Jacob, Sent by the Son

Genesis 28-35
John 16.4-15

Although God is one, He has chosen to deal with us as three distinct identities, God the Father, God the Son (Messiah) and God the Holy Spirit. Speculating on how and why a single being could and would do this has filled volumes and is beyond what we're doing here, which is to explore the role and actions of God the Holy Spirit.

To help us understand Himself, God presents each of the three Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in roles corresponding to the identities He projects. So, if we study Jacob from the time that he is sent out by Isaac until he returns to the land with his wives and children, we should gain insight into what the Spirit is doing in the world today.

The pattern starts in Genesis 28.2 where Isaac, Abraham's son, sends Jacob out of the land to get a bride. Upon his return twenty years later, Jacob will remember his departure saying, "with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps." (Gen 32.10) This is very strange. Remember that Abraham sent a whole caravan laden with gold and fine gifts to get a bride for Isaac at Haran. Isaac also was a very wealthy man, and he had given Jacob his blessing twice - once unknowingly and once on purpose. So why was Jacob sent out with only a staff?

The story continues, "Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran." (Gen 28.10) The names here are very significant. Beersheba means 'Well of the Oath' and Haran means 'Very Dry'. So the son (Isaac) sends Jacob from a place of water toward a dry place in order to get a bride. As we have discussed in another article, The Principle of the Seed, water represents blessing. So Jacob is being sent from a place of abundant blessing to a place without.

After his encounter with God at Bethel, Jacob traveled to a place outside of Haran where he found three flocks of sheep gathered around a stopped up well. The idea of a stopped up well certainly makes sense in the context of our metaphor, but what about the three flocks? In Scripture, flocks or sheep can represent wealth or they can represent people. Considering who Jacob represents, the flocks in this case can only represent people. When we remember that all of humanity descends from three brothers, the sons of Noah, then three flocks also makes sense.

So Jacob (Holy Spirit) is sent out from a place of abundant water by Isaac (the Son) and finds humanity gathered around a plugged well. Interestingly, it is the shepherds themselves who have plugged the well. Shepherds are supposed to care for and guard the flock - and I'm sure these shepherds did just that - but the heavy rock over the well puts them in a position to ration the flow of water (blessing) to their flocks. Again, this makes sense in terms of the metaphor. Y'shua addressed the same problem, "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in." (Matt 23.13) (As a side note, in addition to being a real rock, the stone over the mouth of the well represents a heart of stone. It is our stony hearts that allow God's blessings to be sealed away from our access and use.)

Continuing the story, as Jacob was talking with the shepherds, Rachel arrived with her father's flock. (Although Scripture doesn't say so at this point in the story, I believe that Jacob knew at once that Rachel was the one he was seeking. In the same way Abraham's servant knew at once that Rachel's aunt, Rebecca, was the bride he was seeking.) Jacob responded to the woman who would be his bride by opening the well to water her flock. It is significant the Jacob was able by himself to remove a stone that required the combined strength of three shepherds. The Spirit is God's power manifestation. Y'shua did his miracles by the power of the Spirit (Luke 4.14) and we are invested with the same power. (Acts 1.8, Eph 3.16)

During his stay with Laban, Jacob married his beloved Rachel and also acquired three other wives. This carries through the pattern of three plus one that was started with the shepherds at the well.

While he is with Laban, Jacob also unstopped the well of blessing for Laban; so much so that he was unwilling to let Jacob depart. Reading the account of Jacob's relationship with his father in law, we see that Laban is not a particularly righteous man yet his wealth continually increased because of Jacob. One can easily speculate that had Laban treated Jacob more fairly, the blessings and their fruits would not have diminished. That was not to be however. When Jacob announced his desire to build up his own house, Laban reacted just as would the three shepherds who placed a stone over the well to prevent anyone from getting more than his fair share. Laban assumed that blessing was a scarce resource (it is not) and that anything gotten by Jacob would be at his expense. Scripture teaches that the way to increase a blessing is to pass it on rather than trying to hoard it - see for example the parable of the rich man and his barns in Luke 12.16.

Anyway, after overcoming difficulties with Laban, an angel and Esau, Jacob returned to the Land with four wives, twelve children (eleven sons plus Dinah), a great many servants and very great wealth. In his humanity, Jacob stopped short of Bethel where he had promised to sacrifice upon his return. It is only after the unfortunate incident with Shechem and Dinah that he got moving again. Before setting out Jacob required everyone in his party to get rid of their pagan gods, bathe and change their clothes.(Gen 35.2) Once that was done Jacob took his entire party to Bethel - the house of God.

So we see here in broad outline how God teaches us about Himself in the life of the third of the Patriarchs. Studying the details glossed over in this brief note will expand the metaphor and give insight into the work of the Spirit today. He is pouring out blessing and acquiring brides to be taken back to the house of God.