Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The book of Genesis contains the biographies of nine great persons: Adam, Abel, Enosh, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The longest record is that of Jacob's life, occupying nearly half of the book of Genesis. Why does the book of Genesis devote so many pages to this person? If you read Genesis carefully, you will see that Jacob's record, unlike Abraham's, includes many details. Enoch's biography is less than half a chapter in length, and the biography of Enosh occupies only a few verses. Although Noah was an important person, Genesis does not give him very many pages. The reason Jacob's record is so long is that in the experience of life nothing takes as long a time as transformation does. We were called in an instant, saved in a moment, and forgiven and regenerated in less than a minute. Transformation, however, requires our whole lifetime. Since the day we were saved, we have been undergoing the process of transformation.
In Abraham we see God's calling and justification. In Isaac we see a person who was always enjoying God's grace. It seems that Isaac did not want to know anything, nor exercise anything of himself. When Jacob deceived him, he knew that something was wrong, for he said, "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau" (27:22). If I had been Isaac, I would have studied the matter for a long time before blessing anyone. Isaac doubted whether it was Esau. While Isaac knew the voices of his sons and distinctly heard Jacob's voice, "he discerned him not" (27:23). This means that Isaac did not like to exercise his discernment. He was not lazy in eating, but he was idle in exercising his discernment. Not much space in the book of Genesis is devoted to the aspect of Isaac.
In Jacob we do not see God's calling or justification; neither do we see the enjoyment of grace. Rather, we see how he was dealt with by God (25:1932:21). Even when Jacob was in his mother's womb, God dealt with him. Throughout his life he was constantly under God's dealing. God's dealing was for his transformation. Jacob was born a supplanter, a heel holder. God's intention, however, was to have a prince of God. How could such a supplanter become a prince of God? Only by transformation. It is easy to change a material building, but it is difficult to change a supplanter into a prince of God. This cannot be done overnight; it takes a lifetime. Because Jacob represents the aspect of transformation, he has such a long biography.
In 25:19-34; 27:1-46; and 28:1-5, we see four persons Jacob, Esau, Isaac, and Rebekaheach of whom is distinct from the others. Although Jacob and Esau were twins, they were absolutely different from one another. "Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents" (25:27, Heb.). Jacob was quiet, subtle, and crafty, and Esau was wild, rude, and physically strong. As Jacob and Esau were fighting in their mother's womb, Esau won because of his strength. While Jacob was struggling to get out first, Esau seemed to say, "What are you doing? Let me go first." Jacob was crafty in the mind, and Esau was strong in the body. When Esau learned that Jacob had cheated him, he threatened to kill him. Esau seemed to be saying, "Jacob, you have supplanted me. My mind cannot defeat your mind, but one day I will kill you." In this we see that Jacob and Esau were absolutely different.
Isaac and Rebekah were also different from one another. Rebekah was clever, ingenious, skillful, and capable of manipulating the whole family. She both developed Jacob's craftiness and directed her husband. Isaac was fully under Rebekah's manipulation. As a result of her manipulation, both Esau and Isaac were supplanted. They were not only supplanted by Jacob but also by Rebekah. When Isaac sent Jacob away, he might have thought that he initiated it. Actually, this was initiated by Rebekah. After she had spoken a few words to Isaac, he sent Jacob away to Laban (28:1-5). Rebekah manipulated Isaac in this matter.
Isaac, Rebekah, and Esau worked together for Jacob's good. God used the three of them to transform Jacob. In this we see that all things work together for the good of those who are called by God (Rom. 8:28). Later we shall see that Laban as well as Jacob's wives, maids, sons, and daughter were used by God to transform him. Every circumstance, situation, and person found in the record of Jacob's life was used to transform this supplanter into a prince of God.
We cannot find a story telling us as much about transformation as the story of Jacob does. Jacob had been chosen and predestinated. God's purpose with this chosen one was to transform him into a prince of God. God does not like to transform good, simple, straight, honest, high-level people. He prefers to transform supplanters like Jacob. What kind of person are you? Are you good, straight, and honest, or are you a Jacob? We all, including the sisters, are Jacobs. Have you not supplanted others? Sisters, you have probably supplanted your mother, husband, and children. Some fathers-in-law have supplanted their sons-in-law, and some uncles have supplanted their nephews. Do not think that you are so good. I do not consider myself to be good like Abraham or Isaac. No, I think of myself as a Jacob. Knowing that we are Jacobs should be an encouragement to us. Do not say, "Oh, I'm so bad and low. I'm not a high-level person." If you are like this, praise the Lord. You are the right person to know God's mercy and grace.
God has not chosen the good people. If we had made the choice, probably all of us would have chosen Esau instead of Jacob. Comparatively speaking, Esau was better than Jacob. He never cheated or supplanted anyone. But God did not choose Esau; He chose Jacob. Everyone who has been chosen by God is a naughty one. If you are good, then you must not be chosen by God. While Abraham is the example of justification by faith, Jacob is the example of being chosen. Have you been chosen? Then you must be a Jacob, because God only chooses Jacobs. God is God, and we must worship Him as God. He has sovereignly chosen Jacob, the one who was such a supplanter.
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