Summary: Jacob Wrestles With God. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Genesis chapter 32 verses 22-32.
• James Whistler, the Victorian artist,
• Showed scant respect for the hierarchy of any profession.
• When his poodle fell ill with a throat infection,
• The artist sent immediately for the country’s leading ear, nose, and throat specialist,
• When Sir Morell Mackenzie arrived at his house;
• He was not amused when he saw that his patient was a poodle.
• But as a good doctor;
• He conducted a thorough examination, wrote out a prescription, and left with his fee.
• The next day Sir Morell Mackenzie sent the artist James Whistler a message;
• In it he asked him to call on him without delay.
• Fearing some development in the poodle’s condition,
• James Whistler hurried to the doctor’s house.
• “So good of you to come, Mr. Whistler,” said Mackenzie as his visitor was shown in.
• “I wanted to see you about having my front door painted.”
• Well Sir Morell Mackenzie got his revenge;
• And made his point effectively!
Now in Genesis 32 the main character is Jacob:
• He is worried that his brother Esau is about to take revenge on him:
• Esau his brother was a fighter and a killer and Jacob was scared to death of him
• Last week you would have noted how;
• Jacob prayed the right kind of prayer (verses 9-12);
• But Jacob is a classic case of actions speaking louder than words!
• Instead of depending on God, Jacob immediately implements his own plan:
A missionary in the Philippines was driving him in a large flat back truck;
• He saw a local farmer who he knew walking with a really heavy load tied to his back;
• The load was obviously heavy and weighing him down;
• The missionary stopped and told the farmer to jump on board the truck;
• The man did and off they went.
• After a while the missionary looked in his mirror and noticed that the farmer;
• Had still not taken the load of his back.
• Despite his new circumstances;
• The farmer was still carrying the same old load.
• How like Jacob who prayed to God about his burden (his situation);
• And yet continued to carry it (try to sort it) himself.
• We ought not to be surprised by Jacob’s self-sufficiency;
• Because this is the pattern of his whole life:
• Jacob’s philosophy in life was: “God helps those who help themselves!”
• Not only is that outlook foolish, it is truly unbiblical!
• Jacob tended to rely upon his own abilities, rather than trusting in God.
• His life is one illustration after another of self-sufficiency!
(a). Remember back in chapter 27:
• Jacob was promised the status of the firstborn son,
• But instead of waiting on God, he sought to obtain this blessing through deceit.
(b). Back in chapter 30: 37-43:
• Jacob was promised material provision for his life,
• But instead of trusting God, he tried to obtain it through manipulation.
(c). Remember back in chapter 31:
• Jacob was promised protection by God,
• But instead of trusting God, he relied upon deceit and speed to try and outrun Laban,
(d). Remember earlier on in chapter 32:
• Jacob is facing a crisis with Esau,
• And once again he again turns to his own resources, rather than trusting in God.
• He first of all tries to use flattery, which did not work,
• And so he then tries bribery to (to appease Esau with presents) to resolve this crisis situation.
• Jacob is a bit like Marmite;
• You either like him or you dislike him (no neutral ground).
• Jacob was what we would call today a “rascal”
• As one commentator has said:
“Jacob was the kind of person that could enter a revolving door behind you
and come out ahead of you.”
In your studies you will have noted that:
• Jacob cheated his brother,
• Conned his father and his brother,
• And swindled his father-in-law.
• Fortunately for Jacob somebody did like him!
• And that somebody was God Almighty!
Jacob is about to have an encounter with him:
• Remember he is expecting to meet and fight with his brother Esau;
• Instead he is will meet and fight with the Living God!
And he would never be the same again!
• His name would be changed;
• From Jacob to Israel.
• His body would be changed;
• From now on he would forever be disabled (walk with a limp);
• More importantly he would be changed;
• God would change him from scheming to trusting.
• Jacob needed to learn the same lesson all Christians have to learn;