Taking Jacob off the Flannel Board

I’m going to start this blog with some shameless self-promotion. I’m usually pretty shameless in my self-promotion, but I have even less shame this time around because what I’m promoting has something to do with this post. So just bear with me as I let you know that I finally released a full-length album made up of some of my favorite songs I’ve done as And Kings Will Come From Your Body. You can download the album in high-quality audio for seven bucks, or if you’re a cheapskate who doesn’t want to support a musician/DJ/blogger who is well-meaning, generally likable, and undeniably handsome…well, you can spit in my face and stream the whole thing for free.

But enough of this mostly sarcastic guilt trip. I figured that now that I’ve released my last collection of songs as And Kings Will Come From Your Body, it would be apropos for me to blog on the significance of the name. It comes from a passage in Genesis during the Jacob narrative. Genesis is my favorite book in the entire Bible, and of all the interesting, complex characters in Genesis, Jacob is my favorite. This brings me to the main thrust of this post:

Jacob was a rat. But I love him.

I think a lot of times, we have a tendency to think of Bible characters as the little flannel board characters we grew up with in Sunday school. They’re cartoonish, frozen in one position, and usually smiling. But if you ask me, I don’t think Jacob did very much smiling in his life. And the times he did, the smile was probably accompanied by a sinister gleam in his eye. This guy is one of the biggest scoundrels you can find in the pages of the Bible. He manipulates his brother into giving away his birthright. He takes advantage of his ailing father’s blindness to steal the firstborn’s blessing. He goes to his uncle’s house to hide away and doesn’t leave until he’s managed to marry both of the poor guy’s daughters and come up with some sort of scheme to get most of the livestock, too.

And yet God shows Jacob grace. In fact, the portrait Moses paints of God almost shows him constantly calling down to Jacob, saying, “If you’ll just stop being so stupid and trust me, I’ll bless you so much you won’t need another con!” It’s like God’s following Jacob around, throwing blessings at him faster than he can throw them back in God’s face.

One of the most powerful instances of this is found in Genesis 35. God appears to Jacob and reiterates all the promises he made to him early on in his life. One of the phrases that really stuck out to me – and the phrase that I ended up using to name my band – was and kings will come from your body. The promise is big enough as it is. All the kings of Israel will be able to trace their family tree back to Jacob…including the King of Israel.

But what really stands out to me about this promise is when God makes it. It’s not early in Jacob’s life, before he’s had a chance to really do some damage as a swindler. It’s after he’s found a way to swindle, deceive, and cheat nearly everyone close to him. When God makes this promise, he’s not approaching a flannel board cartoon character with no baggage and a big smile. He’s approaching one of the biggest scoundrels who ever lived. And he’s telling him that Jesus Christ is going to be directly related to him. That’s unbelievable.

One day when I read this passage, it just hit me that if God can use someone like Jacob to father a holy nation, then maybe he can use someone like me to do some productive things for his Kingdom.

That’s what God does. The Bible is filled with stories about broken and dirty people who anyone else would cast aside being picked up and used by God to do great things. Moses was a political fugitive when God called him. Amos was an illiterate farmer. Gideon was hiding from his bully landlords. Paul was on his way to murder some Christians using the Jewish legal system.

Don’t ever think you’re too broken, too screwed up, or too insignificant for God to use you. These are precisely the kinds of people God prefers to use.

“God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”

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