Genesis Sermons from Gospel Chapel Ministries HOME SERMONS SERMON NOTES
#404 STABILIZED GENESIS 32:13-32
In the last lesson, we began to trace Jacob's journey from his exile in Haran back to Bethel. We spoke about how Jacob had seen God's host and how his messengers were sent to his brother Esau. We have considered Jacob's prayer, confessing his unworthiness and pleading God's promises. What a blessed lesson we have in the life history of Jacob to illustrate who you and I are by nature.
In GEN 32:10-12, Jacob pleaded before the Lord, "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant [He pleads the promises:] And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude."
Jacob came before the Lord pleading these promises. He had not forgotten them, yet what followed after such a powerful prayer of faith was the exercise of his human reasoning. This is where you and I will fall until God brings us in His arms and stabilizes our faith. Jacob believed, he pleaded the Word of God, he pleaded his unworthiness, and he pleaded the promise that God had given him - the sure mercies of God.
The subject of this study is how the Lord stabilized Jacob who was as unstable as water. On one hand he was pleading the promises of God and on the other hand he was still that same scheming Jacob. He was going to scheme and try to out-figure his brother. Instead of walking by faith he was walking by sight. He was looking at the fact that Esau was coming, and imagining what Esau might do. In all of his fear of Esau, where was that faith that he had just laid before God? He had just said, "thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea," yet in the very next breath he tried to out-scheme Esau.
In JAM 1:5 we read, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not ." When Jacob came before God to plead His promises, there was no upbraiding nor reproach in that promise. The Lord did not say to Jacob that He would do this, but he must not forget what he had done to his brother. The Lord never mentioned his sin. The "promises of God are yea, and Amen" in Christ; they are not anything that we merit for any worthiness that is in or on us. It says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." The Lord wants us to turn from our human reasoning, to turn from our sin, and return to the Lord and rest upon Him and His promises.
In verse 6 it says, "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering ." Do you see what Jacobs problem was? He asked in faith, but he was wavering. He had faith to believe God, but he was going to do it for the Lord. "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."
Verses 7-8 say, "For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." Do you see what Jacobs problem was and why Jacob was in such distress? He received no comfort in spite of the rich promise; he could not rest upon it because he was as unstable as water. He received no comfort from the Lord in the face of such blessed promises because he was as wavering as a wave of the sea. He did not trust in the Lord. He did not rest upon the promise that God had given him. Old Jacob is unaltered: he is going to scheme his way through. "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." He is going to pray to the Lord and confess that he is unworthy. He is going to plead the promises, then turn right around and do the same thing over again. That is how you and I are by nature. The life of Jacob illustrates what the people of God are until the Lord stabilizes us. In his instability, Jacob wavered like a "...wave of the sea driven with the wind," as he went from a prayer of faith to such sympathetic human reasoning.
GEN 32:13 says, "And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother." There was nothing wrong with the mere act of sending a present to greet his brother. We read that the angels of God met him (just like the father of the Prodigal, who came to meet him to welcome him home). There is nothing recorded in the Bible to deny the possibility that Esau came to welcome Jacob home. As we read through the Scriptures and see how the meeting took place, it would appear that his motive was to greet Jacob and welcome him home. The sending of a gift, in itself, was not wrong. We read in GEN 32:14-16 that he sent "Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams, Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals. And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove." That was a very generous gift, wasnt it? He was sending a gift to greet his brother, which, in itself, was not wrong.
The following verses are written that we may become better acquainted with the deceitfulness of our own hearts. In 1CO 10:11 we read, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
I remember a time when I was speaking with an old man who had been in the ministry for fifty years. He had lived in sin, and when his sin was revealed and he was put out of the ministry for his sin, he turned to me and said, "David sinned." He said it as though the fact that David had sinned and been forgiven gave him the badge to sin. These things are not written as a license for us to sin. These things are written for our admonition, for ensamples, to let you and me know that Jacob fell in such-and-such a sin. They are written to let us know that David, the man after Gods own heart, fell in such-and-such a sin. Abraham, the friend of God, fell in this-and-that sin. These things are written to admonish us that if those men fell in those sins, then we must beware: the devil is out to get us, too, because he wants you and me to fall in sin to separate us from God. These things that we read about Jacob are written for our admonition: you cannot mix human reasoning with faith. The admonition of our message is to show that when we use human reasoning to help the Lord bring about His promise, we are going to fall flat on our face to our own shame; the Lords promise will still happen, but to our shame.
