Monday, February 27, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Genesis 32-35
After an earlier review of the chapters and events leading up to today’s scripture reading, we continue our devotional commentary in Genesis 32 with Jacob anticipating the arrival of Esau, his elder brother whose birthright he had stolen twenty years earlier. Reminded of the proverb, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle” (Proverbs 18:19), Jacob feared Esau, even after the passing of twenty years, might be waiting to exact revenge against him (32:3-5).
When he was told his brother Esau was coming with four hundred men, Jacob felt his fears would be realized (32:6). Preparing for the worse, Jacob divided his household, wanting to spare his family and possessions from a total loss should Esau attack (32:7-8). Praying to the LORD, Jacob sent gifts to his brother in hopes of appeasing his wrath (32:9-23).
Knowing he would face his brother the next day, Jacob spent the night alone, perhaps pondering what the morning might bring upon him and his family. It was in the solitude of the night that the LORD appeared to Jacob in the physical form of a man and wrestled with his body and soul (32:24-32). Even with his thigh out of joint, Jacob wrestled with the LORD until he received assurance of His blessing (32:25-28). The LORD then blessed Jacob (whose name meant trickster or schemer) with the name “Israel” (meaning one who has power with God).
Jacob, now named Israel, faced the next morning a changed man. He had spent his life scheming and wrestling with God; however, he was transformed after seeing “God face to face” (32:30). No longer a man relying upon his own wit, the painful limp in his stride would remain a constant reminder of the night God broke his will and not only give him a new name, but also made him new man…a man who has power with God (32:30-31).
In the words of A.W. Tozer, “The Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him” [The Divine Conquest (Harrisburg, PA: Christians Publications, 1950), p. 53]. Jacob had come to the end of himself and the God of his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac was his God. More than an intellectual assent to the person and promises of the LORD, Jacob’s life was so transformed he was a new man…no longer Jacob, he was Israel. If you saw him, you would recognize him; he was a man with a limp whose faith was in the LORD.
What about you friend? Does your life reflect the testimony of a man or woman who has come face to face with the reality of your sinfulness and need of a Savior? If you say, “yes”, then what was true of Jacob, will be true of you: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith