Summary: Jacob’s attempt to receive God’s blessing by his own devious devices is finally halted by a direct encounter with God.
January 17, 2004
I can hardly believe that the last time we looked together into the book of Genesis was October 5.
We need to remind ourselves of where we are in the narrative.
Isaac and Rebekkah have two sons - Esau and Jacob
Esau is the older but God picks Jacob to be the one to whom the blessing will descend.
Jacob seeks to receive the blessing by his own deceptive means.
First he tricks his brother into selling his birthright, and then he and his mother conspire to steal the blessing.
As a result, Esau threatens to kill Jacob and Jacob flees to his uncle Laban’s home to let his brother cool down. While there Jacob himself is tricked into marrying Leah and then marries Rachel. He has eleven boys and prospers greatly. Finally, he and his family flee from Laban.
We pick up the story twenty years after it had begun, as Jacob heads back to the promised land and a reunion with the brother who hated him.
This is one of the great stories of our human tendency to vacillate between faith and unbelief - between trusting God and attempting to do it in our own strength.
Jacob is on the pendulum swinging from one extreme to the other.
#1 Swing #1 1&2, 3-8
Camp of Angels - the evidence that God is with Him.
Two camps of family - despite the vision that God is with him the family is divided in case of attack, that perhaps one camp can get away.
#2 Swing #2 9-12; 13-21
This is a great prayer
-confession of his own unworthiness
- reminder of God’s promises
Jacob’s bribe - immediately after the great prayer for God’s deliverance, Jacob again takes things into his own hands by attempting to bribe his brothers goodwill by sending various groups of animals.
#3 The final Swing 22-32
Jacob - heel catcher, deceiver
Israel - God contends - Some have interpreted Israel to mean "One who contends with God" because it fits with the picture of Jacob wrestling with God. However, in every other biblical name that I could examine the subject is reversed. For example, Daniel does not mean the "one who judges God," but "God judges. Ezekiel means "God strengthens." Therefore, I think the point of Israel is that "God contends" for Jacob.
He came away with a limp, but he never had more strength in His life. He now realized that the promise would not be accomplished by his scheming, but by God’s work.