If you’ve ever wanted to see how God can use anything he wants to bring about his purposes, you’ve come to the right place.
Jacob has fled his home because Esau was threatening to kill him for stealing Isaac’s blessing. He has met with God in the dream with the ladder and now he arrives at his grandfather Abraham’s hometown.
Like his father who went before him, Jacob finds the woman he wants to marry at a well. Her name is Rachel. Jacob asks his uncle Laban for Rachel’s hand in marriage. However, Rachel is not Laban’s firstborn - Leah is. But Jacob doesn’t want to marry Leah, he loves Rachel. So Laban and Jacob come to an agreement. Jacob will work for Laban 7 years in exchange for Rachel.
Thus begins a series of tricks and deceit between Jacob and Laban. Laban deceives Jacob into accidentally marrying Leah instead of Rachel, thereby tricking him into 7 more years of free service to marry both Leah and Rachel.
The Unlikely Origin of Israel’s 12 Tribes
This creates a rivalry between Leah and Rachel that results in them each trying to have children with Jacob, even to the point that they allow their servants to bear Jacob's children just to pad the stat sheets. However, through this outrageous rivalry, Jacob has 12 sons, which God would turn into the 12 tribes of Israel. Those 12 tribes are the first signs of God’s promise to make Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob into a great nation.
But the trickery is not over yet. An issue arises between Jacob and Laban over who should own the flock Jacob had been tending. Through a series of tricks between both Laban and Jacob, Jacob ends up with the bigger and healthier flock. But it is not Jacob’s tactics that made him rich, even if he thought that’s what was happening. It was God working in the midst of the mess to provide for Jacob, even in his sinfulness.
Finally, it’s time for Jacob, his family, and his many possessions to leave Laban’s household and make their way back to the land where God met him in the dream.
What are we to make of all this trickery and deceit? Why would the fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel come about through such morally dicey means? It is to show us something incredibly important about who God is and how he works. God keeps his promises. That’s who he is.
He promised that Abraham’s family would become a great nation, and here we have the beginnings of it. No matter what happens in the world or how messed up we make it, God will accomplish his plans. God constantly and specifically works through people who are unworthy. God subverts sin and evil by redeeming otherwise terrible situations. God repurposes evil intention. God shows mercy to people who don’t deserve it.
Where is Jesus?
This is fully seen in the cross of Jesus.
The Glorious Deceit
For there has never been a more dastardly trick played than the betrayal, arrest, false trail, and innocent murder of Jesus. But through these horrid acts, God accomplished everything he promised to Jacob. He became the final offspring of Jacob who blesses the world, despite all its sin and evil.
The cross shows us that no matter how wicked and dark things get, God brings about his good intentions. If he can bring the world’s greatest good out of the corrupt murder of his innocent son, he can bring good out of anything.
Moreover, the grandest and good trick ever played were the gospel events themselves. Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 2:8 that if people knew who Jesus was they would not have crucified him. Furthermore, if the evil spiritual forces knew what would happen by killing this man Jesus, they wouldn’t have gone through with it either. The trick of the gospel is the greatest reversal of all time. Evil thought it would beat Jesus by killing him, but it ended up being their own defeat.
See For Yourself
I pray that the Holy Spirit would help you see the God who can work through anything and work with anyone to show his grace and accomplish his plan. I pray you would see Jesus as the one who subverts and conquers sin by his cross by performing the ultimate trick against death itself by rising from the dead.