THE LAST CHAPTER
Cheaters Never Win, Part 2
Job once declared, “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.” Job 3:25
Danish philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard wrote that God brings every man to a crisis point in his life where he must decide who he will worship: himself or God.
We see both manifested in the man, Jacob. God is orchestrating events in his life to bring him to the end of himself and to the reality of a life fully surrendered to God.
The truth is that God is working to do the same thing in all of us. He is breaking us so that He can bless us. The great revivalist G. Campbell Morgan called Jacob’s experience “The Crippling that Crowns”.
Back story: As we saw last week, Jacob had deceived his father and cheated his brother. Fleeing from the revenge of Esau, Jacob journeyed to his extended family home in Haran. On the way he had his first encounter with God. He saw an open heaven, angels on a ladder, and God appeared to him and renewed the promise of Abraham to him. Jacob built and altar and called the place “The House of God”.
In the chapters that would follow, Genesis 29-31, Jacob works for his uncle and future father-in-law, Laban, a man just as devious as Jacob. He meets and marries two wives, has several children, manages to effectively steal Laban’s livestock through some unusual breeding techniques, and then sneaks away in the night to return home under God’s direction and protection.
Laban and his army pursue him. Esau gets word he is coming to meet him and Esau pursues him with his 400 mighty men. Jacob is stick “between a rock and a hard place.”
God intervenes and Jacob and Laban make peace, but the fear of Esau fills Jacob and he is terrified Esau will kill him and his family. In this context Jacob has his second encounter with God at the Jabbock.
TEXT Genesis 32
1 So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
2 When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is God’s camp.” And he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
God is letting Jacob know that that He has not deserted him. He is with him on this difficult journey.
Jacob takes all his goods and divides them into two camps, hoping to preserve at least some of his treasures. He then takes his family to a place of safety and retreats alone to the Jabbock, a tributary of the Jordan. Jabbock means “emptying” and God tonight will empty Jacob of all his self-sufficiency and replace it with His divine power.
24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.
Being alone is often the prayer room that brings us in God’s Presence. British essayist Walter Savage Landor said that “Solitude is the audience chamber of God.”
We will see that this is Jesus Himself. They wrestled all night. How many times have we wrestled with God, sometimes all night?
25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.
26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
Jesus is quite capable of crushing Jacob physically. This is a spiritual battle for Jacob’s soul. Jesus will not wrestle with us forever.
Genesis 6:3a And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh...”
Jesus sensed no change in Jacob, but then, a cry of desperation. “I cannot make it without you.”
Psalms 34:6 This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.
27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”
God wants us to see who we are, what we are and where we are. He asked in the Garden, “Adam, where are you?” He wanted Adam to know where Adam was! Jacob admitted, maybe for the first time, that he was a schemer, a scoundrel, a wicked man who sought to do things his own way.
He had struggled against man from the very day of his birth. Now he realizes it was God he was fighting against all the time.
In salvation God deals with our sin. Here, God is dealing with our self. Paul: O wretched man that I am. Isaiah: I am a man of unclean lips.
But there is good news coming!
28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
The ‘tricky one’ is now a ‘prince with God’!
29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.
Jacob knew it was Jesus. We see that on the next verse. I don’t know why he asked. Perhaps he needed assurance and confirmation.
30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
31 Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.
Everyone that had been touched by God walks with a limp. We have been broken by God to be used by God. God crushes to powder those He chooses for great things. God crushes us through weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Pastor Warren Wiersbe of Moody Church observed, “During that dark night of the soul, Jacob discovered that he had spent all his life fighting God and resisting His will, and that the only way to victory was through surrender.” A. W. Tower said, “The Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him.”
Have you been wrestling with God? W. E. Vine writes, “The circumstances of your life and the complications of your life are nothing more than God wrestling with you. Hold on to God and He will bless you!”
CLOSING Jim Standridge story