Summary: Every Christian must ultimately decide whether they will continue to follow their own self-devised path or make full commitment to Christ, and that decision is often made in the midst of a crisis.
The Touch That Transformed
Text: Gen.32: 30-31
Intro: A study in the life of Jacob, the son of Isaac, reveals much about human nature. More importantly, it reveals many spiritual truths about the Christian’s walk with God that need to be acknowledged and applied to daily life.
I won’t take the time to enumerate the many lessons that can be learned from Jacob’s bumpy journey with God; but I do want to deal with one specific incident in his life that I believe reveals a life-changing truth. In this particular episode of Jacob’s life, he came to know God and himself in a profoundly new way. Jacob was never the same after this experience.
Learning to live an obedient Christian life is a lifelong pursuit. It is not something that we acquire in full the first week after salvation. It is a lesson learned, as well as a battle fought, over and over again throughout one’s life, on many different levels.
In Genesis chapter 32, we find Jacob in the midst of a life crisis. One might say that Jacob finds himself in the “Valley of Decision,” as it were (Joel 3: 14). He must decide if he will make full surrender to God, trusting Him completely, or continue on foolhardy and headstrong, as he had done so often in his life. This was a very crucial point in his life with God. As we examine Jacob’s crisis, we will see that it falls into three different phases. Notice them with me.
Theme: In this crisis we see:
I. JACOB BURDENED (The Circumstances)
A. Notice The Source Of Jacob’s Pressure.
1. There were the regrets of the past.
Gen.27: 35 “And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing.
36 And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? For he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing.
41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.”
NOTE: Guilt and regret can be extremely torturous to the soul. These often come from failing to seriously consider the results of our decisions. Someone has said, “It is better to sleep on what you plan to do than to be kept awake by what you’ve done” (Source Unknown). However, living in full surrender to Christ will head off many of life’s regrets.
In 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe gave Borden a burden for the world’s hurting people. Writing home, he said, “I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.”
When he made this decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: No Reserves. Turning down high paying job offers after graduation from Yale University, he entered two more words in his Bible: No Retreats. Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month. A waste, you say! Not in God’s plan. In his Bible underneath the words No Reserves and No Retreats, he had written the words No Regrets.
Daily Bread, December 31, 1988.
2. There was the realization of the present.
Gen.32: 6 “And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.
7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;
8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.”
NOTE:  Jacob came to the realization that his foolishness of the past might prove to be fatal in the present. One of the last things Jacob had heard about Esau was his promise to kill him after their father’s death. Yes, the regrets of Jacob’s past had come back to haunt him.
 Notice how Jacob begins to try to scheme his way out of this situation. He hasn’t made total surrender to God yet, and his fleshly self-sufficiency immediately comes to the surface. Jacob’s encounter with God at Bethel had changed his beliefs. His encounter with God at the Jabbok would change his behavior.
B. Notice The Sincerity Of Jacob’s Prayer.
1. His prayer was possessed of faith and trust.
Gen.32: 9 “And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: