This past week I was rebuilding part of the website for Anchor Movement and looking at ways to continue bringing quality content to our readers when my past suddenly flashed before my eyes. I sat there in silence reliving some of the worst mistakes that I had made over the last 33 years of my life and then there was a single comment that broke the silence, “You aren’t qualified to tell others about Jesus.” At that moment, a feeling of shame and overwhelming grief covered me like a cold wet blanket. I couldn’t shake it. I thought about giving up. The voice was right. I’m not qualified. I have made some huge mistakes in my life and I ran from GOD for a long time. I drank more alcohol than I care to remember. I partied at places that are unmentionable. On top of all that I don’t have the education to share the gospel. No seminary degree. No doctorate in Greek or Hebrew. No learned skill set in the hermeneutical, philosophical, or theological interpretation of the Bible. The voice was right. I am not at all qualified. As I sat there mediating and sulking over my past a story came to my mind. It was about another man who made some huge mistakes in his life, but GOD chose to use him anyway. This man was chosen by GOD before he was ever born to establish the nation in which GOD’s people would come from and ultimately the Messiah. He was a liar, a cheat, lacking in character, and mischievous, but GOD chose him anyway and used his unique skill set to continue the Blessing of GOD and to establish the twelve tribes of Israel. This man was Jacob and he wasn’t qualified either.
If you read the story of Jacob, many church people believe that Jacob stole the blessing from his brother Esau. In my Bible, the title heading for chapter 27 says, “Jacob’s stolen blessing.” Now keep in mind, that title was not put there by GOD, but by the people who interpreted the scriptures into various languages and organized the Bible so we can accurately find scriptures today. What that title should say is, “Jacob given the Blessing.” If you turn back a few pages in Genesis to the birth of Jacob and Esau, you’ll see what I mean. In Genesis 25, Rebekah is pregnant and in her womb the two babies are wrestling with each other. As a concerned mother, Rebekah goes to The Lord and ask what is going on. His response is key to understanding the rest of Jacob’s life:
“And the Lord told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.” And when the time came to give birth, Rebekah discovered that she did indeed have twins! The first one was very red at birth and covered with thick hair like a fur coat. So they named him Esau. Then the other twin was born with his hand grasping Esau’s heel. So they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when the twins were born.” Genesis 25:23-26 NLT
Did you catch that? The older son will serve the younger son. Who was older? Esau. Who was younger? Jacob. Jacob was the son GOD chose to be the next in line for the Blessing not Esau. God chose Jacob before either child was ever born. During that time period, the older son was always the son of the family blessing. That usually meant his inheritance was double that of any of the other siblings, but in this case, GOD chose the youngest son, the second born, the least likely, to be the continuation of GOD’s great plan. His parents even named him Jacob which means: supplanter, schemer, and treachery. Wow! Talk about a promising start, but how many of us know that GOD is not concerned with what people say, but only what He says. For most of Jacob’s early life he lived up to what his parents had originally called him by blackmailing his brother for his birthright and “stealing” the blessing Isaac meant to give Esau. Jacob defined himself by what others called him and let his actions mirror those expectations, but GOD used these past experience to put Jacob on the road to becoming the father of the twelve original tribes of Israel. Jacob ran from his brother and family and fled to another land to a farm owned by his uncle Laban. There he married Laban’s two daughters and they had children. When it came time for Jacob to leave his uncle Laban and travel back to his home country, he was still the same man as before until he had an encounter with GOD. In what is one of the most interesting stories in all the Bible, Jacob physically wrestled with GOD all night. When morning came, in order to stop the wrestling, GOD dislocated Jacob’s hip and called him by another name:
“Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel; you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.” Genesis 32:28 MSG
God looked at Jacob and said you are no longer who you think you are. You are now who I say you are. You are Israel. You are no longer defined by what others have said or what you think, but you are now defined by the future that I have for you. In the New Testament, Paul describes this transaction for us in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV
Just like Jacob, GOD doesn’t define us by our past mistakes or sins. He looks at our future and says, “You are the righteousness of GOD. You are made perfect in Me.” Before Jacob was ever born, GOD called him Israel and before you were ever born GOD called you by your distinct name. You were destined for greatness before you were ever formed in the womb. Satan always wants to remind us of our past, but your true past was destined before you ever took a breathe. When Satan tried to remind me of my past and how unqualified I am to be sharing the gospel through Anchor Movement, I just remind him of Jacob. When you read the genealogy of Jesus you see Jacob mentioned third from the top after his Grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac, but what you don’t see is anything mentioned about his past. GOD doesn’t record Jacob’s past when describes his future. GOD only remembers his future and that is the only thing he remembers in your life. GOD doesn’t look at your past and define you by your mistakes or sins, but he looks at your future and says, “you are chosen, loved, and intended for greatness.” The next time Satan tries to remind you of your past, just tell him, "My name is Jacob!"