Jacob: Used by God
He had come through his broken moment with a promise from the Most High God. All the nations of the world would be blessed through his seed. His descendants would be greater in number than the stars.
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Twenty years had passed since that night but already he could see evidence of God working in his life. He had 11 sons and at least one daughter. He was now a wealthy man. He had male and female servants, cattle, donkey, sheep, goats …
For a time he had been comfortable living with his father-in-law Laban, but now the situation had changed. God was showing him that it was time to move on.
It seems that Jacob’s life was filled with ups and downs:
One minute he was second in line to inherit from a very wealthy man. Next minute he was on the run for his life.
One minute he was moments away from being married to the love of his life, next minute he was married to her sister.
One minute he was favored by his father-in-law, next minute he was being accused of stealing his wealth.
Yet throughout his life, we see God’s hand guiding him and molding him in spite of the things he did contrary to God’s will.
Jacob: Twice Broken
We are told in Genesis 32:1 that the angels of the Lord met Jacob as he journeyed towards home. Yet, when the spies returned with the news that his brother Esau was coming with 400 men he automatically feared the worse (Genesis 32:6-7).
He made plans to protect himself. This plan involved putting the people he loved at the forefront of the battle while he stayed behind where it was “safe” (Genesis 32:8). Then he prayed for deliverance.
Let me highlight that in case you missed it:
- He interpreted the situation based on his wisdom (Genesis 32:7).
- He made a plan to save himself (Genesis 32:8).
- Then he prayed for deliverance (Genesis 32:9-12).
- After which he enacted the plan that he had come up with (Genesis 32:13-21).
Oh, my word! Jacob lived my life. There are so many times that I interpret things based on my own feeble knowledge. I know exactly how to save myself and so I do what I think is best. Crying out to God is the last thing I do instead of the first.
Have you ever done that? Have you ever asked God for help, and without waiting for His answer you went and did what you thought was best?
What’s really ironic though is that the fight came to Jacob. When he was all by himself, a man showed up and they wrestled until dawn (Genesis 32:24). Isn’t it funny how we don’t have the strength to fight our physical battles but we have the strength to fight with God? How amazing that God does not treat us as our sin deserves!
Jacob recognized, even in sleep, that there was something significant about this man. “I will not let you go until you bless me!” he cried (Genesis 32:26). Even though he had been wounded and must have been in terrible pain (as anyone who’s ever had a joint pop can testify), he would not let go.
Jacob was physically broken but he realized that the only way out was through the blessing of God. Jacob received his blessing and an answer to his prayer:
“Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
No longer would he be called Jacob – “holder of the heel” – the one who is holding on to his brother and preventing him from moving forward or going as fast as he could.
He would not be the “supplanter” – the one trying to take the place of someone else through force or trickery and scheming.
He would now be Israel – the one who prevailed with God and was triumphant. He cried out to the Lord so earnestly that God gave him the desires of his heart.
The confidence that came from putting his faith in God gave him a new plan. One that allowed him to put himself between his family and the danger that lay ahead (Genesis 33:1-3).
Sometimes, like Jacob, we have to hold on to Jesus and tell Him that we’re not going to let go until He blesses us. God gave him the victory over Esau and He wants to do the same thing in our lives.
Personal Bible Study
Read Genesis 32:1-32.
What lessons can we learn from Jacob?
Do you see any similarities between your life and his?
Pray and ask God to create in you a new heart, a clean one that can worship and honor and adore and give Him all the praise.