By Fred Pruitt
I’ve been wanting to write you at length about this, but I haven’t been able to yet. So I just wanted to say this. I don’t mean any disrespect for your pastor, since he is only teaching what has been taught to him, but that sort of look at those stories, i.e., evaluating their behavior and making judgments about their behavior, finding them guilty of conniving, disobedience, lying, etc., is probably how they view everybody’s behavior, through the eyes of judgment. And the judgment is only based on appearances.
Let me ask you, where in scripture does God ever rebuke Jacob for sin? Jacob is under the covenant of Abraham, that is, the covenant of grace where we are righteous and sealed in our righteousness by faith, which is the covenant of the New Testament.
These people are looking at these characters through Old Testament eyes, and indeed, when they see these characters that way, then they can only be looking out into the world and toward all their brethren through these same Old Testament eyes. That is why there is so much judgment among Christians, because they have not really moved into the New Testament. The New Testament is, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies.” As long as we are in a habit of finding fault in others, we are not operating in the New Covenant.
See, the Old is about blessings and curses — you are blessed if you obey and you are cursed if you disobey.
But the New is about, “Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord does not impute iniquity!” I find no sin in Jacob. The Lord, in a couple of instances, removes from Jacob his self-reliance, especially in that last scene before he meets Esau the next morning, when he wrestles with the Angel all night long and two things happen: first, the Angel hobbled Jacob, so that he was partly crippled. And second, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, “for as a prince thou hast power with God and man, and hast prevailed.” (Gen 32:24-28).
God’s pronouncement upon Jacob is that he is now prince with God. He has and walks in God’s favor. Now this has always been the case with Jacob. But he hasn’t known it as fully until this incident, when God cripples him, thus destroying his self-reliance, because now he couldn’t even run from Esau when he saw him coming with the 400 men, and Jacob would have to meet Esau with only himself and trust in God.
And Esau’s heart, which had been set on murder, melted at the sight of his brother, and instead Esau embraced his brother and wept on Jacob’s shoulder.
I find no sin in Jacob not going up to Seir. The scripture gives us no explanation of this seeming “change” of plan. But also no one rebukes Jacob for his sin, either. One cannot say that the problems at Shechem with Dinah and Hamor are Jacob’s “punishment” for lying. One simply does not follow the other.
Consider Job, who fell into the worst suffering imaginable, and his three friends, who had Old Testament eyes, came over to supposedly comfort Job, and spent the whole time trying to convince Job that he had sinned, and that was why he had come to this calamity. But Job wouldn’t budge, and does not even God at the very beginning of the book pronounce Job “a perfect and upright man.” And at the same time He (God) is goading Satan to sift Job. Job’s calamity did not come because of his sin, but in a sense because of his righteousness, which was his in covenant with the Lord. It was all for Job’s greater seeing at the end of the book, that all this happened to Job.
It is the same with the Genesis stories. I would be very careful of attaching “sin” to people the scripture does not attach it. Jacob is a type of Christ in us walking in the Spirit through life.
If you haven’t done it, I would recommend you reading and listening to my article, Voice of Jacob/Hands of Esau, and the talk that covers more territory than the article. This is how I read the Old Testament. It is looking with New Testament eyes, in which we see what God is doing, not merely the human lives, but what God is meaning in these human lives, what He is showing us. It is much greater than merely morals and ethics, which is the OT way of looking at things. All centered on behavior and curses and blessings, “If” you do this or do that. The New Testament takes the “IF” out, when you see what God has accomplished.
Here are the links to the talk and article:
Written Article: Voice of Jacob – Hands of Esau.