Summary: How Jacob obtained the promise AFTER he struggled.
As I was watching television the other day I saw an interesting commercial for Dick Devos who is a candidate for governor here in the State of Michigan this year. It was interesting to me because of the angle he took. It wasn’t really a plea for people to vote for him. He didn’t have a laundry list of reasons as to why you should vote for him. Instead he sat there and said there’s a lot of talk about whose to blame for the state of Michigan’s economy. Some point to the finger at the former governor. Some point the finger to the party who is in majority in Lansing. Some point the finger to Washington DC. In his ad DeVos says there is plenty of blame to go around but what we should be talking about instead of blame is a plan of action of Michigan’s future. The damage is done now so it don’t matter who did it, the point is, we need to reverse it and get our economy back on track.
As a degree holder in American Politics and Law it fascinates me how the closer we get to election day, the more we hear about the candidates’ pasts and not what they intend to do in the future. I can remember the 2004 election how the closer we got to November 8, the more John Kerry and George W. Bush’s past military records came into question.
I’ll take this minute to tell you brothers and sisters of Christ that whenever something is about to happen in your future, that’s when your past comes up. And its never the good things about your past. It’s the bad, shameful stuff that muckrakers dig up and spread all over for everyone to see. Yet, you must understand that no matter how much you progress, no matter how much success you can claim, no matter how much you think you got it goin on; you will never truly have it goin on until you can face your past.
When you can look head on at the issues that you know that you blew, you squandered, you messed up; that’s when you know that you are a prime candidate for the next level in life that God is trying to get you to.
In our text for today, we see the greatest wrestling match of all time as it takes place between our central character Jacob and God. Now Jacob has a shoddy past, even from birth. Because when birth was taking place, he held on to his brother’s heel and become known at that moment as a heel grabber. He wanted to hold on to someone else instead of coming out by himself. That begins the dark and dysfunctional relationship between Jacob and his brother Esau. As they develop, mature, and grow into spry young teenagers we find them again. Here Jacob tricks Esau out of his birthright. If that wasn’t bad enough, he steals the final blessing that Isaac, their father, has to give out by dressing up and fooling Isaac into thinking he was Esau. Their mother Rebekah realized that she had started something bad between her two sons and had admonished Jacob, “you need to run out of town because your brother, if he gets his hands on you, when he realizes what you did to him, he will squeeze the everloving life out of you!”
And so finally now in the 32nd chapter, after many years of separation, Jacob has been married several times. He’s broken off on his own, started his own business. Acquired and accumulated tremendous property, livestock, wealth, and houses. But now finally, just as his life is starting to progress, he finally has to face his brother Esau.
But you’ll notice something intriguing here as we come into the periphery of our text. You’ll notice that Jacob, in hearing that Esau is on his way, gathers up his family and his things and crosses a ford called Jabbok. Now here’s wherein lies the problem. Because Jabbok is the land that God promised Abraham. Jabbok is the land of promise that he had given to Abraham, but Abraham was never able to see. You have to understand then that immediately, as soon as, he steps in the region of Jabbok (the vicinity of the promise); just on the edge of it, not too far into it yet, but as soon as he comes within the boundaries of the region of the promise, is when an angel shows up to fight.
This passage has been mistakenly termed as an issue about Esau. The fact of the matter is it has nothing to do with Esau. This passage is a sign to the believers that God caught a case with Jacob. He wanted to know how in the world he could have the audacity to try and enter into the vicinity of the promise without a fight! God says “Jacob, your whole life you’ve been a hustler, you’ve been a con-artist, you’ve been a bamboozler, a hoodwinker! And you can get away with all that with people! But when you call yourself ready to possess what I have for you, I’m not gon let you trick me! I’m gon make you fight for it!