In GEN 32:17-20 we read, "And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee? Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob's; [See where he was wrong: the Lord has promised him that his brother will bow to him, yet he is bowing to his brother. The Lord did not require that of him.] it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: [There was not call for Gods dear servant to idolize a worldly man as his lord. He did this out of a pretense of humility to appease.] And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me."
Why all the human reasoning about Esaus acceptance of Jacob when the Lord had promised him such a precious promise, that the Lord would be with him, would bless him, and would make his seed as the stars of heaven? Why was he so concerned that Esau was going to kill him and all of his family? Was he bowing before Esau to appease his own wounded conscience? Where was Jacob's faith? He had just pleaded God's promise: "thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude." (GEN 32:12)
See how unstable water is. If you have been on a ship on the ocean, you see why water is used to illustrate his faith. I was out in the middle of the ocean, and these big ocean swells came up. All of a sudden that ship tipped so far that the captain of the ship actually thought it was going to flip on its side. A ship can be running perfectly flat and get hit by a big ocean swell from the side. An ocean swell does not come like a wind driven wave of the ocean - that is just a straight wave. It is a big mountain of water that appears, and when it goes down on the other side or in the front or in the rear, you are just flipping in every direction.
This is what his faith is compared to: as unstable as water.
We see Jacob's heart bowing unto a man. Jacob had just bowed before the Lord and the Lords promises were just pleaded, now he is bowing to a man. Jesus said, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." (MAT 10:28-29) The Lord Jesus is saying that He is not only able to kill the body, but He is able to kill body and soul. When Esau came, the Lord was able to control him. Jacob did not need to worry about Esau, just be concerned about offending God. "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father," and you are much more valuable than many sparrows. The Lord has promised that Jacob and all his children will become as the stars of heaven, so why is Jacob afraid of Esau? It is unbelief! It was the instability of his faith.
The human reasoning of Jacob ("my Lord Esau," and "thy servant Jacob," and "I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me," V:20) clearly evidences the state of Jacob's heart. The Lord wants the heart and Jacobs problem was instability in his heart.
Even though Jacob had just offered what seemed to be such a prayer of faith, the Apostle James said in JAM 1:7: "For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." There is the lesson for you and me: are we going to come before the Lord and expect to receive His delivering hand? Then we must trust Him and not start conniving like Jacob in trying to bring about what we are asking the Lord to do. Verse 8 says, "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."
In times like these God's dear children do not make the connection between their present circumstances and God's overruling hand until they have weathered a few of these stormy seas, until they have been out in the middle of the sea and have been tossed by the wind and seen how foolish their human reasoning is and how it brings them to nothing. The Lord uses these lessons for the purpose of stabilizing us to understand that what He has promised He is able to perform.
In JAM 1:2-3 we read, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; [When we start coming into trials of our faith, count it as joy.] Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience." That word patience not only means "endurance", but also it means "cheerfully enduring." We do not agonize as though the whole thing depended upon us and that we are not able to do it. We cheerfully endure, believing that what God has promised He is able to perform. Verse 4 says, "But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Do not try to do it for the Lord. When the Lord has promised--endure, wait patiently for the promise "that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
Instead of resting in quiet trust upon the Lord to influence his brother, Jacob took it upon himself to appease his justly offended brother. What was he going to gain for all of his conniving? He was going to gain no more than that "...peradventure he will accept of me." When the Lord promises, His promises are "yea, and Amen" in Christ, but with Jacobs appeasing, he is going to gain a "peradventure," that in his own human reasoning, "maybe this will work." There is nothing sure about it. He said, " peradventure he will accept of me."
Jacobs problem was that the Lord had promised, but his mind was not stayed upon the Lord. In ISA 26:3-4 we read, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee [not in any peradventure or by his own scheming, but he is trusting in what the Lord has said]. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength."
