Summary: Jacob: Wrestling with God and Man, Final Part

BYGONES ARE BYGONES (GEN 32:1-15, 32:22-33:12)

One of my favorite comedies is "Groundhog Day," a make-believe story about a weather man, Phil Conners, who had a bad attitude, an obnoxious personality, and a razor tongue. For the fourth straight year, he was assigned on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, to cover a small town’s festivities. Conners obviously cared little about the fuss the folks were paying to a groudhog but was smitten by the new and attractive producer, actress Andie MacDowell, that was reporting the news with him.

After the shoot, the news team could not get out of town because of the bad weather. To his horror, when he woke up the next day, Conners discovered that new day was the old day he had lived a day before. He met the same people, did the same things, and said the same things. Every day after was the same.

Of course, Conners took advantage of what he knew every previous day, and over and over he started the day on a promising note but ruined it with a terrible mistake. His attempt to woo the producer, who was smitten with him because he knew more about her likes and dislikes over the course of time, usually ended on a wrong note. She slapped him hard over many days when she realized that he was just a hypocrite mouthing words to win her, until he gave up trying to win her affections and to be who he was not. Since he had lots of time and was not going anywhere fast, he decided to learn new things for a change, such as playing the piano and helping defenseless people, and to simply enjoy the town and people and even the weather that stranded him there. When that happened, the producer fell in love with the new and improved Conners, the weather cleared up, and they were free to leave.

For 20 years Jacob did not have to deal with his brother, who had wanted to kill him (Gen 27:41). Jacob made a fool out of Esau, made a mockery of brotherhood, and made a sham of the family. He had avoided and escaped the problems of his childhood but he was headed on a collision course twenty years later. Jacob’s rehabilitation, transformation, and story climaxed with a humbling prayer, a wrestling match, and a touching reconciliation.

Why is reliance on God the best way to reconcile with the past? What are the signs of true reconciliation? How are repentance and transformation related to reconciliation?


7In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. 8He thought, ¡°If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.¡± 9Then Jacob prayed, ¡°O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, `Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. 11Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12But you have said, `I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’¡° (Gen 32:7-12)

The lion was proud of his mastery of the animal kingdom. One day he decided to make sure all the other animals knew that he was the king of the jungle. He bypassed the smaller animals and went straight to the bear. "Who is the king of the jungle?" the lion asked. The bear replied, "Why, you are, of course."

Next, he asked the tiger, "Who is the king of the jungle?" The tiger quickly responded, "Everybody knows that you are, O mighty lion."

Unfortunately, the elephant did not respond the same way to the question. The elephant immediately grabbed the lion with his trunk, whirled him around in the air five or six times, and slammed him into a tree. Then he pounded him onto the ground several times, dunked him under the water in a nearby lake, and finally threw him up on the shore.

The lion- beaten, bruised, and battered- struggled to his feet. He looked at the elephant through sad and bloody eyes and said, "Look, just because you don’t know the answer is no reason for you to get mean about it."

Jacob was older, wiser, and richer after two decades in Haran, but his real maturity, proven wisdom, and true riches were the realization that he was a nobody if not for God’s help. Without God, he could be rich, successful, and intelligent, but broke, miserable, and pitiful. Jacob’s life, held together admirably for many years, was spiraling out of control, his mind was running out of ideas, and his world was coming to a crash.

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