In the last few post we have been talking about Jacob and his encounter with God. Jacob in his encounter with God 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.
In looking at the last couple of days we have seen that different motivations drive us to God and for Jacob it was family issues and problems. We have seen family issues do drive us to seek the presence of God and they push us to seek direction from God about them. We also talked about the paradox that we must give up the most precious things in order get all that God has for us. There are some tough things to learn but if you wrestle with God you will find that God does not want things easy for us but He simply wants us to hold on tight to Him through all we go through.
Another tough thing to understand in all this is this thought: We encounter God in the darkest of night’s experiences. Sometimes God doesn’t come to us when everything is rosy. When we have health, happiness, money in the bank and no threats, we usually don’t think much about God. But the darkest nights scare us because we can’t see where we’re going, we can’t see things, we can’t see ourselves; nor can we see God. In those dark experiences, we can seek God and He will reveal Himself to us. If you are in a dark black night – it is time for you to cry out to God to show you His presence and power and light – it is time for you to encounter the light of the world! God who is light want to shine into that dark night and provide for you – but you have to trust him for that to happen! You have to be willing to change – unwillingness to change means things will remain the same. God will shine his light into your life for change!
For an encounter with the Almighty God we need sometimes to get to this place: The place where everything seems lost and it is at that place that we must seek God’s face. Jacob thought he was about to lose everything. His greatest fear was the fear in his own heart. When all seemed lost, God came to him. In our lives, God lets us experience extremes in our hearts, because man’s extremes, are God’s opportunities. It is in these experiences that God reveals Himself to us. Has God allowed you to go through deep waters? It will be in those deep waters when everything seems like it is lost that God will encounter you and change things. You must seek him in those times – go hard if it seems like everything is lost! God is always right there with you – know, believe, and understand that! Seek Him and hold on tight like Jacob did!
In Psalm 73 we see this; “But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped. With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth."
Could that be your prayer – do you desire only God – you say yes but what about you actions and attitudes – what do they show?
How desperate are you for God? You see: God reveals Himself to those who desperately seek Him. Jacob was not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination as seen by his deceiving of those closest to him in his life –he deceived his family. He put them at risk to save his on hide and to take advantage of them. He was not perfect and had real problems.
That brings to my mind a question – So why did God reveal Himself to Jacob if he was such a schemer and liar – Because above all else, Jacob sought the Lord. He is an example of someone who had an open heart and was willing to change and God encountered him in spite of how bad he looked to others. Remember that He exerted all physical energy he could to hang on to God when wrestling. It was only when God touched his hip that Jacob released his grip on God. You will realize God’s presence only when you seek it more than pleasure, food, financial security, sensual things or any other thing in life. We can encounter God when we give up everything to experience Him. Many of you unfortunately will not have a God encounter like I am talking about because you are not willing to give up things. You might not want to give up that sin that so easily besets you because you like the power it gives you so you just tell people you cannot change. You might want to have money more than an encounter with God so you seek money hard and just give God your left over time. You might want entertainment more than God so you continually skip godly activities so that you can be entertained. Let me ask you – could it be said of you – above all else, you seek the Lord?
If you had to explain what it means to someone to “seek the Lord” – what would you say?