Do you see the lessons we learn from Jacob? These things are recorded of Jacob for our learning. A true biography does not only tell of the wonderful part of a man and all the wonderful things he does; a true biography tells who the man is; it tells of his falls as well as his greatness. We see a true biography of Jacob and it tells of his foolishness and scheming as an admonition to you and me: do not get caught in these things because look what he harvested as the fruit of his foolishness.
True faith can lay hold upon the faithfulness of God. This is what Jacob was lacking. His faith was not purified. He had to have a faith tried as gold and silver in the furnace of affliction, and he had to come through this trial of patience, which was letting patience have its perfect work. As we mature in grace, true faith can lay hold on the faithfulness of God, as we see in ROM 11:29: "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." That means that there is no altering, there is no variableness or shadow of turning in God. When He has spoken it is "yea, and Amen." There is no repentance in His gifts or in His calling.
There is no falling away of those whom God has predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. All those whom God has chosen, all those whom God has predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ, cannot fall away. ROM 8:29 says that you are predestined to be conformed into the image of Christ. " For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Verses 30-31 says, "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" Do you know "who can be against us?" You find yourself to be your own worst enemy in your own stupidity of doing those things that would frustrate the grace of God, but even those things cannot destroy us because the Lord loves His children. We must remember the admonition of children: "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth." He puts us in the furnace and He purges us.
"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (ROM 8: 31-32) Do you think we are going to alter Gods purpose in sending His Son? No. We can bring hell in our life and in our hearts by our stupidity and foolishness, but in the end the Lord says that He will never allow one that He has loved to alter His purpose. Jacob is still going to go to Bethel, but look at the agony he brought upon himself by his unbelief!
We can do nothing to merit God's gifts, neither can we do anything to demerit them. David was a man after Gods own heart; the Lord loved David, and the Lord had said that the throne of David would be an eternal kingdom, which was the throne of Christ. The seed of David remained in the kingdom up until the serving of Christ, but Absalom was slain, and David cried, "Oh, Absalom, my son, my son, would to God I had died for thee." Think of the agony that it brought in Davids life, because the prophet Nathan had told him that the sword would not depart from his house. It brought misery and grief in Davids life because he killed Uriah and took Bathsheba, Uriahs wife, and committed adultery with her. The Lord gave him the fruit of his own sin: his son raped his daughter. His son, Absalom, murdered another of his sons, then came to take the throne away from him, and he had to flee. Nathan had said, "Before this son, they shall take thy wives upon the roof and shall go in unto them." Think of the grief that David brought into his life with his sin, but it did not alter Gods decree. God had decreed that David should have an everlasting kingdom, and that was not altered, but oh, the misery he brought in his life. You and I have to understand that by walking in human reasoning we bring such misery in our lives. We cannot demerit Gods decrees, His promises, or His giving; they are eternally secure.
When God's dear children are not yet made "...meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light," as we see in COL 1:12, when they have not yet become fit in character, He doesn't desert them. Jacob was not yet fit in character and the Lord did not desert him; the Lord put him in the furnace, through the purification process. He deals with them as sons as we see in HEB 12:5-8.
God was teaching Jacob about the swing of the pendulum between ROM 7:18 and PHI 4:13. In Romans, the Apostle Paul said, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." In Philippians, he said that in Christ he could do all things. Jacob was finding the swing of that pendulum: that in his own strength he could not have any refuge from Esau, and in his weakness, in his flesh, in himself, dwelled nothing good. He learned by experience that he does such foolish things. On the one side of the pendulum we see that we are weak, and on the other side that Christ is strong.
Jacob was in great distress. When we start scheming, in order to keep that scheme from falling, we must scheme again or the whole scheme has to fall headlong into the pit. It keeps growing; it keeps gaining momentum until the Lord brings it to a halt.
GEN 32:21-23 say, "So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company. And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok. And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had."
This name Jabbok means, pouring forth, to pour out, to empty. Jacob sent his wives and his children over the brook, "Jabbok," and there he was alone. In his heart Jacob had to put it all on the altar. In his heart and mind he was not able to trust in the Lord; he was not able to trust in the promise of God and so the Lord gave him no consolation in that promise. In his own heart and mind, as far as he was concerned, Esau was going to come and slay the whole family. The Lord allowed him to go through that distress as though it was really going to happen because he would not trust in the Lord. It was an emptying process. The Lord allowed this agony and frustration to come into Jacobs heart to teach him how he had forsaken the foundation of security, which was his faith.
