Summary: This is a sermon that begs the question... who’s will are we REALLY following?
Genesis 32:22-32 22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." 27 The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered. 28 Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." 29 Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared." 31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
“Darkness into Light”
Whenever I read about bible characters… I’m amazed about how imperfect they are. They are not pristine subjects… they are not free from sin… they are not free from troubles… they are not free from mistakes. The bible doesn’t hold anything back in showing you the dark sides of the characters, sides of themselves that they wish would never go into print. Yet… it is amazing how time and time again… it is the imperfect people that God chooses to save… that God chooses to use… that God chooses to mold into his leaders, his followers, his people. So it is with the story of Jacob.
While it is a story of privileged man… it is a story of a life characterized by struggles and dark stories. In chapter 25 we have our first glimpse of darkness. Jacob was the second born, which meant he was behind Esau for the inheritance. First born meant special privilege. It meant a double portion of the inheritance. It meant… everything.
Esau comes out from the fields from a hard days work and find Jacob making his famous red stew. Esau demands to have a bowl… and Jacob says “Sell me your birthright.” Esau does… eats the stew… and becomes resentful, spiteful, and angry.
In chapter 27, it gets worse, it gets darker… not better. When his father Isaac was near death, Jacob dressed up like Esau… put hairy goatskins on his arms so he would feel like his brother Esau, and he tricked his blind and aged father into placing his blessing on him. It was a very big deal. Isaac’s blessing meant that Jacob was lord over the entire family, that all of his relatives were like servants to him. He had even received the double portion of inheritance.
When Esau finds out he has been tricked like this, he declared “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
Jacob is forced to flee to the land of his uncle. This leads us to chapter 29… and even more darkness. While in exile… he falls in love with Laban’s daughter Rachel and vows to work 7 years to win her hand in marriage. But Laban is a crafty old man, and during the night of the wedding Laban brings his oldest daughter Leah to Jacob, and Jacob is tricked into marrying her, Jacob is devastated, “What is this you have done to me? Why?” Even then, Jacob is forced to work another 7 years for Rachel’s hand. Then, finally… Jacob began to prosper and live in happiness. The end of darkness right? Wrong.
In Chapter 31… more darkness, Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belong to our father.” Jacob was no longer safe in the land of Laban… he was forced to flee.
This brings us to Chapter 32… Jacob is preparing to go home. Back home to Esau. Back home to the man who’s last words were… “I’m going to kill you.” Chapter 32 is a chapter of great darkness… as Jacob stands on the shore of the river, prepared to cross over into the land of his brother Esau… to face his brother, to face his past, to face the darkness he had tried to forget.