There is no more prolific example of the conflict between the natural and divine dispositions than illustrated in the life of Jacob. A brief summary of his character would include craftiness, cheating and conceit. Jacob was a man of incredible weakness. Even his name denotes his personality, for it means “supplanter.” Despite his shortcomings, he was a chosen vessel in the divine plan of God.
A study of Jacob’s life reveals a history of deception. His own love relationship with Rachel was spoiled by the deception of her father. As a result, Jacob suffered the results of polygamy, having two jealous wives and a manipulative father-in-law. His ten sons lied to him regarding their brother Joseph. The rest of his life was characterized by one domestic disappointment after another.
The mystery of Jacob’s life was that in the midst of his unhappiness and family struggles, the transforming power of his communion with God eventually brought him to a point of victorious faith. Throughout his life, God revealed himself to Jacob in many ways. Jacob resisted and fought with the angel of the Lord. However, his natural disposition was crucified, and his name changed from Jacob the “supplanter” to “Israel” or “prince of God.” Jacob is listed in Hebrews 11:21 as a man of faith. If Jacob the supplanter could have his natural viewpoint transformed by the power of God, there is certainly hope for all of us!