The Catholic Defender: Jacob and the Vision of Israel
I was reading in Genesis the story of Jacob and I was captivated by his life in this highly recognized biblical drama. From the very beginning, he was in competition with his brother Esau. Many today can relate to their rivalry being brothers. The customs then were vastly different than what we see today. Most would think nothing of a "birthright" today, but in the time of Jacob, this was huge. Esau was willing to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew. The biggest deception that played the most importance was Jacob obtaining Esau's "special blessing". Isaac was not able to recognize Esau as Jacob concealed himself so that his father thought he was Esau. How many Fathers give their children a "special blessing" today? How many children follow the faith of their fathers deserving of that blessing? Many times, it is a father's prayer for their children that they keep the Faith. Worse yet, how many father's even care what their children do? Does it matter that your children follow the Catholic Faith?
Many father's can understand what it means to be a "prodigal father", but many do not mind, in fact many are themselves prodigals? What does God the Father say about all this? We know in His Word, the Lord sees rebellion as like the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23). To worship false gods is like falling into harletry, adultery (Ezekiel 16:35-38). In the case of Jacob, God honored Isaac's blessing. "Let peoples serve you, and nations pay you homage; Be master of your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you" (Genesis 27:29). Jacob would serve his uncle Laban for 14 years for both his Daughters, Leah and Rachel. What a story this is. Jacob's love was for Rachel but the night of the wedding, Laban switches his Daughters so that Jacob marries Leah.
I could not imagine how Jacob would not recognize the switch, but that is what happens. So in the end, he married both of them. In the Old Testament, it was common for the men to have multiple wives. This was changed in the time of the Lord, and the Catholic Church has done much to liberate women.
It was highly unfortunate for Leah as she felt the frustration that Jacob favored Rachel. Maybe this is why God blessed Leah with a number of children. Rachel would end up having two Son's, Joseph and Benjamin. The story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his older brothers is one of the most important of all the Old Testament. No question that God was with Joseph as Joseph was true to God! God used the situation to bring about a great good in saving Jacob's family from a severe drought. This would eventually lead to the Israelites into bondage into Egypt and the coming of Moses, which would ultimately bring us Jesus in time. The Mass replacing the Passover sacrifice. Do you wonder what the meaning of Jacob's dream at Bethel was? The Old Testament is filled with "types" that give a foundation for the New Testament.
The Angels going up and down the stairs to heaven and earth. The Lord was standing next to Jacob telling him that He is the God of Abraham and Isaac! I see a prophecy about the Catholic Faith offered as God said:
"the land on which you are lying, I will give to you and your descendants. These shall be as plentiful as the dust of the earth, and through them you shall spread out east and west, north and south. In you and your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing" (Genesis 28:13-14). It wasn't until the beginning of the Catholic Church that this prophecy became a reality. The story of Jacob is very important laying the foundation of the Catholic Faith. Jacob wrestling with the Angel and receiving the name "Israel" is very important. It is important when God changes the name of a person as this indicates a Covenant. It is important to stress more on Jacob and his family coming to Egypt. Joseph was blessed by God, no matter what he did as a slave, God blessed him. When Potiphar's wife tried to seduce Joseph, he refused despite the fact that he would go to prison. God gave the gift of interpretation of dreams to Joseph and this helped save Egypt through this severe drought.
The Pharaoh made Joseph second in Command only behind the Pharaoh. This position of Joseph would become important in the time of King David, as he positioned a "chief steward" in his cabinet. This would be the one who held the "key" of authority in the household of David (Isaiah 22:22) which would lead to the Keys given to Simon Peter (Matthew 16:19).
Jesus has the authority to supersede the keys from the household of David to the "Chair of Peter". So the Old Testament is much more than simply stories of heroic figures. They point to a promise that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Still, when you read these stories such as Jacob, these were real people living in with real conditions. I can't help but think of Jacob's love for Rachel. If you think of Jacob as a "Mama's boy", that he was somehow the son who was weak, I put that thought away when I read about Jacobs first meeting with Rachel! The women were waiting for men to remove the stone so that they could water their sheep. When Rachel came with her father's flock, Jacob moved this rock by himself that took a number of men to do (Genesis 29:4:11)!
Rachel would die giving birth to Benjamin and was buried on the road to Ephrath which is modern day Bethlehem. This would be where the Messiah was born into the world, it was also the place that Herod killed the male children 2 years old and under fulfilling Jeremiah's prophecy (Jeremiah 31:15). The Church remembers the Holy Innocents on Dec 28th, honoring those who died brutally at the hands of King Herod. We see this again during the time of Moses (Exodus 1:22) showing that Moses was spared by God for his divine purpose. A prefiguration of Jesus Christ.
Song Written by Donald Hartley and arranged and performed by Nathan and Jason, two of my Sons: