Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Blessings of God

This morning I was reading about Jacob in the book of Genesis.  He had come to a place of desperation.  He was returning back to his homeland, and he was fearful of the reception he would receive.  He had fled twenty years earlier because he deceived his father into giving him, his brother's blessing.  His brother, Esau, wanted to kill him.  Now God had spoken to Jacob telling him to return home.

Jacob sent word to his brother that he was coming home and hoped that his brother would receive him.  The word that returned to Jacob was that his brother Esau was coming with 400 men!

Jacob was terrified and in great distress!

After dividing his people and animals into two groups and sending gifts to Esau, Jacob was left alone.  He had done all he knew to do, now he turned to God.  On that night, he received the response to his cries.  A "man" appears and wrestles with Jacob all night.  During the course of this wrestling match, the "man" tells Jacob to let him go, but Jacob refuses to let him go until the "man" blesses him.

And the "man" does.

As I read the statement, "Then he blessed him there," I pondered the thought, "What was the blessing?"  Here are some thoughts.

  • He had an intimate, face to face encounter with the living God, and lived.
This "man" was God himself.  Jacob recognized the significance of this encounter.  It was not everyday that a person was able to see the face of God and live.  In fact, later God talks about the friendship that he has with Moses.  He spoke face to face to him, not in dreams or riddles, but clearly. Numbers 12:6-8, deut 34:10.  This special friendship was reserved for a select few.  Abraham was also called a friend of God.  James 2:23 God spoke directly to Abraham, face to face, revealing his plans and purposes.  And  let us not forget that Adam walked with God every day, in the cool of the day.

Jesus calls his followers, not simply servants but friends.  

John 15:14-17 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Let us follow Jacob's example and cling to the living God, DON'T LET HIM GO.

  • Jacob received a new name--Israel
Jacob's name meant deceiver.  Deceit was his way of living.  He obtained his brother's birthright and blessing that way.  He also left his father-in-laws's home through deceit.  This was how Jacob operated, through his wit.  Now God changed his name to Israel which means "he struggles with God."  Now Jacob's way of living and thinking was changed.  God was saying, "No more deceit, come to me. "

This story reminds me that I don't need to use wit, manipulation, or any of my devices to bring God's plans to fulfillment in my life.  I need only to look to God and fully obey Him.  It also reminds me that often my thinking is ALL WRONG, and God needs to completely change my thinking.

Humans live "trying to figure things out" for themselves.  We do what we think is right, or at least what we think will bring about the outcome we want.  God calls for a completely new way of living and thinking.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

If you know the rest of Israel's story, you know that God brought his plans and purposes to pass.  Israel was blessed and the entire world has been blessed through Israel.  God plans are always immeasurably bigger than we can fathom, and he gladly fulfills his plans if we will allow Him do his great work.  

Cling to God today and receive His blessings:

a special friendship
A new way of thinking and living

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