One thing is obvious from the earliest part of the Bible's account of God's activities: In the divine-human interaction, God works through the imperfect. To recognize the full force of this statement, understand that God does not merely work through human imperfections, but God can and has worked through people guilty of major moral failure.

Humans often reason that "God works through the best." Therefore, those who follow God can be deceived into trying to become/be "the best" in a human attempt to obligate God to accept them and to work through them. Certainly, those who belong to God seek to learn and to embrace God's higher level of morality declared through their behavior. They willingly accept God's moral views as the standards for their motives and their behavior.

However, those who follow God have no illusions about their personal dependence on God. It is God's grace that allows them to belong to God, not their own personal goodness. Following God is not an attempt to obligate God, but an acknowledgement of one's own unworthiness. The person who belongs to God can come boldly to God's throne confidently seeking God's grace (Hebrews 4:16) not because of his or her worthiness, but because of God's goodness. Those who belong to God seek to be a good example, but they do so to reflect God's true goodness, not their own pseudo goodness (Matthew 5:16).

One important realization Christians need to grasp is this: it always has been about God's greatness and His honorable Name, not about elevating the status of bad humans into incredible humans. In the context of each situation, consider these statements: Exodus 32:9-14; Numbers 14:13-19; Psalm 25:11; and Jeremiah 14:7, 21. God acts because of Who God is to reveal His honorable nature. Christians exist to declare Who God is (Acts 17:16-31; 1 Peter 2:9, 10).

Jacob was not God's ideal "poster boy." Jacob was a liar, a deceiver, and an untrustworthy schemer. Consider Genesis 27:9-29; 30:27-42; and 31:17-28. He often schemed deceptively to achieve his purposes. He lived up to his birth name in Genesis 25:21-26 -- the one who takes by the heel or surplants.

However, he suffered and endured many things because of his untrustworhy character. He endured the hatred of his twin brother; separation from his immediate family; being deceived by his father-in-law; being married to two wives who were jealous sisters; the rivalry of his sons; the horrible judgment of his sons; and deception by some sons concerning their declaration that the son he most loved died. Jacob's life was a life of distress and unpleasantness throughout most of his adult years.

Late in his adult life Jacob was introduced to the ruler of Egypt. The ruler of Egypt was impressed by Jacob's long life. When the ruler inquired how old Jacob was, Jacob responded with these words:
"The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant [literally, evil] have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning" (Genesis 47:9, NAS).

Jacob lived a long life, but not an enjoyable life.

God used Jacob to accomplish His purposes and fulfill His promises. Jacob was not the ideal follower of God nor a wonderful example of moral integrity. God achieved His purposes through Jacob because of who God is, not because Jacob was an incredible man of righteousness.

May God achieve His purposes through you with your full cooperation and devotion, not in spite of your weakness and poor character.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
"Snippets from David" Article, 22 August 2005

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