Summary: We need to let go of control in our lives so that we can receive God’s blessings
There’s a story about a little girl who climbed up on the lap of her great grandmother and looked at her white hair and wrinkles and then asked, “Did God make you?”
“Yes,” the great grandmother replied.
Then the child asked, “Did God make me, too?”
Grandma again replied, “Yes.”
“Well, said the little girl, “don’t you think He’s doing a better job now than he used to?”
Often we as Christians feel the same way about the Old Testament. It is old. I mean really old. It’s age is evident. It certainly isn’t relevant to today. Look at it’s wrinkles. People don’t travel in caravans anymore. Why they didn’t even know who Jesus was. The New Testament is all that matters now.
This morning I want us to stop and look beneath the wrinkles of the Old Testament at individual much like ourselves and lessons God has through him for you and me.
The text this morning is from Genesis 32:22-30. Let’s read it responsively.
Jacob was the son of Isaac, the grandson of Abraham. From the moment of his conception in his mother’s womb he was conceived by the grace and love of God. He was conceived out of his parents, Isaac and Rebekah’s, obedience to God. Jacob was born into a home of believers, probably much like you and I were. He was raised knowing God. He tried to follow God’s will. And,yet, he didn’t quite trust God enough to fulfill what God had promised that he, Jacob, would be a father of a strong nation and God would bless him for his obedience.
You see, Jacob could have been born into America today for a US News and World Report recently began with these insightful and yet profound words:
If America has any national religion at all, it is not the Christianity of its found fathers; nor is it, as the cynics would have it money. It is rather the belief that we are each in full control of our own lives and our destinies.
Without intending to, this article identifies the fundamental problem with humanity – which is as old as the first man and the first woman – our struggle with God over who is going to be in control of our lives. Jacob struggled with the same thing. Here in lived in a nation of religious people but his religion was not of God if was of power.
Jacob since he was in his mother’s womb and tried to live his life his way. He always wanted to be first, to be the one in control. Jacob was a twin. He was to be born second and he struggled with that grabbing a hold of Esau’s ankle. As a young lad he was consumed with the desire to have the power of the birthright giving him control over all of his families heritage. He was determined to have his way. No one or anything would stand in his way.
When Isaac, Jacob’s father was old and nearly blind, Jacob and his mother, Rebekah, conceived a plan to give the power that was rightfully his brother to him. Jacob dressed in his brother’s clothing, covered his smooth skin with goatskins and went to his father disguised as Esau. Isaac thinking Jacob was Esau blessed him giving him authority and possession of all that he had. Jacob had won he had stolen Esau’s blessing.
When Esau learned of the deception, he cried out in anguish. Esau’s pain from losing his birthright and blessing gave way to anger. He vowed to kill Jacob. Rebekah warned Jacob of Esau’s vow and Jacob fled from his brother’s wrath to Paddan Aram (pay-duhn air-uhm). He had what he wanted now all he had to do was live out his life far from the threat of Esau. He married Leah and Rachel. He fathered many children and he prospered. And then in Genesis 31:3 the Lord spoke to Jacob and commanded him, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives and I will be with you.”
Can’t you just hear Jacob, Lord you want me to do what? You want me to go where? back to the land of my fathers? Whoa, wait a minute Lord, Esau lives there. Remember Lord, Esau hates me. He has vowed to kill me. Surely Lord you don’t want me to go back there, do you? (Pause)
Sound familiar? Have you ever heard God’s voice, his command for your life and then tried to talk him out of it. Surely God this isn’t what you want me to do? God you must of made a mistake, I can’t do that. Send someone else. (Pause)
I remember when I first felt God’s call into the ministry. I had heard God’s voice and I was willing but Lord until he said, “Go into youth ministry.” Please, God, don’t send me into youth ministry. You know I will relate better to adults. Beside adults are so much more civil than youth. You know I am getting old, too old to keep up with a bunch of teenagers. I just don’t think I would do a good job in youth ministry, you must have made a mistake. What I didn’t understand then was that if I hadn’t gone into youth ministry that would have been the mistake.