Tag: Jacob

Wrestling with God’s will?

Scripture Reading for January 13th:  Genesis 32-36

Have you ever felt that God has told you to do something that you knew had the potential for trouble? Our first move away from home to pastor a church in Washington was like that.  We were used to being around family and a loving church.  We were not sure they would like us.  We wrestled about moving our daughter in her senior year of high school.  We had told God we would go anywhere, but not necessarily this far!

Jacob faced a similar challenge in his move back from Paddan Aram to his homeland.  God commanded him to go back but he was concerned about the brother he had left behind nearly 20 years ago who was plotting to kill him.  (Genesis 31:3, 13) Jacob had taken this brother’s birthright and stolen his father’s blessing.  He had also just left his father-in-law upset by leaving.  Jacob sent his family across the Jabok, a tributary of the Jordan River.  He stayed behind to pray.

That night “a man wrestled with him until daybreak”.  (Genesis 32:22-31) This “man” touched Jacobs hip socket and put it out of joint.  Jacob would not let him go until this “man” blessed him.  The man asked Jacob his name–“Jacob” (cheat, supplanter).  The man changed Jacob’s name to “Israel” (wrestled with God and men and have overcome.)   The nation of Israel was birthed by a man wrestling with God!

Wrestling with God isn’t a bad thing if we are desperate for His blessing!  God loves it when we lay hold of Him as our only hope!  It’s a sure way to true blessing; but we may walk with a limp!  Thankfully, our old ways of cheating, lying and manipulation are left behind.  We have a “new Name” written down in Glory and are destined to overcome!

And God said to him, “I am God Almighty, be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and community of nations will come from your body.  The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”  Genesis 36:11-12

Tags : , , , , , ,

The beautiful land of Canaan!

Scripture Reading for February 24: Deuteronomy 8-11

In 1995, my son and I went to Israel and Egypt on a three week study tour.  In Egypt we visited the Great Pyramid, the Sphinx and traced the route of the Exodus.  The land of Egypt was primarily desert and dry rocky mountains until we got to the Nile River where water and irrigation made some green areas and lush groves of tropical plants.  The land was fairly flat and sandy.  Israel, on the other hand was varied in topography and had many different areas of climate and vegetation.  The Jezreel valley was a rich agricultural region with big farms. The vineyard country was terraced and had trees and vines.  The area around the Sea of Galilee was lush and had banana and pineapples growing.  There were herds of cattle and sheep in the Golan Heights.  Shepherds drove their flocks of goats and sheep and camped in tents in the Negev desert.  It was a varied land full of milk (goats and cattle) and honey (bees pollinating vines and flowers).

In our reading today, Moses describes the land that they are going to.  I thought it was interesting to read Deuteronomy 11:8-12 in light of my own journey to both places. It is a land flowing with milk and honey! (vs.9)   It’s a land of hills and valleys! (vs. 10) God sends the rain of heaven on Israel where in Egypt,  the land had to be irrigated! (vs. 11) In Canaan, God cares for the land and His eyes are upon it to bless His people! (vs.12)

As my son and I traveled through that land, God’s presence was evident to us.  It was a special land, although it is not remarkable or extraordinary.  God’s presence and His promises make it special!  God’s promises to Israel and His faithfulness to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob stand as a testimony to all believers.  Four thousand years after Abraham, his descendants are still in that land and are taking possession of it!  They have defeated armies more numerous and stronger, because God was with them.  (Deuteronomy 11:23,25)  They are still being gathered from the nations and settling in that land after years of being scattered!  It is a land that God cares for and His eyes are upon it continually!  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!  A blessing is promised those who bless Israel!  (Genesis 12:3)

Tags : , , , , , ,

The Altar at Bethel

Scripture reading for January 13th: Genesis 32-36

Can you imagine working for seven years for the girl you loved, only to wake up on your wedding morning with her sister?  (Genesis 30:25)  Can you imagine working another 7 years for the girl and your father-in-law, who changes your wages all the time?  Can you imagine rivalry for a husband’s affection in a home with two wives and four concubines?   Jacob turned to building altars to meet with God.  Prayer was the only way to make it through the trouble!

One day after nearly 20 years in Paddan Aram, God spoke to Jacob about returning to his homeland.  (Genesis 31:3)  Jacob gathered up his family and set out with his flocks.  Laban came after him and confronted him, but God dealt with Laban to let him go.  God is so thorough with His plans that when He speaks, we can be certain that they will come to pass.  After wrestling with God, Jacob successfully returned to his homeland and Esau made peace with him.  In Canaan, he bought a plot of ground near Shechem and set up an altar and called it “Mighty is the God of Israel“.  (Genesis 33:20)  Jacob tried to honor the Lord who had so blessed and helped him.

During this stay at Shechem one of Jacob’s daughters, Dinah, was raped by one of the men of Shechem.  This infuriated her brothers and two of them secretly plotted to get even.  Revenge may seem sweet momentarily, but only God can repay!  The murder of the townsmen by Levi and Simeon brought trouble on Jacob’s family and he became fearful.  He evidently sought the Lord and God spoke to him, “Go up to Bethel and settle there and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.” (Genesis 35:1)  God again met Jacob and changed his name to Israel!  “Israel” means “conquered by God”!

