Today, because of the topic of the sermon at church this morning and because of the continued discussion of this same sermon in our small group tonight, I had a lot of time to reflect on the early life of Jacob and his deceitful spirit. The text I want to highlight this evening comes after Jacob, by the instruction of his mother, has tricked his father Issac into giving him the blessing over his brother Esau, and now Jacob is running to the land of his mother to save his own hide from the trickery he took part in. As you read this text, keep in the forefront of your mind that trickery which Jacob had willfully taken part in and hear how he takes his nature of trickery to the next level in even trying to control God and God's will in his life:
“Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it...Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, 'If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.'” Genesis 28:10-12, 18-22
Sneaky and deceitful people are such hard people to deal with in our lives. There is no way to trust anything these type of people do. And were you to put your guard down in dealing with someone of this sort, you are bound to be caught up in their tricks most unwillingly. But, in studying how God deals with people who have deceitful natures, like that of young Jacob here, I feel He provides for us a healthy way to view this particular type of person, and not only deal with them but also how to lead them to truth and a heart that yearns for a life that is wholly submitted to the will of God instead of any scheme they could possibly think of.
If you study the entire life of Jacob, you will come to understand through that study that Jacob is crushed time and time again in selected and perfected areas by God in order for Jacob to finally come to the conclusion that he is not in control of his life, but rather God alone controls all things and He is not a God that makes deals or gives into deceitful hearts or cunning trickery.
People who are of this world and do not put their hope in the Lord, are really only left with one alternative – to put their hope in their own ability to manipulate the future as it seems best for them and their own to live and survive. Being lost in this self-regulated state of darkness is nothing we can condemn them for. But also, we cannot just sympathize with them and in our pity for their state, give into the demands and willful behavior they exhibit out of fear to survive in the dark world in which they dwell. A light, just like the opened heavens that Jacob was given to see in his dream the night he laid his head down on that rock, is the most important first step in showing a person with a deceitful heart that what they are doing in trying to control other people and life situations is way bigger than anything they can manipulate on their own. That light does not come from within us, but instead it is a light we reflect upon those who encounter us and see the perfect light we reflect of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But reflecting Jesus' light into the lives of deceitful people is only the first of many steps necessary to bring them into the full light of Christ and to the point them to a place where they really want to stay in His glorious light instead of slinking back into the shadows as their skewed nature has trained them to do. God is in control of how all the next steps go as He is the only one who knows how to individually heal each broken heart and bind up all the internal heart wounds in which each need His perfect touch. This step on our part requires some distance, lots of prayer and forgiveness, and patience that is necessary to watch the work of God in this person's life with perfect patience and trust in the Lord and His plan for this man, woman, or child we yearn to see change.
Living and watching the lives of people around you take cunningly deceitful paths is wearing on the soul. I happen to know the drill well as I have watched my own parent's grieve the paths two of my adopted brothers who have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome have taken. They have been hurt extensively and have had to put up severe personal boundaries to keep themselves safe. They have endured by faith, survived these trails through their hope in Jesus and in prayer, they have forgiven incredible heartless offenses these two young men have inflicted upon them, and they continue to trust with patience in the Lord that some day these two men will see the perfect light of Christ through their best reflection of Him.
Jacob was a success story through the grace and mercy of God which was extended enough times by the Lord and those around him that his cunning the deceitful heart turned into an obedient and humble heart the Lord could finally bless. Not all hearts, which start out like Jacob's heart, turn around and let go of their control that keeps them in the shadows of human existence, but that doesn't mean we cannot keep trusting, praying, and seeking the Lord's will for each person's life who comes into ours and needs to be exposed by the light of Christ we have to offer them, along with His truth about the existence they have settled into within their wayward hearts.