This emptying process is what we see in GEN 32:24: "And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day." All of his herds and all of his flocks and now his wives and his children were sent over the brook, "Jabbok", which means empty, or to pour forth. He had to give it all over. To be left alone with God is an emptying process. When the Lord takes you and I into the furnace, He takes us to where it is between you and the Lord alone. When we stand before Him on the Day of Judgment, we are not going to have a pastor to lean on, we are not going to have a father or a mother to lean on nor some close friend whom we esteem to be some terrific child of God. We are going to stand-alone. It will come to the point that it is just you and God alone. It is such an emptying process. It is to become weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, where it is learned by experience that outside of Christ we are all found wanting. As you and I come alone with God, we find that our best righteousness is but filthy rags. We find that outside of the precious atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ we are of all creatures most miserable. That is the emptying process that God brings His family of Jacob through. No matter what high esteem we have maintained of ourselves, the great question now is, "What does God think of me?" When the Lord takes us apart and sets us by ourselves alone, then reality is, "What does God think of me," not what I think of me.
When God calls us alone, He calls us away from the world, away from everything of self; from human reasoning and all the emotions of our fleshly feelings. That is what is so dangerous about a religion of emotions. I have attended many churches and have found that there are many people that work on your emotions, wanting you to feel good, but feelings do not count. What counts is where we stand before God. Alone with God is where we can get a right evaluation of ourselves. That is when we see what hell-deserving sinners we are and that there is only one hope which is that precious atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is when we find that we have nothing else we can rest upon. Our richest experiences become no foundation at all. It becomes a matter between God and us alone. This is now where Jacob came.
In GEN 32:24 it says, "And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day." As we unfold this, notice that it does not say that Jacob was left alone and he wrestled with a man; it says, "a man [wrestled] with him." There is a great difference there. This man that was wrestling with him was bringing him into the dressing room. That is us by nature: we are going to cling to every bit of righteousness in which we can claim any merit or any basis of hope. Here "wrestled a man with him." Do you know why he was wrestling? He was undressing Jacob, bringing him to the point that he had nothing left to claim.
In HOS 12:4 this "man" is called "the angel" i.e., "the Angel of the Covenant," or the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. When you and I wrestle with the Lord Jesus Christ, all of our garments become as filthy rags; our best righteousness has to be put away because there is only one garment that will ever stand before God which is that perfect robe of Christs righteousness. We come into that dressing room where we are stripped naked and bare. Every sin, thought, and deed now is naked and bare before God. Now all we can say is, "Guilty, guilty, guilty." I can come before the courts in the land as attorney-pro-se, but not before the courts of heaven, because when I come before the courts of heaven as my own attorney, all I can plead is, "Guilty." The accuser of the brethren comes in and says, "You have done this, and that was your attitude, and that was your thought, and this was why you did that," and all I can say is, "Guilty, guilty, guilty." But now we have an advocate with the Father, which is Jesus Christ the Righteous. That word advocate means a legal representative, in other words, my attorney. He comes before the courts of heaven and He presents my case. He raises His right hand and He shows the Father my name written there. My sins have all been satisfied in His perfect atonement. Do you see why we need to have Him wrestle with us? It is to strip us of everything of self. Then that legal representative comes and presents our case and He shows that every sin has now been atoned for and has been satisfied. Now justice demands my acquittal. That is why I cannot come before the courts of heaven as attorney-pro-se: I have to have that advocate with the Father, which is Jesus Christ the Righteous. It has to be Jesus Christ the Righteous because if He had to account for one sin of His own, He could not account for mine. He is the righteous judge.
In GEN 32:30 it says, "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." Who was that man? That man that he wrestled with was the Lord Jesus Christ: "for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."
