Summary: Part two of a Bible study on the life of Jacob, his vision in the night as he fled from Esau.
A Bible Study by
Charles W. Holt
LET’S MAKE A DEAL: The Story of Jacob
If you think that what I have been talking about so far is way beyond reality, that it is in fact a wild ride into Fantasy Land, nice in theory but totally impractical in real life, let’s look at what might be justly called the coup de grace (a.k.a., a finishing stroke or decisive event). What happens next is truly the decisive event. The Bible says, "And he went to sleep."
AND HE WENT TO SLEEP
I might agree with someone’s objection to elevating this to a precedent setting event were it not for the fact that someone else, other than Jacob, has done it. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established" (2 Cor. 13:1 KJV). I could, for example, easily remind you of the night the "professional" fishermen were being tossed around on the stormy breast of the Sea of Galilee like a cork with a determined catfish on the end of the line. The boat was awash with waves, so much so that the "professional" guys cried, "boys, we’re going down as sure as our names are Peter, James, and John!"
But wait! Take a look at this bit of commentary describing that night of turbulence, terror, and near death on the Sea of Galilee.
"And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? . . . And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?" (Mk. 4:37-38,40 KJV).
These are the facts:
--It was a great storm of wind
--The waves beat into the ship
--So that the ship was now full
--Jesus is asleep on a pillow
--The disciples had no faith
Does this event stretch the bounds of reality for you? It does for me! Every time I read the story I wonder how Jesus could sleep with all the stuff happening. Jesus did not have a pillow of stones but the scene fits every criterion for our story of Jacob and how it is possible to sleep when one is "between a rock and a hard place."
But there is an example I like even better. It comes from one of the most familiar stories in the Book of Acts.
"And he [King Herod] killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also¡K
And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison; . . . And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two
soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison" (Acts 12:2-6 KJV).
And you know how the story ends with Peter¡¦s miraculous deliverance by the hand of an angel. And you also can see all the elements in this story that scream out the possibilities of sleeping, Jacob-like, in the hard place and Jesus-like through the disaster at sea. Peter lost no zzzz¡¦s the night before the day of his scheduled death at the executioner¡¦s sword. What might be our excuse for not following their examples? Fear? Lack of faith? For the disciples upon the stormy sea, it was a lack of faith.
I have a question and then I want to give a story to illustrate my point. Question: how much fight is in you when you are faced with what can be considered an impossible challenge? Here’s my story.
W.A. Criswell, longtime Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas until he retired several years ago, told a story about an Evangelist who loved to hunt. The Evangelist went out and bought two top-notch setters. He kept them in his back yard, where he trained them. One morning, an ornery little vicious-looking bulldog came down the alley. He crawled under the fence and before long he and the two setters were at it tooth and nail. At first the Evangelist thought about putting his setters in the basement to avoid a confrontation, but then decided just to let the little bulldog learn a lesson. After a few moments of scuffling with the setters the bulldog decided he’d had enough and he squeezed back under the fence and went home to lick his sores.
The next morning the same thing happened . . . same time . . . same place. And the next morning, and the next. Each morning the bulldog showed up, crawled under the fence, got the stuffing beat out of him, and retreated back under the fence and down the alley.