Summary: This sermon uses the story of Jacob fighting the angel of Yahweh to show how we as Christians should strive for God’s blessing.
This morning we are going to look at the life of a man who was nothing more than a deceiver. We are going to examine his life, to learn how his life changed for the better. We are going to find out how Jacob received a blessing from God that completely changed his life. This morning I pray that as we look through the Scriptures we will able to understand where we fall short of God’s plan, and how we too can receive that life changing blessing. So open your Bibles to the 32nd Chapter of Genesis. We will begin looking at verse 24. (Read Text).
Before we can understand how and why Jacob’s life was changed we must first look to the past. I am going to set the background for you.
Jacob took advantage of Esau when he was hungry. He deceived Isaac for the blessing of the firstborn. He tried to marry the youngest sister when custom dictated she should wait until the eldest was married first. He got the strongest animals as his share, and gives the weakest to Laban (30:37-43). He left the house of Laban without telling him he was leaving (31:20).
Even in Jacob’s first encounter with God (28:10-22) he cannot simply believe what God told him; he turns it into a kind of bargain: "IF God does what He said He would do, THEN He will be my God." God wants to bless His people. I don’t care where you are. There is a place of blessing for you. I don’t care who you are. God wants to pour out His blessing upon you. This is the lesson we learn from the story of Jacob. In a most unlikely place and in a most unusual way God came to this unlikely prospect "And He Blessed Him There." If a man like Jacob can experience the blessing of God there is hope for us.
But now he’s coming home. You see, many years earlier, after Jacob stole the blessing from Esau, his mother Rebekah was going to send for him after Esau calmed down. But there is nothing in the Bible that she ever sent word that it was safe to come home. But God tells Jacob to “go home”. Now after many years had passed Jacob was returning home and he was afraid that his brother might still try to kill him. I mean think about it. Your younger brother stole your family inheritance right out from under you. If I was Esau I would be pretty upset. Jacob was undoubted fearful for his life to return home.
Now, Jacob had come to the Jabbok River and crossing it meant crossing into Esau’s territory. Hoping to appease his brother so that he wouldn’t kill him he sent gifts across the river ahead of him. He sent his servants with gifts for Esau of 220 goats, 220 sheep, 30 camels, 40 cows, 10 bulls, and 30 donkeys. As Jacob was making these preparations he said to himself, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me” (Genesis 32:20). Later that night he sent his wives and sons across the river and finally he sent the rest of his servants with the rest of his possessions across and Jacob was left alone. I want you to trace the path that lead’s to God’s blessings
I. TO BE BLESSED WE MUST LEAVE ALL BEHIND. (32:24a)
The Jabbok River enters the Jordan River midways between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Jacob’s family has just crossed the Jabbok just east of where it enters the Jordan River. All of his wealth, all of his wives, all of his children, his animals, his workers were gone, and Jacob was left alone.
But for some reason, Jacob remained on the opposite bank from his family. Now why was this? He was clearly conscious that a great crisis had come in his life. Anything might happen on the next morning with Esau and his four hundred men arrived. Jacob had prayed, prayed and planned, and now there was nothing more for him to do. And yet there he was, in the darkness of the night, alone, with all the events of the past day clear before him, with all the awful possibilities of the coming day well in view. Why, then was he alone? Most all the commentaries I read said that he was most likely on guard. Just in case Esau’s army attacked in the night, only he would be seen therefore protecting his family from death. Honestly, I would have to say that it was God that wanted him to be alone. He needed to be alone to get some things right with God. Jacob really feared for his life and I believe Jacob needed to be alone to expect God’s help.