It is very important that we understand what Scripture says in verse 24: "there wrestled a Man with him." It was not that Jacob was wrestling with that man and prevailed over that man and obtained a blessing because Jacob was such a wrestler. That man wrestled with Jacob. Jacob, like Peter, was too strong in himself; that is what brought on the wrestling match. Jacob is like you and I by nature: so strong in ourselves. We have to be subdued; we have to be overcome and brought into subjection. We have to be emptied; we have to cross that brook, "Jabbok" and go through that emptying process until we have nothing left of our own strength. Jacob, like Peter, could always scheme a way to prevail, and that is how you and I are by nature. By nature we are not going to come totally naked before God if we have one claw of a fingernail left to hang onto anything to keep for ourselves, to come guilty before God. That is an emptying process.
This man was sent to reduce Jacob to a realization of his nothingness in human strength, but also to teach him wherein his strength lay. We are never going to truly rest upon the strength of God until we have had our strength eliminated.
Jacob must learn what Paul learned, which we see recorded in 2CO 12:10: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." When all of our human strength has been taken away in that dressing room, then we understand, "for when I am weak, then am I strong." Look how strong Jacob could be if he could truly stand upon the promises of God instead of on his own schemes.
This man wrestled with Jacob until the breaking of day, until God emptied Jacob of all his own wisdom and craftiness. It comes down to the last minute, the breaking of day, when Esau was coming. This man was still undressing Jacob all night long. Through the entire dark siege of his experience, through this whole hour of darkness, it was a continual undressing process. The man was still wrestling with Jacob. The Lord could have done as He did with the Apostle Paul with the flip of a light - but Jacob was a schemer. Every one of Gods dear people have their own personality and character and the Lord uses just exactly the right medicine for each one. Jacob needed a heavy dose. He was a professional schemer and the Lord was going to bring his scheming to an end. God allowed him to exhaust all his own strength to stabilize a saint who was "driven with the wind and tossed."
In GEN 32:25 we read, "And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him." The wrestling match became all one-sided. All of his resistance had to end because a wrestlers strength is not in his legs or in his arms. A wrestlers strength is in his thighs, and he touched his thigh so that it was out of joint, and the sinew of his thigh shrank. That ended all resistance. He was becoming prepared to stand before Esau. Do you know why? He had no strength left in himself.
With but a simple touch of the finger of God, Jacob was rendered totally helpless before the Lord. This is how the Lord stabilizes His dear children. When you and I have everything stripped away, and all our human reasoning, we have only one place left to go, and that is to fall upon the Lord. Then we become stable. Our scheming and all of our human reasoning is put to an end. "For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." (JAM 1:6-7) You and I are not going to have a sure foundation upon which to rest as long as we are still scheming in our strength and in our own wisdom: as long as we are still scheming like old Jacob.
As long as Jacob could waffle between his own scheming and the help of the Lord he could not receive anything from the Lord, but after the Lord had "touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint," he became, as we read in SON 8:5: "Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?" All he had left was to cling to the Lord Jesus Christ. All he could do now was hang on and cling to that man that wrestled with him, who had stripped him of everything of his own strength. All he had left was to lean upon his beloved. His wisdom and all his scheming had come to naught. After Jacob's sinew shrank he could only lean upon and cling unto His God. All his human wisdom had become foolishness. He saw he was dependent upon the Lord. There is not a more blessed place to be than to have our sinew shrunk, that our wrestling is done, and that in so doing, we come to an unconditional surrender before the Lord. That is what we learn from Jacob.
In GEN 32:26 we read, "And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." Jacob could not let go. He had been stripped naked. He had nothing else left. All he could rely was theblessing of the Lord, which the Lord had already promised.
Now Jacob for the first time began to realize what it was to walk by faith instead of by sight. He could not let go; it was all he had left. He was no longer able to walk by sight. He needed that blessing to walk by faith. Walking by faith is one of the greatest blessings the Lord gives His people. When they are absolutely stripped of all human reasoning so that they are no longer able to connive and scheme, they come to where they only have one hope and one foundation left: "except thou bless me." The blessing that God had promised becomes his foundation.
We see in GEN 32:28: "And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." It is important that we understand the meaning of these words to understand the Gospel message and the names. This new name Israel means, God commandeth. Jacob must lay all his wisdom aside and start obeying and walking under the command of God; he must do what God tells him. That is the turning point. When the Lord has stripped us of everything of our own self, our own self-reasoning, and has brought us into that dressing room, and put us out with that robe of Christ, it brings us into that kingdom of God. This name points to God's governing the nation of Israel, and the nation of Israel is symbolic of the true believer. Jacob's new beginning was to enter the kingdom of God, to start serving the Lord and no longer serve his own scheming wisdom.
