Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Evening Sermon Notes -

Part VI: Christ's Ministry To Jacob: Weaning Jacob From Manipulating To Trusting God For Blessing
(Genesis 32:1-32 et al.)
  1. Introduction
    1. Numerous "self-help" Christian books abound: a recent catalogue advertises books on "reclaiming our well-being", discovering our "innate strengths" and using a "positive outlook" to "revolutionize" our lives!
    2. However, opposite these efforts to manipulate our world or our outlook for blessing, God's blessing arises from our utter dependence upon and obedience to Him, a lesson Jacob learned the hard way (as follows):
  2. Christ's Ministry To Jacob: Weaning Jacob From Manipulating To Trusting God For Blessing.
    1. When Jacob wrestled with "a man" in Genesis 32:24, this "man" was God in human form, Gen. 32:29-30.
    2. As we have learned in our series thus far, this is doubtless the "Angel of the Lord", the Preincarnate Lord Jesus Christ, cf. H. C. Leupold, Genesis (1974), Vol. II, p. 875. His appearance and activity sought to replace Jacob's lifelong, troubled history of manipulating to gain blessing with trusting the Lord for it:
      1. Since before birth, Jacob had struggled in his own power to find fulfillment, resulting in great troubles:
        1. While still in the womb, Jacob struggled with his brother for satisfaction, Gen. 25:21-22a, 25-26.
        2. At the time, his mother, Rebekkah asked God about this struggle, and He replied that two nations were in her represented in the twins that struggled there; they and their descendants would struggle with one another, and the descendants of the older would serve the younger, Genesis 25:23.
        3. At birth, Jacob had reached out to grasp the heel of his brother Esau, so he was named "Jacob," meaning "heel catcher," "trickster" or "supplanter," Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, ftn. to Genesis 25:26.
        4. True to his name, Jacob supplanted Esau of his birthright and stole his father's blessing on the firstborn, Genesis 27:36. Yet, this action led Jacob to have to flee from Esau for his life, 27:41-43.
        5. Hence, Jacob was sent away by his parents to live with his uncle Laban, Genesis 27:42-28:2.
        6. Living with these relatives, Jacob came into competition with his uncle, Laban who himself was a supplanter like Jacob, Genesis 31:2-7a. God graciously helped Jacob in fulfillment of His promise to bless him back at Bethel when he had left Canaan for Laban's realm, Genesis 31:7b-13.
        7. Now, after leaving Laban's land to return to Canaan, Jacob heard his brother, Esau who had wanted to kill him, was heading to meet him with the fearful threat of four hundred additional men, 32:6.
        8. Defenseless against Esau with all of his possessions and family, Jacob trusted God but also tried to manipulate the situation to solve his problem with Esau: (1) he divided his company into two bands so that if one band was destroyed by Esau, the other might survive, Genesis 32:7-8. (2) Jacob then prayed for God's help (Genesis 32:9-12) while (3) trying to motivate Esau to be kind toward him by sending him gifts of appeasement on ahead to Esau, Genesis 32:13-23.
      2. The Preincarnate Christ then met and wrestled with Jacob in bodily form to intercept Jacob's lifelong manipulative, "self-help" tendency and get him to come to rely upon God for blessing, Gen. 32:24-25a.
      3. Jacob would not give up struggling in his human strength, so the Lord supernaturally touched the most powerful part of Jacob's body, his hip socket, leaving it deformed. At this point, Jacob realized he was utterly helpless before the "man" with whom he wrestled besides being helpless before Esau, 32:25b.
      4. Jacob also realized by this event that he wrestled with a supernatural Messenger, so he refused to let Him go until this Messenger of God had blessed him with God's blessing, Genesis 32:26.
      5. The Lord renamed Jacob with the name, Israel, meaning "God fights," Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, p. 81. From now on, instead of Jacob's finding blessing by trying to manipulate in his own human strength as he had until then, God would fight for Jacob to provide the blessing he needed!
      6. Consequently, the Lord arranged for a peaceful meeting between Jacob and Esau (Gen. 33), and Jacob called the name of the place of the wrestling event "Peniel," meaning "the face of God". This name recalled the fact that Jacob had met God face to face and been preserved by Him from destruction, be it from his brother or from God's judgment, Gen. 32:29-30; Ibid., Ryrie St. Bib., KJV, ftn. to Gen. 32:30.
Lesson: Christ's Preincarnate bodily wrestling match with Jacob taught him to STOP his lifelong effort to gain fulfillment by self-help manipulation and to START RELYING on GOD for blessings!

Application: May we not manipulate circumstances and people, but trust and heed God for fulfillment!