Who Are You?

Anonymous Member  |  November 30, 2019

Her eyes were black, sparkling like diamonds. Her hair was as robes of silken satin, the kind you can’t help but touch to your cheek. When her eye caught his, he felt something he’d never felt before, a kind of joy that coursed through his veins and made his stomach flip flop like a beached fish.  He wanted HER. And she wanted HIM.

But even if a suitor had a big name and family ties, a penniless man was a penniless man and could pay no dowry. To her father, though, that wasn’t bad news at all. I mean, who doesn’t want a superman servant who’s ready to go to any length for you?

To us nowadays, a year or two drags on interminably like eternity, but for these two, the seven years of service required before marriage flew by in a flurry of happy heartbeats. And payday finally came.

I doubt her sister ever wanted to impersonate her. If anyone detected her, if the groom saw through her act, then it would all be over. But with makeup, fixed hair, and cream to rub her skin dark and beautiful, she did look just like Rachel. And it was perfect.

With the exultant joy of a victor galloping home from battle and yet the gentle love of a shepherd, Jacob took her home. And he loved her. Morning dawned and he reached to lift the veil from her face. Can you imagine that moment? She stiffens. His embrace now feels like crocodile jaws about to snap down in deathly grip. No! Where is his bride?

Déjà vu.

Crazy eh!? He had claimed to be his brother. And now he’s married to a woman who claimed to be her sister. How could he love her?

Rewinding to the beginning of this saga, I can see God sending safety feature video alerts to Jacob’s blazing conscience as he covered his arms in goat hair to deceive his dad. If only Jacob had known the cost of sacrificing truth… If he had measured the depth of suffering brought upon himself with one wrong move… But he didn’t. His one sin multiplied like a dandelion seed and was never fully rooted out of his family. Here’s the dirge list from Bible commentary Patriarchs and Prophets:

“Jacob had sinned, and had deeply suffered. Many years of toil, care, and sorrow had been his since the day when his great sin caused him to flee from his father's tents. A homeless fugitive, separated from his mother, whom he never saw again; laboring seven years for her whom he loved, only to be basely cheated; toiling twenty years in the service of a covetous and grasping kinsman; seeing his wealth increasing, and sons rising around him, but finding little joy in the contentious and divided household; distressed by his daughter's shame, by her brothers’ revenge, by the death of Rachel, by the unnatural crime of Reuben, by Judah's sin, by the cruel deception and malice practiced toward Joseph—how long and dark is the catalogue of evils spread out to view! Again and again he had reaped the fruit of that first wrong deed. Over and over he saw repeated among his sons the sins of which he himself had been guilty.”


So the lesson of the story? Don’t sin. It’s not fun or worth it. Definitely don’t pretend to be one of your siblings, or anyone else. That doesn’t turn out well either. But here’s the incredible thing: despite lifelong consequences, God gave Jacob another chance, a redo session. After a second seven years of labor for his original girlfriend, whom he then marries, Jacob, his wives, concubines, and the big happy—or perhaps not-so-happy family mounted camels and wrangled their sheep and toddlers to move back “home.” But word of their return seemed to travel the pony express, and the still simmering Esau roused his 400 soldiers to dish out payback to his brother Jacob for his own impersonation (and it wasn’t hot lentils).

Terrified, Jacob threw himself down before God under the cover of night, praying for an escape. And then, God shows up. Only, Jacob does not recognize Him. I don’t think of the patriarchs of the Bible as the muscle man type of dudes, but apparently, Jacob was almost built of steel. Relentlessly, he fought until God, seeing Jacob is not about to give up, touched his hip, causing him to crumple in pain and weakness.

Now Jacob realizes the wrestler is no ordinary man. He is Divine. Instead of fighting, Jacob clings to His robe, pleading for a blessing. God asks him, “who are you?”

Wow. It’s the same question. Last time, some twenty years before when his father asked it, without a blink he had answered, “I am Esau,” confirming his deceit with scruffy goat-hair arms and hunter-man cologne. But under the animal hide, his name remained Jacob—a liar. The very name meant “the deceiver.” As Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob?" And he’d proven it to be true.

And now God asks, “Who are you?”

And this time—helpless, desperate, and remorseful—he knows who it is true. “I am Jacob,” he responds. Then God says, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” If others had been present, surely there would have been cheering and fireworks and an Olympic medal. Thus, God changes his name. He changes his life actually, right then and there. This moment of miracles leaves Jacob crippled. He forever walked with a limp—a reminder of his helplessness and the power of God.

So there’s hope for me. Like Jacob, I suffer the consequences of my sins. I am broken and weak in my wrestling. But this is a gift; pain and weakness open my eyes to know who I am so that I can know the Divine. As you’re reading this, like me, you’ve already performed that one sin, or perhaps thousands. But God has a second chance waiting for you. If you’ll bow down, He will show up. And if you wrestle until you’re too broken and weak to do anything but cling... He will give you a new name.

The previous quote ends thus: “But bitter as had been the discipline, it had accomplished its work. The chastening, though grievous, had yielded ‘the peaceable fruit of righteousness.’ Hebrews 12:11.”