In the last post we started looking at Jacob and his encounter with God where he wrestled with God and it changed everything for him. It changed the direction of his life and even changed his name. In this post we will continue to look at Jacob and again if you are unfamiliar with him please read Genesis 31 and 32 – if you wish you can click here to read it. The minimum I think you should know about his encounter is in this paraphrase of the Scripture of Jacob wrestling with God:
Jacob stayed behind by himself and this is where there is real mystery in what happened is written. We know that Jacob wrestled with a man until daybreak. We do not know how this happened but Jacob wrestles with the man. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.
The man said, "Let me go; it’s daybreak." Jacob said, "I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me." The man said, "What’s your name?" He answered, "Jacob."
The man said, "But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it is Israel; you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through." Jacob asked, "And what’s your name?" The man said, "Why do you want to know my name?" And then, right then and there, he blessed him. Jacob named the place Peniel because, he said, "I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!" The sun came up as he left Peniel, limping because of his hip being knocked out of joint.
Yesterday we saw different motivations drive us to seek God and concern for family will lead us to seek God. Today one thing we see is this : Family arguments push us to seek God and His direction. Jacob was driven by fear of a hostile uncle, and as we saw him run from Laban. What Jacob didn’t fully know was that God warned Laban not to harm Jacob. Then Jacob faced a brother who had sworn revenge on him in the past but his heart softened through the years but Jacob did not know this either. Sometimes we are motivated to seek God because we are disappointed with our family or in our marriage or our children turn against us or we are betrayed by family members. In those times we need to seek God and His direction because in God’s presence there is peace and rest. We will find direction for family issues if we seek God – we must hold on and fight for our family! We must hold on to God and what He wants and not what we want.
One reason people do not have powerful encounters with God has to do with this: We must give up precious things of life to encounter God’s presence. Jacob gave up everything for God, he was willing to surrender all his herds to Esau, he was willing to sacrifice his family, he offered to God the only thing he brought out of the Promise Land, which was his staff or his walking stick which is something he will need after his encounter with God. Only after giving it all to God did Jacob experience God’s presence. If you are going to encounter God, you must not let anything come between you and God. Here is the problem – we have our priorities all out of whack – we have our list of priorities as children, spouse, and immediate family, other family, friends, then God. What it needs to be is like this: God, spouse, children, immediate family, other family, and then friends. We put everything before God in life and make excuses like it is alright but we wonder why we do not have encounters with God or his power and presence in our lives. We wonder why everything falls apart all round us and we do not know where to turn. It is because we are not willing to give up the precious thing of life to encounter God’s presence which will ultimately lead to greater blessings than we could imagine. We could have so much if we just gave it all to Him – it is a paradox – we must give it all to God so that we can have more of it.
Some of you want to argue with me right now and in your minds you are but I say do not argue with me but Jesus who in Matthew 10:37-39 said this: "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it". Nothing and no one should come before God in your life – not your spouse, not your children, no one and if they do – you are wrong according to Jesus!
Have you found this paradox to be true in your life? Have you given it all up for God and found so much more?