Genesis 32 … Consider Him Who Wrestles

Jacob is following God’s command and returning to the land of his father, and God sends His angels to meet and encourage Jacob of His presence, (32:1-2).

Jacob makes his plans to appease his brother, but is absolutely terrified of what the end result may be. “Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed,” (32:7). Jacob acknowledges his unworthiness and God’s lovingkindness, prays for deliverance, and once again admits his fear, (32:9-11). Then he reminds the LORD of what He said, For You said, ‘I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered,’” (32:12).

Up to this point, all his actions and even his prayers are driven by fear. But then, Jacob comes face to face with God and wrestles with Him all night, refusing to let go until he receives His blessing. Jacob was “greatly afraid and distressed,” of his brother, a mere man, but bold enough to grab hold and wrestle with God. “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved,” (32:30). Desperation sometimes generates bravery!

God had demonstrated His lovingkindness to Jacob; He had prospered him and had communicated His purpose for Jacob and his descendants. Jacob experienced His lovingkindness through what the Lord had accomplished and what He had promised. But Jacob was still walking in fear. In his desperation, he grabbed hold of God and God allowed Jacob to strive with Him all night.

Why did God touch Jacob’s socket to leave him with a forever limp? Perhaps, as a result, Jacob understood that with just one touch he could have been annihilated, but was spared. Was the Lord reminding Jacob through this wrestling match, that His lovingkindness is tangible; that since God not only allowed him to survive, but also blessed him, Jacob had no need to walk in fear? We may be left with some questions, but as we consider Him in Genesis 32, may we be changed and strengthened by the encounter.

Consider Him Who Wrestles

  1. He allows us to strive with Him. Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak… Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.’ But he said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me,’” (32:24, 26).
  2. He touches us, so as to impart a perpetual impact that is far reaching. “When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him… Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. 32 Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip,” (32:25, 31-32).
  3. He changes us. “So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ 28 He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed,’” (32:27-28).
  4. He blesses us. Then Jacob asked him and said, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And he blessed him there,” (32:29).

How do we respond to Him Who Wrestles?

  1. Let us deliberately strive to recount the tangible displays of His lovingkindness. Reminding ourselves of His promises strengthen our weary and fear-filled souls. We are invited to come and cling to Him. He will not turn us away. Situations, circumstances, pain, loss, illness; all these threaten to loosen our grip. It’s a wrestling match to cling, to refuse to let go until He blesses. But because of Jesus, we can have the confidence to do so.
    • Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need, (Hebrews 4:16).
  2. Striving sometimes hurts; we sometimes get put out of joint. And though we strive to love Him and become more like Him, this life leaves us with scars. I love the words I heard from one of my Bible Study Fellowship teachers, “Scars are our family resemblance.” And if we resemble Jesus, His impact through us will be far reaching. Let us not let go, even when it hurts!
    • For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, (Philippians 1:29).
  3. Jacob’s name was changed. In the Hebrew culture a name represented the one bearing that name. Jacob was changed from one who supplants and deceives (even in his preparations to meet up with Esau, we see him conniving and scheming) to one who strives with God, one who refuses to let go until he’s blessed. If we have placed our faith in Christ, He has changed us. Let us hold on by faith, striving against the voice of the accuser while clinging to the truth: we have been changed!
    • Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come, (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  4. He blesses us. When Jacob asks His name, this answer comes, “Why do you ask my name?” Was He saying like He said to Philip,
    • “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” (John 14:9).

What greater possible blessing is there than to know the Father by faith, to see Him as He has revealed Himself in His Son and in His Word? Let us take hold of His truth and not be swayed by doubt. Let us strive to stand strong in what we know, that which He has promised in His Word and has accomplished in our world.

May we be content to leave our questions with Him, trusting, that in His time and way, we will receive all the answers we need. In the meantime, may we walk in faith; faith always prevails over fear!

Let’s Grow Together!

