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Wise As Serpents, Harmless As Doves

Jacob the Warrior

For many people, it is quite difficult to imagine that Jacob, the son of Issac is a warrior. After all, he never fought a battle in his life! But is he a warrior? Yes, he is, and a "mighty one"! It is even confirmed in the Bible:

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God (heavenly beings) and with humans and have overcome.” Genesis 32:28

Jacob Had to Fight

Compared to his grandfather Abraham and father Issac, Jacob had to fight for everything in his life! What he possessed did not come easy. He had to earn them.

Abraham was Blessed

Abraham was born at a time when the world was filled with idolatry. The Lord called him out from his homeland and blessed him tremendously. Abraham had great wealth, and the Lord even warned the king of Gerar Abimelech to take his dirty hands off his beautiful wife Sarah. Everyone saw him as a prince, and no one dared to touch him.

Issac was Even More Protected

Abraham's son, Jacob's father Issac was even more protected! He was born in a home with loving parents, and he inherited great wealth from his father Abraham. His jealous brother Ishmael was driven out by his mother Sarah so he could grow up safely. After the death of his parents, Abraham's faithful servant arranged for him to marry his wise and beautiful wife Rebekah. Even his evil son Esau worked hard to please him.

Jacob Earned Everything by Himself

Contrary to Abraham and Issac, Jacob had to earn everything by himself.

When his brother Esau planned to kill him, Jacob escaped from home without any possessions. All he had was the "Blessing of Abraham" he received from his father Issac and afterwards directly from God. All the great wealth he acquired afterwards was earned by his own hard work and wisdom.

Jacob fell in love with his wife Rachel at first sight. But unlike his father Issac whose marriage was arranged by his wealthy grandfather Abraham with loads of presents, Jacob had to work for Rachel's father Laban in order to marry her. In addition, Laban deceived Jacob to marry also his elder daughter Leah so Jacob ended up having a huge family with four wives and twelve children, and he worked twenty years for Laban.

Jacob probably managed his big family well so the two daughters of Laban chose to follow him back to his homeland instead of staying with their father. However, his brother Esau's hatred towards him never ceased. By giving a large portion of his wealth to Esau and carefully planning his trip, Jacob finally managed to escape from Esau's hands.

It can be seen that Jacob had to fight for everything, including his own life! Even for the blessing that the Lord had promised him, Jacob had to fight to keep it from being robbed.

Be Wise as Serpents, Harmless as Doves

Compared to his father Issac who was protected and grew up innocent as a dove, Jacob was the one who had to face the harsh reality. Through his interactions with many selfish, dishonest,, angry and evil people, Jacob had learnt to protect his own and to beat their evil plans.

Was Jacob deceitful? Probably it is more accurate to say that Jacob had understood the tactics in the evil world, and he developed successful coping strategies through many painful experiences.

Jesus told His disciples that they should be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves". He does not want His disciples to be taken advantage of! Instead, Jesus taught us that we must be wise enough NOT to be deceived by liars in this world and the father of lies who is Satan.

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16

Jacob's Wrestle with God's Messenger

Finally, how could Jacob wrestle with a mighty messenger from God and won the fight? I believe it is perhaps more appropriate to see this wrestling as a prophecy or metaphor. From the Books of other prophets, we can see that messengers of God often play out their prophecies instead of just declaring their message in words.

Jacob had in fact struggled with many evil and dishonest people throughout his whole life. When this messenger from God met him, Jacob had just won back the property his father-in-law had stolen from him by deception and setting up many unfair terms. The messenger of God therefore declared that, "Jacob has wrestled with God (heavenly beings) and with humans, and he has overcome". Then he blessed Jacob.

A Question of Interest

Finally, a question of interest for our readers - If the messenger of God let Jacob win the fight on purpose, then why did he wrench Jacob's hip?

Please write to us if you have found out the answer!

We look forward to hearing from you :)

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