When Israel asked for a king the Lord told Samuel, as we see in 1SA 8:7: "And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them." It was a grievous sin that the children of Israel asked for a king, because the Lord was their governor; He is the one who rules over them. If you and I understand what that is, to be a true Israelite indeed, one who is truly under the governing of God, then we do not want another king, we do not want to have human reasoning as our leader.
Jacob had contended with God and man and had prevailed. I heard a man say that Gods children are just like his family: with one all it takes is a frown and they are in tears; with another you cannot discipline them enough to break them; it just seems like the harder you whip them the more stubborn they get. He said Gods children are that way, too. Now let us think about Jacob: he has contended with God and man and prevailed he got his way. He contended for the birthright and prevailed it took a little scheming, but he got it. He contended for the blessing from Isaac and prevailed that took a little more scheming, but he got it. He contended with Laban and prevailed. He had contended with man and prevailed, and Scripture says, "And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." (GEN 32:28) He prevailed again. The commentators say he lost this match, but the Scriptures say he prevailed.
Let us see what the Scriptures say in what way he prevailed. When he became weak in himself he became strong and had power with God. He prevailed over the power of sin. He was like the Apostle Paul who said that when he was weak, he was strong. He said, "thou [hast] power with God." How did he have power with God? As we see in PHI 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." How did he prevail? He prevailed by being stripped of all his wisdom, all his conniving, all his scheming, and being stripped in that dressing room as the man wrestled with him. He prevailed in that he no longer had to scheme to win his war with Esau; he now had become strong in the Lord and had "power with God." He was delivered from the power of prevailing sins and made strong in his God.
Look at what we read in TIT 2:13-14: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity [That is where he prevailed: he was redeemed from all his iniquity.], and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
I have heard a lot of people talk about redemption. Christ is our Redeemer and you hear Him talked of as the Redeemer in that He saved His people from hell. This is true, but it is only part of the truth. Before He saved us from hell, He redeemed us from our iniquity! Until we have been redeemed from our iniquity, we have not been redeemed from anything. What happens is "that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
Where was Jacob now the victor? Where did he prevail? He prevailed over his iniquity. The word iniquity means unjust dealings with our brother. He has now been redeemed from this. He does not have to be a schemer and conniver any more. He will now be "a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
When Jacob wrestled with God the powerful part of his prayer was, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." (GEN 32:26) He wrestled with God all night and what is recorded of his prayer is in this verse, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." Wherein lay his blessing? In GEN 32:31 we see his blessing. "And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh." That teaches you and me that it was not a temporary victory that he had over being strong in himself: it was permanent. His blessing was that he could no longer set one foot in front of the other; he had to halt and then take the other foot and go forward - every step of his life. That was to teach him that he could not take one step without remembering that dressing room for the rest of his life. That is where he was blessed.
You and I by nature are like Esau. Esau is a type of the harlot church. We read in MAL 1:2-3a: "I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau. " How do we see Gods hatred for Esau? Esau is the type of the harlot church, and Gods hatred is revealed in that He allowed Esau to go on struggling in his own strength.
Wherein did He love Jacob? He loved him in that He took him into that dressing room and He undressed him and touched the hollow of his thigh.
Wherein did He hate Esau? MAL 1:4 says, "Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down " The blessing of Jacob was that he was brought into that dressing room, and that his thigh was out of joint, and he was no longer able to build in his own strength. He was brought to where he was building on the foundation of faith. "I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother?"
God let Esau go on to his own destruction. God's love for Jacob was revealed in GEN 32:24-25: "And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him." That was his blessing, and that is the blessing that you and I have if we are truly children of God, and the Lord undresses us of everything of self and brings us to where all our strength is in Him. We see Christ formed in you, the hope of glory. Amen.
These on-lines sermons are a ministry of Gospel Chapel located in Conrad, Montana. We also have a daily devotion. For a list of sermons on cassette please visit our on-line tape catalog. See also, our sermon notes.