Book of Genesis
Verse: Eph 6:12
Jacob finds himself in dire straits. He is a man with four
wives, twelve children, many animals, and servants. He can not go back to his
father-in-law’s home. He can not easily enter into his home land because he
can not slip in with all his possession unbeknown to Esau. Reality sets in and
he realizes he is helpless.
Although it has been over 20 years Jacob remembered that
Esau planned to kill him for his deceptive acts. He must now face his brother
Esau. Jacob has no place to turn.
Some Points to Ponder:
When we have disagreements with our family, friends, and
brothers and sisters within the local church body, why is it so important to not
allow these grievances and disagreements to remain?
Does appeasing someone we have offended with gifts relieve
us of blame? Does appeasement removes any obligations on our part to restore
Is it necessary for Christians to get alone with God and
wrestle as did Jacob?
What was significant about changing Jacob’s name to
Comes Face To Face With His Past,
No matter where we may run, or how hard we try, we can not
escape from the errors of our past. As long as those errors remain they will
haunt us. What we must do is stop and face them. That is the only way we will be
When the children of Israel were ready to enter the
Promised Land, the tribe of Ruben and Gad wanted to stay on the other side of
Jordan. They would go and help conquer the land, and afterwards they would
settle down on this side of Jordan. Moses told the tribes that if they failed to
honor their vows, there was one thing for certain: Their sins would find them
So will ours. Our sins know exactly where we are and we
know exactly where are sins our: they are with us, Psa 32:1-5.
King David was well aware that his transgression was with him continually. There
was no place to run to get rid of it except to the Lord, Ps. 38:1-22.
This is where Jacob finds himself, face to face with a deed committed twenty
years ago. His sin is about to find him.
Jacob Sought Esau.
Jacob sought to elevate Esau by calling him ‘lord,’ v.
Three time Jacob referred to Esau as lord. Four time Jacob
referred to himself as a servant. Jacob was trying to elevate Esau while
debasing himself. What would have meant more to Jacob and to Esau was for Jacob
Diplomacy was not one of Jacob’s attributes, Prov
Solomon tells us that it is easier to conquer a city than
it is to win back an offended brother. Why is this? Why is it easier to raise
the flag of victory upon the walls of a conquered city than it is to humble our
hearts and apologize to our brother?
What we seldom realize is that in order to raise the flag
in victory someone else has to either die or surrender to our dominating display
of power. In our quest for victory we will destroy all hope of mending the
Contentions between brothers, Esau and Jacob, whether in
our church family or in the immediately family, divide. In just a matter of time
family members choose sides and before long, a family feud has erupted. Often
the weapons of our strife may be our tongues and, in extreme cases, blood may be
shed. After all, was it not those from His own household that had the Saviour
Many times we allow some little word, some little action,
or even good intentions to be taken out of context. Sometimes we are the
offender and sometimes we are the offended one. Once the injustice has begun, we
allow it to take root in our hearts. Contention is the only thing known to man
that has the ability to thrive in stone. Once contentions imbeds itself in a
heart of stone, they grow to be stronger than the bars of a castle.
There are only two forces in the universe that can move
these bars imbedded in a heart of stone. One is a forgiving spirit, and the
other is the Lord. If we continue to allow contention to grow, and if we do not
dissolve this stone and rid our life of it, Jesus just may have to become a
stone mason and chip the stone away little by little or just blow the stone up
with a blast and start all over with the little pieces.
One thing is certain: there will be no fruit of the spirit
growing in a heart of stone. Luke 6:45.
The Messengers Return, v. 6. Jacob sent out his
ambassadors to find Esau and make a peace offering. They return but the message
they deliver is not one Jacob wanted to hear.
If Jacob believed that Esau was going to forget the past,
the army seemed to dispel that concept.
Esau has an army of over 400 men.
What does Jacob have at his command? Just a few women and
Jacob is afraid and divides his company.
He acts out of fear instead of faith, Rom 14:23.
Any one with any military of police training will tell you that fear is
contagious and it must be squelched immediately. When an army acts out of fear,
the decisions made are usually costly.
United we stand. Divided we fall. It is OK to divide, but
first we must multiply. Jacob divided his family. His thoughts are that if one
party is attacked the other may escape. What is sad about all of this is the
fact that Jacob acted before he prayed. Furthermore, his prayer was not one of
forgiveness, but was rather one of deliverance. Jacob wanted God to deliver him
from the threat of Esau without Jacob having to ask Esau to forgive him.
Jacob’s Prayer, v. 9-12.
