Have you ever witnessed one of those people with constant struggles in their life? Or, maybe you are one of those people? Sometimes the circumstances are beyond our control and other times they are due to the consequences of our own actions. Either way God uses those situations to grow and sometimes even to discipline us – His children.
He lived a life of conflict. He bribed his weak brother out of his birthright and tricked his father into giving him a blessing. Thereafter, he fled the land of his family for his brother’s desire was to kill him. He was a man who knew what he wanted and went for it without thinking of others.
Yet, God chose him for he was in the line of Abraham, whom God had made an everlasting covenant.
God visited Jacob in a dream with promises to bless him. Jacob awoke and made a vow to follow God if he met all of his requirements.
If God will be with me and watch over me on this journey, if He provides me with food to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God.
Genesis 28:20-21 HCSB
Jacob became a conditional follower.
From there, Jacob journeys out and meets the woman he would like to marry, Rachel, the daughter of his Uncle Laban. The deceiver had now become the deceived. Laban agrees to let Jacob marry Rachel only after he has worked for him for seven years. Jacob agrees, but at the end of that time Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah, the older sister. Laban then agrees to let Jacob marry Rachel as well if he agrees to work for him another seven years.
At this point a pattern is beginning to reveal itself.
Lack of surrender leads to struggle.
Jacob did not fully surrender his life to the Lord. He then finds himself on the receiving end of some conditional demands from a father-in-law who will not fully surrender his daughter. Jacob endures manipulation and deception just as he had carried out on his own family. After twenty years with his father-in-law, the Lord blessed Jacob just as He had promised. At this point, the turmoil ensued and the Lord commanded Jacob to go back his homeland. God reassured him that He would be with him.
Imagine Jacob’s fear as he thought of the state of anger he left his brother in. As he struggled between his knowledge of God and His promises and his own fleshly fears, Jacob prayed:
“God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Go back to your land and to your family, and I will cause you to prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness You have shown Your servant. Indeed, I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two camps. Please rescue me from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid of him; otherwise, he may come and attack me, the mothers, and their children. You have said, ‘I will cause you to prosper, and I will make your offspring like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’ ”
Genesis 32:9-12 HCSB
That’s a bit of the back story of how Jacob got to this place. He prayed the above prayer, ever mindful of God’s promise to him and made a backup plan of his own in case God didn’t come through. He sent his slaves out in separate groups ahead of himself, each group was to present many gifts to Esau. Next, he sent his family ahead of him. Then, Jacob was left alone.
This is where things get strange.
Jacob wrestles with a man who turns out to be God.
Why would God choose to meet Jacob in a wrestling match??
This was to be a turning point in Jacob’s life. Jacob fought and resisted God throughout his life.[i] It was time to surrender, to walk completely in obedience with the Lord; no more living life on his own terms. The ever-determined Jacob refused to stop wrestling with God until He blessed him. Finally, at daybreak Jacob determined what we all need to discover, man cannot fully receive the blessing until we completely surrender our lives to the Lord.[ii] It was with this realization that Jacob finally received his blessing.
Finally, at the dawn of a “new day”, a transformed Jacob walked away with a new name (Israel), a renewed life, and a “new walk” (limp) to humble him and remind him of where his strength truly must come – from the Lord.[iii] Did Jacob live a perfect life after this? No. Did he still experience trials in his life? Absolutely. The guarantee of a life surrendered to the Lord is not one without trials, hardships, or sin, but there is a new-found peace and inner wisdom from knowing and living for the Lord. This is what I desire for all of you today.
Do you have areas of your life that you need to surrender? Others you need to pray for? Let me know how I can join you in prayer.
Until next time,
For the entire story of Jacob, read Genesis chapters 25-50.
1.n.d. Asbury Bible Commentary. Accessed January 7, 2018. https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/asbury-bible-commentary/Jacobs-transformation.
2.“Text Commentaries: Jamieson, Fausset & Brown (Blue Letter Bible: Genesis).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 7 December, 2015.
3.Wiersbe, Warren W. n.d. Books.google.com. Accessed January 7, 2018. https://books.google.com/books?id=GgLq2LR_cFcC&pg=PA110&lpg=PA110&dq=warren+wiersbe+jacob+wrestles&source=bl&ots=NVGyGbuFt3&sig=4znQhJ_ivMEAbDKfjfl_X8vSZtU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi62rGC88bYAhVs04MKHQVPDK0Q6AEINzAC#v=onepage&q=warren%20wiersbe%20jacob%20wrestles&f=false.
4.Wiersbe, Warren W. With the Word; Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN 1991.p.38
[i] (Wiersbe n.d.)p.110