We note again the ongoing conversation and direction from the Lord that Jacob had.  He was in covenant relationship with God and God was caring for him through all his troubles.  Bethel became an early center of worship in Israel.  Jacob learned how important it was to follow God and worship regularly.  The altar was established as a place to meet with God through sacrifice.

Tags : , , , , , ,

Famous Last Words–the Lion Roars!

Scripture reading for January 17th:  Genesis 48-50

Have you ever been at the bedside of a loved one who was soon to enter eternity?  If they are alert and able to talk, we listen for every word and thought. In this present time,  drugs for pain control limit our contact or the dying person’s ability to communicate.  Joseph or someone in the family took down  Jacob’s  last words to each family member.  He gave a special blessing to Joseph’s two sons, Ephriam and Manasseh.  He then spoke a word, also recorded,  over the other sons.  (Genesis 49:9-20)

The blessing of Joseph’s sons effectively made Joseph the first-born.  Israel blessed Joseph and adopted the boys. In this way, Joseph would get the double portion. ( The first-born was to get a double portion of the inheritance.)  The other brothers had tried to kill Joseph and cut him out, but God re-established his place and doubled the inheritance!  Israel also chose Ephriam over Manasseh.  The younger over the older.  All blessing and God’s reward comes not from birth order but Divine order!  God alone knows the hearts and the end from the beginning!

One other blessing is worth noting.  Judah also received a word in Genesis 49:8-12.  Judah was told that his brothers would praise him. (His name means “praise”.)  His hand would be on the neck of his enemies and his father’s sons would bow down to him.  He was called a “lion’s cub”.  Jesus was the offspring of Judah in the genealogy of Matthew 1:3.  He is known as the “Lion of Judah” (Revelation 5:5)  He triumphed over all God’s enemies!  (Colossians 3:15) He is King of Kings and rules over nations!   (Revelation 15:3-4) Through some of the “last words” of Israel, written almost 4000 years ago, we have a prophecy of Jesus Christ!

Israel finally made Joseph swear to take his bones back to the promised land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel).  He so believed in God returning and that land being his property that he wanted to be buried there.  Israel got his wish and awaits the resurrection in the near future!  What famous last words!  What a way to go! The only thing better  will be the rapture!

What would you say if you just had a very short time left here on earth?  What words would you leave with those closest to you?  Would your faith be evident in you life and statements?

“You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son.  Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness–who dares to rouse him?  The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” Genesis 49:9-10.

“When Jacob had finished  giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.” Genesis 49:33

Tags : , , , , , , ,

Wrestling with God–God Wins Again!

Scripture Reading for January 13:  Genesis 32-36

Have you ever felt that God has told you to do something that you knew had the potential for trouble?  You know you heard the Lord but needed reassurance that it was going to work out in spite of the very real potential.  Our first move away from home to pastor a church in Washington was like that.  We were used to being around family and familiar surrounding.  The church we took had had some problems too.  We were not sure they would like us or love us when the going got tough.  We wrestled some concerning our move of 2000 miles with our daughter just ready for her senior year in a good Christian high school.  We had told God we would go anywhere, but not necessarily this far! 

Jacob faced just such a challenge in his move back from Paddan Aram to his homeland.  God commanded him to go back but he was concerned about the brother he had left behind nearly 20 years ago who was plotting to kill him.  (Genesis 31:3, 13) Jacob had taken this brother’s birthright and stolen his father’s blessing.  He had also just left his father-in-law upset by leaving and losing his family and herds to Jacob’s shrewdness.  Jacob sent his family across the Jabok, a tributary of the Jordan River.  He divided them in groups and sent gifts for Esau but was in great fear and trembling when he heard Esau was coming with 400 men to meet him.  He stayed behind to pray.

That night he was alone and Scripture says “a man wrestled with him until daybreak”.  (Genesis 32:22-31) This “man” touched Jacobs hip socket and put it out of joint.  Jacob would not let him go until this “man” blessed him.  The man asked Jacob his name–“Jacob” (cheat, supplanter).  The man changed Jacob’s name to “Israel” (wrestled with God and men and have overcome.)   The man wouldn’t give Israel his name, but did bless him and left.  Israel named the place “Peniel”.  This name states that he believed he had seen God face to face and was spared!  Thus the nation of “Israel” was born out of this amazing wrestling match!  God wins again! 

Wrestling with God isn’t a bad thing if we are desparate for His blessing!  God loves it when we lay hold of Him as our only hope!  It’s a sure way to true blessing, but we may walk with a limp!  It’s a humbling thing to be touched by the Lord!  We will never walk the same way again!  Thankfully, ways of cheating, lying and manipulating to get our way are left behind.  Our past is gone!  We have a “new Name” written down in Glory! 

And God said to him, “I am God Almighty, be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and community of nations will come from your body.  The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”  Genesis 36:11-12 

“He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.  I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”  Revelation 2:17

Tags : , , , , , ,