Jacob’s prayer is one of asking God to do something for
him. Jacob has yet to ask God what is it I can do for you? Jacob referred to the
Lord as the Lord of his fathers. Is not he the God of Jacob as well?
Reminded God of the covenant, v. 9.
Jacob reminded the Lord that he left the house of Laban
because the Lord told him it was time to return. He conveniently pleaded his
case that should something happen to the mother and the children, that the
promises of God would become null and void. He is about 97 years old at this
time and in a few years another son will be born to him. He is almost as old as
Abraham was when Isaac was born.
Still no forgiveness on the part of Jacob. Still no
confession that he lied to his father Isaac when he stole the blessing. This
prayer is very narrow-minded and selfish.
Humbled himself before God, v. 10
As near he comes to confessing is when he states that he
is unworthy of any blessings, but he has yet to say that he is sorry for his
He has yet to apologize for not paying his vows made to
the Lord twenty years ago.
He is even so bold as to tell the Lord that by the power
of his staff he passed over Jordan, and now, he has divided his household into
To hear him tell it, he has done all this by himself.
Naturally we ask then why is he bothering to pray, if Jacob is doing it all.
Just what is it he expects God to do?
Asked God for deliverance, v. 11.
The reason he prays is because right now he is definitely
afraid of his Esau. He was not afraid when he deceived him into selling him the
birth right. Fear did not bother him when he lied to Isaac. Now he fears. Fear
is something that can not be fought with physical abilities. We must fight fear
with courage, neither or which have physical attributes.
For the past 20 years Jacob has not had to face his
brother. Esau did not come looking for Jacob. Jacob did not really come looking
for Esau. Esau was just some thing that Jacob could not avoid. Before Jacob
could lay hold on the family blessings, he must first face Esau. That was why he
prayed. He needed God to get the blessing.
Again reminds God of the promised blessings, v. 12.
Jacob Sought To Appease Esau, v. 14-20.
After his prayer of deliverance Jacob decided to do what
every man does that relies on self for self preservation. He decided to appease
Esau with the works of his hands.
He believed that if he gave him a large enough present it
would put some salve on the sore between them.
He is willing to try and buy a little peace of mind. He
has not realized that all he must do is humble his heart and he could have all
the peace of mind he wanted. It is easier to appease than it is to humble self
Lord Wrestles With Jacob, v.
22-32. The Right Battle – the
Battle before the Battle
Here is one of those great events, that when read about,
we wonder just why the God of Creation could wrestle with some one and not
overcome them with the twitching of a finger? Why would God spend all night
wrestling with a man that is about 97 years old? Why would a man 97 years old
want to wrestle all night?
There is not one answer to these questions but several.
One answer lies in the fact that God used Jacob as an illustration for us, Rom
15:4. Jacob is old by our standards, but still physically strong and
independent of God. He has not bothered to seek forgiveness, but still expects
the blessing. Does this sound familiar?
Jacob could have saved himself a weary night by a simple
act of humility. If we would just humble our hearts and let go of those things
that hinder our relationship, the blessing of the Lord would be at our beck and
Jacob Is Alone With God, v. 24.
Jacob’s company is divided into two band. They passed
over the brook and Jacob is left alone. This is the first time in 20 years that
he has been alone with God. He is right where he was when he left home years
ago. It was when he was alone with God that he had a vision, but no earthly
possession; he was running from Esau, and now he faces Esau. He again has no
possessions at hand, but has God at hand.
That this was a literal physical wrestling match between
man and Creator is no doubt. However, it is also a spiritual battle between
Creator and creation. The creation was not willing to be subdued or come under
subjection of its Creator. Before the night is over, the Creator must inflict
bodily pain to His creation.
Jacob divested himself of his possessions, but held on to
his pride and strength, v. 23-24.
If Jacob feared for the safety of his family, as he told
the Lord, v. 11, then why did he spend the night away from them? This was not
rational and the decision was most likely made in fear. Jacob was along and away
from family and the earthly possession wherein he labored under the hand of
Laban. However, there are a couple of things he will not let go of and they are
his strength and pride.
God wanted him to get rid of all things that stood between
them. Jacob wanted to come to God on Jacob’s terms. This mode and method that
Jacob uses is still much in vogue today.
Christians must get alone with God and allow Him to show
us what we are holding on to that prevents Him from blessing us.
There comes a time in the lives of each Christian when we
must get alone with God and do some serious soul searching. We must remove self
apart from family and possessions and determine just what are the most important
things in our lives. It is in times such as these when we must let go and let
God do a work in us.
