Sermon: Lessons from Jacon the Grabber and Esau the Fool


The two boys in our story today came from a godly home, but a dysfunctional home nonetheless.  It may seem strange that a godly home could be dysfunctional but Jacob and Esau had the deck stacked against them by their own parents.  Isaac favored Esau, his rugged outdoorsman, while Rebekah preferred gentle Jacob, and neither hesitated to let their feelings show. [Image Credit: Govert Flinck, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. A sermon preached by Dr. Arnold Lastinger. Used with permission.]

The boys grew up pitted against each other. Though twins, Esau had been born first with Jacob’s hand grabbing his heel.  The name “Jacob” means “grabber” and it aptly described his character. Early on, he conned Esau out of his birthright as the firstborn son. At Rachel’s suggestion, he deceived his dying father and stole Esau’s blessing as well.  Fled for his life to his mother’s brother’s home. 

Got a dose of his own deceitful medicine from Laban when he gave him Leah as his wife.  Later married sister Rachel. Worked for 20 years for Laban. Had a run-in with Laban and fled for his life.

The more he tried, the worse things got. With no place else to go and his life in shambles, he decided to return home and try to rectify the situation he had left behind. Sent out several peace delegations to Esau. Sent everyone else on ahead to meet Esau.

Left alone, an angel of God (God himself) came.  Jacob latched onto him with a grip of desperation. “I will not let you go until you bless me!”  God touched him and changed his life!

Read Genesis 33:1-20

1. Jacob was a Man on the Run

A. He was running from God

I. He had lied and manipulated others all his life. Above all, he lived with a birthright not rightfully his.

II. Even implicated God by claiming that God had given him the venison quickly.

III. Sin has a way of finding us out and it found its way to Jacob, (Proverbs 13:15)

B. He was running From Esau

I. He stole Esau’s birthright. He stole Esau’s deathbed blessing. He was a thief who robbed his own people.

II. In return, Esau had sworn revenge, (kill him). The lingering fear was a part of Jacob’s day to day life.

III. He knew he was guilty. It did not matter how far he went or how fast he went. Guilt followed him everywhere.

C. He was running from Himself

I. His conscience followed him everywhere. His own sense of justice condemned him.

II. Tried to bury his conscience with wealth, to no avail. Wealth probably made him feel worse.

III. The world is full of “Jacobs”: People on the run. (Some of them are even here today.)

2. One Day Jacob decided to Change

I. This is the starting point for everyone.  (See Luke 15:28 the prodigal said, “…I will arise and go…”) If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you have always gotten.

II. Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results the next time. Notice the sequence: (A) He gave his offerings, but to no avail. (B) He gave his loved ones but to no avail. (C) Ready to give his life, but to no avail.

III. Esau wanted only his love and friendship. Likewise, God doesn’t want your money, family, life; He wants you to love Him!

3. Satan tried stopping Jacob

A. Satan stops us from doing the right thing by injecting uncertainty and fear into our hearts.

C. He was afraid of Esau’s retribution. Afraid that Esau would not forgive him. Afraid that he would get what he deserved.

D. Satan doesn’t want peace and love among people, nor between us and God.

4. Jacob got alone with God

A. Desperation: Jacob used many avenues only to realize there’s no other recourse but God.

B. Determination: He refused to let go. He held on to God until God changed his life for good.

C. Transformation: God blessed Jacob with a new name, new life, and an entire nation.


How many of you here are running from God today? Stop running and return to Him. He will give you peace. (I have one other sermon on Jacob. You can read it here.)

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