Choosing Jacob

God could have built one people from Isaac making of both sons one holy nation. But it was His purpose to make a distinction between the two men. Esau sold his birthright. Jacob sought a birthright he did not possess.

Why did God choose Jacob? The Bible does not say, it only states that He chose him to make a people of him. Jacob desired a blessing to which he was not naturally entitled. The Bible does not say that God placed that desire in Jacob’s heart, nor caused him to seek the face of God. In fact, Jacob’s desire was motivated by sin, and empowered by sin – deception and supplanting of the natural heir.

Esau, on the other hand, was unfaithful and ungrateful, despising his birthright for the immediate satisfaction of his natural desires. While Esau did not appear to commit the egregious sins of his brother Jacob, he did not appreciate the blessing that was his by birth, and was willing to abandon his future for the immediate relief of a temporal discomfort.

God worked in Jacob’s life by calling and revealing Himself to Jacob,[1] who immediately acknowledged Him as God. God then challenged Jacob to admit who he was – a duplicitous cheat.[2] When Jacob acknowledged the living and true God, and admitted himself to be what he truly was, God gave him a new name and blessed him.[3] Despite Jacob’s sin, he sought to know the true God and receive His blessing, and God rewarded his faith in the midst of his sin[4], by changing him from a lying scoundrel to a Prince of God.

In the same way God has chosen to build a people to Himself from among the rebellious and self-willed community of man. As God did with Jacob, He reveals Himself to humanity, calling and challenging us to recognize and admit who we are: individuals who seek our own desires, even at the expense of others. We strive, and deceive, and manipulate to get what we want, but among us are those who seek to know God, and to receive His blessing. Like Isaac’s son Esau, some of us despise our birthright as God’s highest creation, and our calling to enter into His presence, preferring the immediate satisfaction of temporal urges that seem to be more important that something we will only fully achieve ‘down the road’ in time[5]. As Esau was unfaithful, not trusting God to provide for his needs, nor preferring God above fleshly impulses, so also are many men.

But others, like Jacob, despite living lives of sin, desire what is better, what is Perfect, Pure, and Lovely. Like Jacob, we long to know the Great Creator and Sustainer of all that is, and live inside of His favour; we desire something better than only that earthly benefit which never satisfies the soul. And as He did to Jacob, God comes to those who seek Him.[6] God reveals Himself to those who seek Him, convicting us of our wickedness,[7] and calling us to turn from sin and ourselves as lord, to Him and Christ as Lord and God over us. When we acknowledge God as God,[8] and draw near to Him in faith, trusting Him and His covering for our wickedness, God ‘marks’ us, or seals us with His Holy Spirit,[9] changing us from rebellious scoundrels to holy ones of God.

In election, Jacob is a type of the members of Christ – by nature, selfish, sinful, and separate from God, but upon submission in faith to the self-revelation of God, convicted, washed, and rewarded God’s blessing; delivered from the earthly pre-occupation to a heavenly occupation prepared by God for those who love and follow Him.

Jacob also is a type of Christ in the fatherhood of the nation of God. As the earthly nation Israel was the ‘peculiar people’ to God, born to the earthly father Jacob,   the church is a spiritual people generated by Christ; Christians are not ‘of men’ as Israel was, but we are the spiritual offspring of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God chose Jacob, but He did not appoint each individual member of Jacob’s offspring. The people “of Israel” were those born of Jacob. The people of Christ, God’s chosen Redeemer, are those born in Christ.

Inclusion in the covenant given to Jacob was dependant upon faithful adherence to God’s terms. Jacob was chosen and called; his offspring were offered a choice. All are not Israel who are of Israel, but only those who received that promise by faith[10]. (Romans 9:5-7)

Whereas participation in the covenant to Israel was limited to the children of Jacob who lived by faith in the living God, the covenant in Christ is limited to all who live by faith in the living God. As Jacob was appointed father of an earthly nation set apart to the LORD, God appointed Jesus Christ as head of His church, the members of which are set apart to the LORD by the Spirit of God, through faith in the blood of Christ shed for our sins, and the resurrection of the First-Born to everlasting life. The members of His church are all those who through faith in Christ become born again of the Spirit of God.

As God’s holy people Israel were those born of Jacob who faithfully followed the living God, God’s appointment of the church is that of a people in Christ, a people born of the Spirit based upon their faith in Christ.



[1] Genesis 28:10-22

[2] Genesis 32:27

[3] Genesis 32

[4] Hebrews 11:6S

[5] Gen 25:32; Heb 12:16; Heb 11:6

[6] Proverbs 8:17; Jeremiah 29:13;    cf Deu 4:29; 2 Chronicles 22:19; 2 Chronicles 111:16; 14:4; 19:3; 30:19; Ezra 6:21; Ps 69:32; 70:4l ; Matthew 6:33;

[7] John 16:7-8

[8] Romans 1; James 4:8; Hebrews 10:22

[9] Ephesians 1:13

[10] Romans 4:13, 16; Galatians 3:14, 22;