Born again children of God are aware they have some
blessings coming to them. They are not ashamed to remind God when their
blessings are overdue. They come boldly to the throne of grace in spite of how
they treat their brothers and sisters in the church. Some can not understand why
God has withheld power and prestige from them. Other do not hide their face in
shame when the seek a financial blessing even though they fail to give to God
what is already His. Some of us are even ready to wrestle a blessing from God
just as did Jacob. We do act much like Jacob.
The Man Wrestled With Jacob, v. 24.
There are two ways to look at this event. One way is to
say that Jacob held on to the Lord until he got the blessing. The other way to
look at it is that God had to bring Jacob to a place where Jacob must solely
depend on him. Jacob fought the Lord so hard and long and the heart of Jacob was
so determined, that the Lord had to strike Jacob in the heart of his strength
before Jacob would let go and simply cling to the Lord. The latter of these two
views is the more prominent and is the view this lesson takes.
For a 97 year old man willing to wrestle with the Lord all
night, one question naturally comes to mind: “Why was he afraid of Esau?”
Why would Jacob wrestle with the Lord all night, his Creator, and be afraid to
humble his heart and confess his sin to his brother? There is not but one
The Man that wrestled with him was the Lord, Hos.
12:3-4. Hosea verified that the man that wrestled with Jacob was
The Lord had to bring Jacob to a place where He could use
Jacob wrestled in the flesh against what he first thought
was flesh. Refusing to surrender, he held on to the angel of the Lord. After he
refused to let go, the Lord touched him in the hollow of his thigh, and with all
his strength gone, all he could do was cling. He was blest but it cost him
because he would not surrender.
God must get each of us to a place where we can be used.
Each of us must realize that we must let go of ever what
it is that hinders us from being in his will. We ought to be ashamed if God
should have to wrestle it from us. The secret to getting prayers answered, the
secret of having our way with God is not wrestling with Him. The answer is being
in his will.
Jacob wanted the blessings that went with the birthright.
However, he did not want to let go completely and trust the Lord. Jacob is
afraid of Esau and has no desire to face him. This mattered not, he was
determined to hold on to God and demand a blessing.
Before God could gave him the blessing, he had to be
brought to a place where he could do nothing but cling. Jacob was forced to
cling, because God touched him in his stronghold, and Jacob immediately became
powerless. All Jacob had to do was be humble and the blessing would have been
given to him without him demanding it. God already promised it.
Now let us compare self to Jacob. Each of us must examine
our heart, our motives, and God’s will for us. Before we demand the blessing,
we ought to be willing to give up those things that prevent us from being where
God can bless us has He already promised. We must take this a step further and
come to the conclusion that if I remain obstinate, God might just do to me what
he did to Jacob. He might cause me some physical pain to get my attention.
Jacob already had deceived Esau into selling him his
birthright. Years later he lied to Isaac and tricked him into giving him the
better of the blessing while Esau was away. At Bethel one night God promised him
seven things. Now here he is wrestling a blessing from the Lord again.
Jacob’s opponent entreated him to let Him go, Ex.
This man wrestling with Jacob was the pre-incarnate
Christ. It was not proper nor fitting for Jacob to see the face of the Lord.
This meant little to Jacob. Jacob not only spent the night physically wrestling
with the Lord, he also spent the night in agonizing prayer. The Lord is ready to
leave Jacob because Jacob would not let go, physically and spiritually, of the
things in his life. The Lord would have come back and deal again with Jacob
until Jacob relented. The Lord prevailed not this night, v. 25, against Jacob.
Jacob already had many things promised to him. He was not
satisfied until he had it all. Just what it is he would not let go, we are not
told exactly. I believe it was his strength and pride. God wanted Jacob to be
dependent on Him. Jacob was not ready to walk by faith where God wanted to go.
This is manifested in the next two chapters.
With no strength left, Jacob could not fight, only cling.
Psa 20:6 Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his
holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.
The Lord was ready to leave Jacob, but Jacob would not let
go of Him. The Lord touched his thigh and Jacob became limp and weak. The fight
was gone out of him, and now physically exhausted he could only hold on, cling,
to the Lord.
Why would he not humble his heart before day begin to
break in the Eastern sky? Why was it easier to wrestle with the Lord all night
than to humble his heart? Why was it easier to endure the physical pain than it
was to humble his heart and tell the Lord, “I lean on you.”
The only way to answer those questions is for us to look
at how long God has wrestled with us and answer it for self. Can we say as Peter
and then stand by our words to whom shall we go, John 6:64-69.
Jacob’s name was changed, from supplanter which meant
trickster, to Israel a name that means God commands.
