Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jacob-Israel; What's In A Name?


I know in the Bible that God changed Jacob's name to Israel. Why is it that the Bible still referred to him as Jacob even though God changed his name to Israel?


You are right God did change Jacob's name to Israel.
Genesis 32:28 ESV
"Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed."

But the Bible, and thus The LORD, does not stop also in referring to Jacob as Jacob and now also Israel. Here is the story of Jacob.
Jacob is the son of Issac, who was the son of Abraham. Abraham was in covenant with the LORD that he would be blessed through Issac a royal lineage. Jacob, who would be known as Israel would have the twelve tribes of Israel come from and be named by his twelve sons.
Jacob means heal-catcher, supplanter, deceiver, trickster. Jacob wrestled with God. Jacob had been a heal-catcher in birth as he was the second born as a twin yet he always was supplanting his brother. Jacob deceived his brother and cheated him out of his birthright. He was a trickster as he tricked his father into thinking he was Esau. He tricked and deceived, with the help of his mother Rebekah, his father Issac into bestowing the family birthright reserved for the first born. He did this by preparing a meal and animal fur for fake skin hair to the aging father to have Jacob confused with Esau. This deceived the elderly Issac as he bestowed the family blessing inheritance, owed to the first born, to the younger Jacob. You can read the account of Jacob being a trickster in Genesis chapter 27.

Jacob was forced to flee and contemplate his life of misleading people. Years later Jacob was leading his own people and fearing to meet his brother Esau at a river. At the edge of the Jabbok river, after sending his own family party over the river, he stayed and wrestled with God. This was a spiritual and physical contest. Now the LORD changed his name to Israel to commemorate their struggle with Jacob's destiny. Through His grace and mercy God was going to bless his people of Israel through Jacob/Israel to fulfill his covenant with Abraham. God was going to establish His own people through who His only Son. His Son would one day be born into Israel the people of God (Chosen People).
Genesis 32:28 ESV
"Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed."

Yes, there is a spiritual reason for the names. Also, sometimes the man Israel/Jacob just has to be distinguished from ethnic and worshiping Israel. So the name Jacob is still used.

Sometimes we need Jacob identified as the man he was and also in his role as leader and the father of the twelve tribes. So both names are used. Here are two examples.

Genesis 48:2 ESV
"And it was told to Jacob, "Your son Joseph has come to you." Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed."

Genesis 49:2
"Assemble and listen, O sons of Jacob,listen to Israel your father."

Here is an account of the LORD referring to the nation of Israel as Jacob. The LORD seems to be rebuking the nation by calling her Jacob when she is not faithful.
Jeremiah 46:28
"Fear not, O Jacob my servant,declares the LORD,for I am with you.I will make a full end of all the nations to which I have driven you,but of you I will not make a full end. I will discipline you in just measure,and I will by no means leave you unpunished."

The LORD always loves His people. He will gather a remnant from Jacob/Israel one day. King Jesus, the King of the Jews, will save a remnant of His people. This goes back to even the man Jacob and His people Israel and before to the covenant with Abraham.

Micah 2:12 ESV
"I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel;I will set them togetherlike sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture,a noisy multitude of men."

Romans 11:26 ESV
"And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion,he will banish ungodliness from Jacob";..."

Make no mistake about salvation. No one deserves it. Neither Jacob, you,Jews or gentiles or anyone deserves grace. God, trough Jesus Christ, extended grace (unmerited favor) to a remote people in the middle-east, to show off His glory. He sent a Savior to be born into those people, His people, Israel. His Son fulfilled the laws he gave to His people Israel. He is the unblemished Lamb with no defect. Christ Alone is the perfect sacrifice for our salvation. Jesus Christ, God's only Son is the last High Priest and sacrifice to declare all His people, Jew and Gentile, righteous before God. Jesus Christ was the Passover Lamb who was a sacrifice for our sins. When we repent and turn to the LORD we receive the righteousness of Christ

Israel and Gentiles have one High Priest, a final, the last one. He takes away the sins of the elect, restores us with Peace with God, and grants eternal life with the Father when we repent and turn to Christ. God looked on the nation Israel for His Son, the Lamb, for our sacrifice and High Priest to come from.

Hebrews 7:24
English Standard Version (ESV)
"24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever."

Thank you LORD Jesus for blessing us through Jacob/Israel forever!

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