The Man Who Wrestled With God (9): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 32:22-32
In Genesis 32:22-32 Jacob finds himself in an unexpected wrestling match in what can only be described as one of the more strange accounts of Scripture. Yet strange as it is, when we look a bit deeper we realise it is a story we all can identify with at some level. A story of wrestling with God! God waited until Jacob was alone, in the darkness, then he attacked him. At first Jacob has no idea what has hit him, for God does not speak a word during this dark, lonely, terrifying night. It is not until daybreak that he also breaks his silence & gives Jacob a new name. Jacob had been wrestled & wounded by God in the dark, yet he refused to let go of God & now a new day had dawned for the man who wrestled with God.
The Man Who Wrestled With God (8): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 32:1-21
Even though Jacob saw God’s angels were with him here, as well as having God’s previous promise of his safe return home, he still became “greatly afraid and distressed” at the thought of meeting Esau again. This is encouraging because although Jacob had such tangible assurances of God’s protection he was still a man, who like us, wrestled with doubt & fear. In the previous section God orchestrated things so he had to confront Laban (the uncle who has wronged him) now in this part of the story he has to face Esau (the brother he had wronged). In this message we see how God helped Jacob confront his fear & we also find strategy for wrestling doubt & fear in the prayer Jacob prayed.
The Man Who Wrestled With God (7): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 31
In this part of the story God seems to orchestrate things so Jacob has to face Laban before leaving for home. God had told Jacob to return home for sure but the sneaky escape plan was not part of God’s idea. Jacob admitted he did what he did because he was afraid of Laban. Yet providence made sure he did not leave without facing him & because of this Jacob left for home with a covenant securing a better future for him & his family. In a similar way God in his mercy orchestrates our lives so we learn to confront what we fear instead of running from or avoiding things. Ultimately it’s truly knowing God’s favour that enables us to face our fears with courage. God’s ways might be the harder option at times but they bring much more freedom & security to our hearts in the end!
The Man Who Wrestled With God (6): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 30:25-43
The story of Jacob seems to move from one struggle to another. Here the struggle between his wives gives way to a struggle with his father-in-law. Here we find Jacob reasoning with Laban & then Laban cheating on Jacob before Jacob outwits him with a plan blessed by God. Jacob had shown great patience & many years of servitude but there comes a time when enough is enough. There are some characters you just can’t reason with & therefore you have to find a way to outwit them without losing your integrity. This is partly what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to be wise as serpents & as innocent as doves. The same Jesus who came as the hero of the Divine plan which outwitted the ultimate Laban, securing our escape from his control so we can return home to God our Father.
The Man Who Wrestled With God (5): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 29:31-30:24
This part of the story zooms in on the personal struggles & rivalry between Leah & Rachel, the two sisters who now find themselves married to Jacob. Both Leah & Rachel had their own personal wrestles & they each had something the other desperately wanted. It was because of their personal wrestles that they had this unpleasant rivalry with each other. Yet in the midst of their personal struggles & relational disharmony it becomes clear God has stepped into the ring with them & is working out his purpose of redemption both in them & the bigger story. Revealing God to be a God who is still functioning in the midst of dysfunction! This should give us faith & hope for our lives, relationships & the church!
The Man Who Wrestled With God (4): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 29:1-30
Since his encounter with God at Bethel there seems to be marked progress in Jacob. In this next part of the story we see him showing great patience & working honestly out of costly love for his future wife Rachel. In fact everything seems to be going very well until out of the blue Laban serves him a taste of the medicine he dealt his brother. This is not some kind of divine payback however, but rather the opportunity to be led forward in a divine process of transformation. In the same way getting ‘a taste our own medicine’ can be good for our soul when like Jacob we have the promise of God’s presence. For when we truly know God is with us & for us even the hardest trails have a way of softening our hearts. This is the grace of severe mercy.
The Man Who Wrestled With God (3): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 28:10-22
Jacob is in a place of loneliness, isolated from his family, away from home for the first time, way outside his comfort zone, in a place of danger & uncertainty with a stone for a pillow. Yet in the middle of all this he had a significant & life changing spiritual experience. Jacob wasn't looking for a personal encounter with God, he was running from the consequences of his own actions. Yet before he gets too far the grace of God catches up with him. Jacob had two very unusual experiences of God, the location of this first one he named "Bethel".
The Man Who Wrestled With God (2): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 26:34-28:9
The story of Jacob receiving the blessing instead of Esau was a battle for a father’s blessing. The blessing was everything in the story, the lengths the characters were prepared to go to & the desperation shown by Esau when he realised Jacob got there first. Thankfully as brothers & sisters in Christ we do not have to battle for our heavenly Father's blessing. Among other things this message aims to show us why.
The Man Who Wrestled With God (1): Sermons on the Old Testament character of Jacob.
Reading: Genesis 25:19-34
If there is a word that sums up the story of Jacob perhaps it is the word struggle. Jacob struggled with his brother Esau, he also had to struggle to marry the woman he loved & he struggled with God when he wrestled with him. Here we learn this struggle began in his mother’s womb, God revealed to Rebekah; “two nations are in your womb”. In the New Testament, God also reveals to us there is struggle between two kingdoms. One thing is clear in both struggles; ultimately it is always God’s unstoppable purpose that progresses. This should give us great confidence in prayer & faith no matter what struggles we face.
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