Genesis 31 … Consider His Providence

Providence: “the foreseeing care and guidance of God over the creatures of the earth; God, omnisciently directing the universe and affairs of humankind with wise benevolence; a manifestation of divine care or direction.”

Distrust and deception underscore much of the action in Genesis 31. Jacob’s brothers-in-law are suspicious of him, (31:1).

His father-in-law mistreats him; though serving him for twenty years, Jacob is swindled ten times, (31:4-7), and Jacob once again resorts to his default mode of deception. “And Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was fleeing,” (31:20).

Jacob, convinced he was trapped, responds out of fear. “Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done by deceiving me and carrying away my daughters like captives of the sword? 27 Why did you flee secretly and deceive me,…’ 31 Then Jacob replied to Laban, ‘Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force,’” (31:26-27, 31).

And Rachel steals her father’s idols, perhaps convinced if she take matters into her own hands, all will go well, (31:19).

Our circumstances can often leave us fearful and wondering if God is even there. All too often we find ourselves feeling trapped and tempted to take control by whatever means. But His Providence is Perfect! His guidance and direction are ever-present and ever-benevolent.

Consider His Providence

His Providence was revealed through Jacob’s circumstances, both the good and the bad.

So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah… and said to them, “I see your father’s attitude, that it is not friendly toward me as formerly, but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength. Yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times; however, God did not allow him to hurt me,’” (31:4-7).

His Providence was revealed through His Word, with commands and promises.

Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you… for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth,” (31:3, 12-13).

How are we to respond to His Providence?

No matter the circumstances we find ourselves in, let us trust His Providence, in the good times, and the bad. He is faithful and ever with us, providing His guidance and care.

  • In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider—God has made the one as well as the other… (Ecclesiastes 7:14).
  • but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Corinthians 15:57).
  • Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; (Psalm 23:4).

Let us not allow our circumstances, whether good or bad, to direct our lives, rather let us intentionally seek His direction from His Word as we trust His Providence.

  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, (Psalm 119:105).
  • “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you,” (Psalm 32:8).
  • Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, (Psalm 25:4-5).

Let us grow in our love for Him and in our resolve to obey His commands with gratitude and awareness of His Providence

  • “You shall therefore love the Lord your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments,” (Deuteronomy 11:1).
  • “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” (John 14:15).

Let us trust His Providence towards us, refuse to take matters into our own hands, and leave the results, outcomes and judgments to Him.

  •  “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had not been for me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, so He rendered judgment last night,” (Genesis 31:42).
  • What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:31).
  • For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations, (Psalm 100:5).

Let’s Grow Together!

Genesis 30 … Consider His Constancy

Constancy: “the quality of being faithful and dependable; the quality of being enduring and unchanging; steadfastness, as in purpose or affection; faithfulness.”

Did Genesis 30 stir up more questions than answers about behavior and motives? Just in the first three verses we see jealousy, anger, pride and manipulation. Just a few verses later the sibling rivalry is out of control. And ultimately Jacob is hired out in the bedroom! It certainly doesn’t paint a very flattering picture of the condition of man.

But God’s Word is never intended to flatter; His Word is truth and when we place our faith in Him and His Word, we are changed. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth,” (John 17:17).

It’s truly impossible to explain how the LORD works through the free will of sinful man. But He does. Though the world around us is unstable and unpredictable, He is not. He is faithful and dependable. He is enduring and unchanging. He is steadfast in His purpose and His affection.

Consider His Constancy

His Constancy is conveyed through His Nature. The Lord is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, Who is enthroned on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth?” (Psalm 113:4-6).

His Constancy is conveyed through His Name. “But You, O Lord, abide forever, and Your name to all generations,” (Psalm 102:12).

His Constancy is conveyed through His Word.So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it,” (Isaiah 55:11).

His Constancy is conveyed through His Will. “Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure,’ ” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

How can we respond to His Constancy?

In this world, it is easy is to become fixated on events rather than fixing our eyes on Him. At times, the chaos and confusion, the evil and injustice threaten to consume not only our thoughts, but also our hope.

