jacob worked with his mother to trick Isaac. Jacob dressed up as Esau and took advantage of his father’s advanced age and poor vision. Jacob stole the blessing that Isaac intended for Esau (Genesis 27). Once again, Jacob snuck away with the upper hand—much to Esau’s unrelenting anger.
Fearing Esau’s wrath and strength, Jacob fled. And that’s when he realized his mistake. He couldn’t return home. He couldn’t enjoy his birthright. He was a fugitive, alone and on the run. Jacob would spend years looking over his shoulder, scanning the hills, forever fearful that Esau might appear with a band of warriors to take his life.
His life became one of desperation and fear.
Perhaps you can identify with this fear. You’ve made a mess of your life. You’ve left behind those who could help you. And now there’s no turning back. You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.
But before you quit, before you run away, you need to look to the crowd. See the witness of Jacob and keep fighting!