Jacob is the first of the Patriarchs who does not make a positive entrance on to the stage. He is deceitful, just as his name indicates. In this narrative we encounter the family dynamic at work in Isaac and Rebekah’s lives. We will use Jacob as a backdrop or case study – and we will focus on the New Testament passage that offers powerful insight on the topic of transformation. Paul addresses both the discovery of the will of God as well as the process of change in a believer’s life. Jacob was – like us – a work in progress. As his story unfolds, he is transformed into a deeply spiritual man who plays a pivotal role in the grand purpose of God.
Romans has the reputation—well deserved—of being one of the most theological books in the Bible. Unfortunately, this reputation has led many Christians and even some commentators to wonder why Paul bothers with all the practical stuff at the end of the letter. He has finished the theology section at the end of chapter 11. Why say any more?
Such an attitude betrays a basic misunderstanding of theology and its significance. All theology is practical, and all practice, if it is truly Christian, is theological. Paul’s gospel is deeply theological, but it is also eminently practical. The good news of Jesus Christ is intended to transform a person’s life. Until individual Christians own and live out the theology, the gospel has not accomplished its purpose.
-Douglas J. Moo, The NIV Application Commentary: Romans, Zondervan, 2000, p. 393
This story has gotten more interesting and more complex! Jacob’s family system is dysfunctional as he tries to manage his wives and concubines. And – the rivalry that existed in his own upbringing has now surfaced in the lives of his children and Joseph is sold off in slavery as a result. Again, the plans and purposes of God are in the fragile hands of real human beings who are capable of some troubling actions. However, God is still at work. He can redeem our mistakes and transform us in the process. We will continue to read how God works through circumstances and people in spite of the brokenness we exhibit.
ISSUES/QUESTIONS TO ADDRESS