Summary: This sermon looks at what happened when Jacob's life was changed forever. There is a four step process of change: 1. The first step is CRISIS 2. The second step is COMMITMENT 3. The third step is CONFESSION 4. The fourth step is COOPERATION
Changed For The Better
What would you most like to change about yourself? If you could change one thing – what would it be? All of us change over time. Each one of us is getting older. But the great tragedy of life is that sometimes we don’t change for the better.
Most people are interested in change. I looked up on the internet a few days ago some the top selling self-help books that are out there. One of them is titled: “Get Out Of Your Own Way – Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior.” Another one is titled: “Self Help – How To Change Your Life In The Next 15 Minutes.” Now let me tell you – I am not endorsing either one of these books – but it interesting to know that people want change – and most people what it quick. But do you know the truth. Most change takes T I M E. It usually does not come instantaneously.
In Genesis chapter thirty two we see the process that God uses in changing Jacob. God is helping him become a different kind of person – a better person. The incident recorded in this chapter was a turning point in Jacob’s life and serves as a dramatic example of how God can change us too.
But before we read our text we need to remember that Jacob was a somewhat shifty sort of fellow. If you recall that back in Genesis chapter twenty seven he had tricked his father into giving him a blessing that was intended for his older brother Esau. Jacob’s father could not see very well and the father had sent Esau out to hunt some game and make some stew for him. While Esau was away – Jacob came in with some stew and pretended to be Esau. Jacob knew that Esau was a hairy fellow – so he took some goat skin and put it on his hands and on the back of his neck – just in case if his father wanted to touch him he would feel like he was hairy. Sure enough – his father wanted to be sure it was Esau and that he was hairy. So he called Jacob up to him and felt him to be sure – and the goat skins did the trick. Even though the voice was that of Jacob – the father accepted that it was Esau and not Jacob. Jacob had pulled it off – he had tricked his father. The father blessed Jacob – Esau became angry and Jacob had to run for his life. Did you know that Jacob’s name means
“cheater” or “schemer?”
But several years later Jacob was returning home. He knew that he would see Esau again and that was an uncomfortable fact. “How would Esau react? Would he still be mad? Would he try to kill me?” were questions that were running though Jacob’s mind. It was at this point that Jacob had an encounter with God that would change the rest of his life forever. It was such a transforming experience that he was never the same again. Let us read our text:
“Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh.”
Genesis 32:24-31 (NASB)
In this story we have a clear expression of a four-step process that God used to change Jacob – four steps that would radically alter his life forever. Perhaps we can learn from this incident the methods that God uses to change people. There are four steps that God uses to change us into the people God wants us to become.
THE FOUR STEP PROCESS OF CHANGE
1. The first step is CRISIS
Our text says:
“Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak…”
This was no ordinary man for later on in our text Jacob says: