Jacob’s troubles “few and evil have been the years of my life”

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Poor, poor Jacob, he had a rough life.
When Pharaoh asked “How old are you?”,  Jacob replied;” “….. few and evil have been the days of the years of my life……..”. He was 130 years old at the time. Sure, he was wealthy, he was blessed in many ways, but he experienced a lot of pain and suffering in those 130 years. Despite his years of troubles,  God promised that He would always be with him.  It didn’t mean life would be perfect or without trouble, but in all he would go through, Jacob knew that the Lord was with him. There is much to learn as we study the life of Jacob. He suffered many hardships but God was always with Him. Life will not always be easy for us and some of us may feel like it’s been a never ending journey of sorrow.
 

Consider the first 130 years of Jacob’s life before he stands before Pharoah and says these words “few and evil have been the years of my life”

  • spends months fighting with twin brother before he’s born
  • grew up as 2nd best compared to Esau, Esau was Isaac’s favorite son
  • Hated- Brother wants to kill him – Jacob runs away from family in fear of his life
  • Deceived – Tricked by uncle Laban – Works 7 years for Rachel, the one he loves, only to be tricked by uncle Laban and wakes up with her sister, Leah, instead
  • Deceived – Forced to work another 7 years for uncle Laban for Rachel
  • Deceived- Uncle Laban changes his wages 10x
  • Not treated fairly -works 6 more years (20 in total) for uncle Laban for livestock
  • Affliction: Jacobs reply: There I was! In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes.  Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times.  Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night.”
  • Fighting -married to 2 sisters who are in constant competition, so much he gets angry with Rachel
  • Hated- by Laban’s sons and Laban seems extremely jealous and angry with him when Jacob leaves
  • Sorrow-Accidently curses his wife Rachel, the one he loves, to die
  • Pain- Gets in an all night wrestling match with the Lord/Angel of the Lord
  • Pain- Lord throws his hip out of joint, he walks the rest of his days with a limp
  • Fear- confronts his brother Esau in great fear, but his life is spared
  • Sorrow- Wife Rachel soon dies after the words spoken over her to die, as she gives birth to Benjamin
  • Sorrow- His father , Isaac, dies soon after Rachel
  • Disgrace/Humiliation-His first-born son, Reuben sleeps with his wife, who was Rachel’s servant. This was the ultimate disgrace to Rachel’s grave, an act by Leah’s family
  • Disgrace – His 2nd and 3rd sons Levi and Simeon deceive a city and ruthlessly murder all the males which greatly upsets and disturbs Jacob
  • Aggravation- His older sons bully his young son Joseph, by Rachel. You can imagine the constant fighting and upset between the 10 brothers against Joseph and the discord that Jacob had to endure.
  • Deep Sorrow- Jacob’s beloved son, Joseph, is killed by a wild animal – or so he thinks..His very own sons wanted to kill Joseph but decide to sell him as a slave
  • Jacob has lost the love of his life, his father and his beloved son-
  • Famine- at age 128-130 a great famine comes upon the land and he and all his family are about to die.
  • Deceived -at age 130 finds out that his sons lied to him and actually sold Joseph as a slave 23 years earlier
  • Death at age 147

Let’s be clear – Jacob’s life and some of his decisions weren’t so great. ( he stole, lied, deceived, his wife Leah was unloved so…., he also fought with God and man) However,  he was a man fully blessed by God even though, from our worldly view, he didn’t seem to be. God always protected him and was there along his walk of life.

 
Despite all these troubles in his life, he was blessed 2x by his father Isaac, his mother was given a prophecy over him before he was born, he received the birthright and the Lord visited him many times to tell him that He would always be with him. You would think that with all the worldly troubles and sorrow that Jacob faced, that his life was not blessed, but not so.
Words spoken as prophecy over him to his mother:

“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”

His blessing from Isaac (stolen from Essau)

Let peoples serve you,
And nations bow down to you.
Be master over your brethren,
And let your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
And blessed be those who bless you!”

After he’s been blessed by his father, he blesses him again before he leaves to see uncle Laban:
 “May God Almighty bless you,
And make you fruitful and multiply you,
That you may be an assembly of peoples;
And give you the blessing of Abraham,
To you and your descendants with you,
That you may inherit the land
In which you are a stranger,
Which God gave to Abraham.
Blessed by God on the way to uncle Labans house:

“I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac;
the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.
 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth;
you shall spread abroad to the west and the east,
to the north and the south;
and in you and in your seed
all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go,
and will bring you back to this land;
for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

God helps Jacob again:

Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’  And He said, ‘Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.

and again before he meets Essau,
So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.  When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is God’s camp.” And he called the name of that place Mahanaim
 then again when he was alone before he met Esau:
   He wrested with God, demanded a blessing, was given a new name “Israel” for he struggled with God and men and prevailed. and the Lord Blessed him  there, in Peniel, for Jacob “saw God face to face, and my live is preserved”

God speaks to Jacob again:
Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.

  Life won’t always be perfect, but we have a future hope that is perfect. Don’t let life’s problems bring you down or make you fee like God isn’t with you. Consider the life of Jacob, Joseph, Job, the prophets, Jesus, the disciples and many more- God was with them even in their troubles, sorrow, pain and affliction. God see’s- that’s what he told Jacob. Whatever you are going through, trust in the Lord. He is with you, let this hope give you peace and rest.
     Despite his tragedies, Jacob is reunited again with Joseph at age 130 and lives the next 17 years with his family to see Joseph’s sons. He learns the truth of what Leah’s sons did to Joseph but interestingly enough, during the final blessings/curses over the 12 sons, this sin isn’t mentioned by Jacobs as others are – like Rubens betrayal and the murderous acts of Levi and Simeon
 
Isaiah 40:27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?

Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.

(Jacob – had Joseph when he was 88-91 years old. Joseph was 17 when his brothers sold him. Jacob saw Joseph again at age 130 and died at age 147. He was about 66-76 when he ran away from his brother Esau to go to Laban’s house.)

We, just as Jacob was blessed, have been blessed by the Lord in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.Eph 1:3

2 thoughts on “Jacob’s troubles “few and evil have been the years of my life”

  1. Isaiah 43:1, “Now this is what the Lord says— the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel— “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.”

    Isaiah 44:23, “Rejoice, heavens, for the Lord has acted; shout, depths of the earth. Break out into singing, mountains, forest, and every tree in it. For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and glorifies Himself through Israel.”

    It’s all spiritual. The flesh (Jacob) became spiritual (Israel) under a covenant relationship.

  2. Jacob gives me a lot of hope! (: Like him I have made many, many mistakes, and walked in the flesh, but other times I’ve struggled all night with Adonai and came away renewed with a new walk and perspective. I’d like to say that I always walk more like the spiritual side (Israel) than the (fleshly) Jacob, but the truth is that both sides still are within me. (Rom. 7) Thanks for reminding us that even our broken messed up trials and tribulations are leading us someplace worth all the pain and struggles! (:

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