Could he have been blessed in the twilight of the night
before with this name? Yes he could. God did not have anything to prove to
Jacob. What did Jacob prove to God? The only thing that Jacob proved was that he
was stiff-necked and rebellious, a trait that was handed down to his sons, the
12 Tribes of Israel, Exo 33:1-5.
Where Is Our Strength.
Jacob as a man stood and wrestled with God. After the
night of physical and spiritual activities his named was changed to Israel. What
a glorious blessing! The name Israel means: God commands, having power with God
or God’s fighter.
No longer would he be known as the joker or one who
tricks. From now on when his name was called, it was as if God Himself was
speaking. This was indeed what actually happened because God used the twelve
tribes of Israel and through them He gave the whole world Ten Commandments and a
noble race of fighters.
The only draw back to this blessing was Jacob had to
realize just where his strength resided. It was not in his flesh, even though he
was a powerful man at 97 years of age. It is a wise man who realizes his
strength is in the Lord.
27:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
It took David many years to realize just where his
strength was. David was like many of us today. We fight Goliath today and
succumb to Bathsheba tomorrow. Jacob was the same. He prayed to the Lord for
deliverance, wrestled with the Lord all night, and then the next day when he and
his brother met and departed, he did not even give God any thanks.
Christians must realize wherein is our strength.
Where is our strength? The day we ceased wrestling with
the Holy Ghost and realized we could not save ourselves, we also received a
blessing by having our names also changed. We ceased being lost sinners and
became born again Christians.
From that moment on we also speak as the voice of God. We
have power with the Lord, and we can also prevail. The Holy Ghost lives within
each of us. We have the power to take Him to places He does not want to go. We
can force feed Him things the He has no desire to hear, taste, touch, see, and
smell. We prevail.
However, is that our strength, making God hang around
until the day breaks in the East in places He has no desire to be? No that is
not our strength. Our strength is in the Lord.
Sad it is that many times God must also wound us before we
humble our hearts. It is my belief that Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of
his life. The limp was a constant reminder that the blessing came with great
pain because he would not humble his heart. The limp was a continual arrow that
pointed the way to the Lord as the source of his strength.
Christians must realize what God has commanded us to do, Acts
The day our names were changed we were also commanded to
go and do some things for the Lord. We were told to be witnesses. We were told
to go in His power and His strength.
After that night from then on each time the name of Israel
is heard it is as if some one says, “God commands.” The name Jacob meant
heel-catcher. He would no longer be known as such. Now his actions must reflect
his new name: God commands.
Just as it was expected of Jacob to reflect his new
identity, the same is also expected of us. Our name is Christian. Therefore, we
ought to act it. We say we go to such and such church. Does our lives reflect
If we desire to be effective witness, we must cling to Him,
Psa 71:16 I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy
righteousness, even of thine only.
A man named Jack was walking along a steep cliff one day
when he accidentally got too close to the edge and fell. On the way down he
grabbed a branch, which temporarily stopped his fall. He looked down and to his
horror saw that the canyon fell straight down for more than a thousand feet. He
couldn't hang onto the branch forever, and there was no way for him to climb up
the steep wall of the cliff. So Jack began yelling for help, hoping that someone
passing by would hear him and lower a rope or something. "HELP! HELP! Is
anyone up there? HELP!"
He yelled for a long time, but no one heard him. He was
about to give up when he heard a voice. "Jack, Jack. Can you hear me?"
"Yes, yes! I can hear you. I'm down here!"
"I can see you, Jack. Are you all right?"
"Yes, but who are you, and where are you?"
"I am the Lord, Jack. I'm everywhere."
"The Lord? You mean, GOD?"
"God, please help me! I promise if You'll get me down
from here, I'll stop sinning. I'll be a really good person. I'll serve You for
the rest of my life."
"Easy on the promises, Jack. Let's just get you down
from there; then we can talk. Now, here's what I want you to do. Listen
"I'll do anything, Lord. Just tell me what to
"Okay. Let go of the branch."
"I said, let go of the branch. Just trust Me. Let
There was a long silence. Finally Jack yelled, "HELP!
HELP! IS ANYONE ELSE UP THERE?"
p. Have you ever felt like Jack? We say that we want to know the will of God, but when we find out what it is, we can't handle it. Sounds too scary, too difficult. Why are we willing to cling to a branch on the side of a mountain, something physical and finite, and refuse to cling to the Infinite? We decide to look elsewhere. When He says, "Let go of the things that stand between you and Me, and trust Me with your life," it sounds pretty scary. But when we let go, we find freedom and safety in His hands."
What is YOUR Name in heaven?