Sometimes it is challenging to see Him in the midst of it all. We see our fears rather than His Faithfulness; our mess rather than His Might; our worry rather than His Wonder; our stuff rather than His Sovereignty; the evil one rather than the Exalted One. When life seems to be hurling out of control, remember His Constancy.

When we don’t understand, when overwhelmed by life’s insanity, we must hold on to Who He is: His Nature and Name, and what He has promised: His Word and His Will. We will find comfort and clarity in His Constancy.

Let us consider, contemplate and cling to His Constancy:

Conveyed through His Nature: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” (Hebrews 13:8).

Conveyed through His Name: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe;”  “Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forever,” (Proverbs 18:10; Psalm 113:2).

Conveyed through His Word: Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away,” (Matthew 24:45).

Conveyed through His Will: “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;… ‘Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth,’ ” (Psalm 46:2, 10).

Let us pray that we are strengthened and changed as we cling to and rest in His Constancy; He is faithful and dependable; He is enduring and unchanging; He is steadfast in His purpose and His affection.

Let’s Grow Together!

Genesis 29 … Consider Him Who Opens

Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb…  Leah conceived and bore a son, (29:31-32).

The LORD, moved by Leah’s pitiable condition, opens her womb. Many questions flooded my head as I considered Genesis 29, but one thing resounded loud and clear, it was the LORD Who opened; and as a result, Leah conceived and bore a son. When God Opens, it is certain His handiwork, His will and His purposes will bring forth results.

Consider Him Who Opens

  1. He Opens eyes and ears blinded by sin: “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped,” (Isaiah 35:5).
  2. He Opens eyes to the Way of Salvation; “And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.16 But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness…18to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me,’” (Acts 26:15-18).
  3. He Opens the Gates of Righteousness: “Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the Lord,” (Psalm 118:19).
  4. He Opens eyes to behold His Truth: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law,”(Psalm 119:18).
  5. He Opens minds to understand the Scriptures: “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,” (Luke 24:45).
  6. He Opens eyes of faith to witness His Miraculous Provision: “Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’  And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha,” (2 Kings 6:17).
  7. He Opens prison doors to set the captives free: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,” (Luke 4:18).
  8. He opens doors that we might share the Gospel: “praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ…” (Colossians 4:3).
  9. He Opens the blessings of obedience: “’and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows,’” (Malachi 3:10).
  10. What He Opens no one will shut! “He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut,” (Revelations 3:7).

How then shall we respond to Him Who Opens?

Today, let us be intentional to carefully consider what He alone Opens, then personally and honestly examine ourselves for the evidence of our surrender.

  1. Have our eyes and ears been opened to our need of salvation? If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us,” (1 John 1:8).
  2. Have we taken His Way of Salvation, opened only through His Son, Jesus?  Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,’” (John 14:6).
  3. Are we relying on our own righteousness to enter His presence, or solely depending, through faith, on His provision to open His way of righteousness? and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,” (Philippians 3:9).
  4. Do we have a hunger to have our minds opened to behold His Truth? “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied,” (Matthew 5:6).
  5. Are we depending on His Holy Spirit to open our understanding? “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth,” (John 16:13).
  6. Are we more influenced by what we see with our physical eyes then what is opened to our eyes by faith? Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage,” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
  7. Do we attempt to free ourselves from bondage, or depend on Him to open the door to freedom? “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).
  8. Are we asking for open doors and boldness to share the Gospel? and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,” (Ephesians 6:19).
  9. Are we surrendering our will, our service and lives to Him, trusting Him to open the blessings of obedience? All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 28:2).
  10. Are we walking in confidence that what He Opens, no one can shut? “Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut,” (Revelation 3:8).

The above is by no means an exhaustive list, and perhaps the LORD will open our eyes to see even more! Whatever He reveals, let us be moved to respond in obedience, and be filled with awe and gratitude for Him Who Opens!

Let’s Grow Together!