The majority of Bible readers struggle with the biblical figure of Jacob when they consider his life. The basic question they ask is: “How can a thief, a liar, and a coward be considered the father of God’s people, Israel?”
The blind, elderly Isaac had two different blessings in store for his sons. One was the blessing of the firstborn son prepared for Esau, and the other was the blessing of Abraham prepared for Jacob. The first was a general blessing of prosperity and power, but the second one had to do with a special blessing for Abraham:
“May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company 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.” (Genesis 28:3)
Jacob’s place in the covenant was not based upon the blessing he stole, but upon the blessing that Isaac gave him before he departed for Padan Aram. In fact, Jacob (upon his return from Haran and before meeting Esau) sent Esau reparations; thereby honestly acknowledging the sin of his youth. In so doing, he returned that which he had stolen (see Gen 32:1-21). Prior to meeting Esau, Jacob’s encounter with the angel of the Lord enabled him to overcome his fears (see Gen 32:22-30).
Jacob experienced the opposite of the things described in the stolen blessing (prosperity and power) while at the same time, his life unfolded in accordance with the great covenantal blessing that Isaac had bestowed upon him (see Gen 47:9). Prosperity and power belonged to Esau (see Gen 27:28-29), but God had promised Jacob the blessing of Abraham – an everlasting heritage of children and the land (see Gen 28:1-5).