‘And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.’
Genesis 28 vs 14 – 15
Despite general consensus, there are numerous examples of God’s grace – his undeserved and unmerited favour – in the old testament. The above promises were made to none-other than Jacob. A man who stole both birth-right and sacred blessings from his older brother.
One would think such misdemeanors could only result in God’s displeasure. And yet, as the above verses convey, he not only avoided God’s displeasure, but enjoyed a lifetime of His support and love.
Because even before he was born, Jacob and his descendants had been chosen by God to be His children.
Throughout the bible, God demonstrates a penchant for blessing the most unlikely of characters.
Let’s be honest, in his early years, Jacob’s character was questionable, to say the least. And there is no better evidence of this than his response to Rebecca’s devious plan to usurp his older sibling’s rightful inheritance. He neither disapproved of nor frowned upon his mother’s dastardly plan – for that is what it was – a plan both dishonest and immoral in nature and design.
Rather, his only concern was whether or not he would be found out.
“But look,” Jacob replied to Rebekah, “my brother, Esau, is a hairy man, and my skin is smooth. What if my father touches me? He’ll see that I’m trying to trick him, and then he’ll curse me instead of blessing me.”
Genesis 27 vs 11 -12
Not even the faintest suggestion of him considering the plan to be immoral or wrong!
And yet, God chose Jacob to be His blessed child.
If you ever wanted evidence of the transformational power of God’s grace in the old testament you need look no further than the life of Jacob.
Jacob’s heart and life was transformed by God’s love.
Whilst spending the night in Bethel on his way to Paddan-aram, God told him in a dream;
” I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of you father Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants…….what’s more I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go…….I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I promised you.”
Genesis 28 vs 13 – 15
Did Jacob deserve such love, devotion, and favour from God?
Not at all.
A few verses later, we witness the beginning of the transformation of heart.
‘Then Jacob made this vow, ” If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God..” ‘
Genesis 28 vs 20-21
The knowledge of God’s unconditional and unmerited favour (grace) carries far greater power for transformation than the law ever can. It was the knowledge of God’s love for him, and the realisation of how precious he was to God that enabled Jacob to change for the better.
But as I pointed out in the article, ‘He Is Always At Peace With you’, transformation of character doesn’t happen over-night. First comes the realisation of God’s unconditional and unfailing love, followed by a recognition that He wants the very best for you, leading to a desire to learn to trust Him, which ultimately leads to the manifestation of a better character /person.
The law cannot achieve such results because the law can only attempt to work from the outside-in. Whereas, God’s unconditional love works from the inside and consequently manifests on the outside.
Through Jesus, whether or not you deserve it, God is always at peace with you, and ‘will be with you wherever you go, and will not leave you until he has given you everything he promised you’ (Genesis 28. Vs 15).
They say love conquers all. It truly does.
Love will always be a far more powerful and long-lasting character and life-changing agent than rules and regulations. Rules and regulations work from the outside-in, and as a result are neither wholly sustainable nor complete in outcome. But grace, because it is anchored in one’s heart, works from the inside, leading to a natural, whole, in-depth, and permanent transformation of one’s character.
My readers will tell you I wasn’t the most angelic of children. Indeed, much to the embarrassment and shame of two of my older brothers, my prep school days were a cacophony of trouble and mischief. Be-it getting into a physical fight with a school prefect (four years above me) in my first week, to breaking a window in my second week, to getting suspended for being drunken and disorderly at the summer fair, I was perennially the main subject of discussion in prefects and staff meetings.
My older brother, who was Head of School when I first arrived at Christ Church Cathedral Preparatory School, Oxford, often reminds me of the shame and embarrassment he experienced when, during one particularly Segun-focused prefects’ meeting, the deputy head of school made the following comment;
“The little Akande is becoming more and more difficult to handle. He seems to see school as a big playground! We really don’t know what to do about him.”
My older brother tells me the only thing he was able to say was;
“Please accept my apology. I will have a chat with him.”
And so he did. But though I loved and respected my older brother (as I still do), and as a result behaved myself for a couple of days, I always reverted to my natural default – mischief.
I must have been an absolute nightmare to handle!
Two things prevented me from being expelled.
1. My two older siblings were model students, highly respected by all, and the cornerstone of the rugby, football and cricket teams.
2. I was the star of my age-group’s rugby, football, and cricket teams.
Fast forward three years, and I’m sitting in the study of a very concerned headmaster. For the first time I begin to realise he’s not just concerned because he has to be, but because he genuinely wants me to succeed. If I recall correctly, he said something like this;
“Akande, I’m very concerned about you. You have so much potential, but it seems the only thing you care about is yourself. Your parents have gone to great lengths to send you to this school, and I for one will be heartbroken if you let them down. Not only are you not taking your studies seriously, but you’re forever on the verge of being expelled. But because I believe in you, I’m going to take you to a school tomorrow – the place I hope you will attend for your secondary school education. We will spend the day there.”
The next day, my former headmaster, the late Hugh McDonald, not only drove me from Oxford to Cheltenham, but as the day unfolded it became more and more apparent that he genuinely wanted the very best for me.
The change within was not only swift but near violent in its extremity. Within a year my studies significantly improved, my behaviour was near exemplary (yes, ‘near exemplary’, not ‘exemplary’ – to say otherwise would be shameless fabrication), and as a result I was made deputy head of school; an incredible transformation of an individual most likely to be expelled.
What brought the change?
Love is a far greater force for change than rules and regulations.
Jacob didn’t deserve God’s unconditional love and support, but because he was chosen he received it in abundance.
You are not only chosen to be God’s child, but have the added surety of being in Christ Jesus. And because of this, no matter how things may look around you, be in absolutely no doubt that God’s unconditional /unfailing love and support is yours now and forevermore.
Focus not on your mistakes, think not of your circumstance, and look away from your failings. Rather, focus on how dearly loved and precious you are to your father in heaven and let the unfailing power of His Grace do the rest.
He will never leave you or forsake you.
His is always at peace with you.
And you are forever loved and precious in His eyes.