24th June 2018

The Story of Jacob 

“Jacob said, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he replied, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.’”
Genesis 32:29-30 (NIV UK)

Ever heard of ‘middle child’ syndrome? It’s the “won’t-take-NO-for-an-answer” attitude some middle children or second born kids exhibit, spurred on by always having to fight just that little bit harder than their older siblings. A feeling I know personally, because I’m a second born child. I had an elder brother. I always felt that I had to approach life with just a little bit more cunning and fight.

Turns out I’m not alone! You might remember the story of Jacob and Esau, sons of Isaac. Esau, the first son, was a born leader, clear favourite of his father. Jacob, born second, was underdog in every way but one—his cunning. And it was that which came into play when one day he disguised himself as Esau, and stole his birthright blessing.

Esau was furious, and vowed revenge. Years later he made good on that promise, pursuing Jacob who stayed up all night, trying to think his way out of the situation. Then something strange happened: a divine being visited him. But instead of welcoming this stranger, Jacob fought him!

Scripture tells us that they wrestled all night, Jacob refusing to yield until he was blessed. As day was breaking, the stranger dislocated Jacob’s hip. Even then, Jacob wouldn’t let go. He fought the pain, until the stranger relented, blessed him and changed his name to Israel, which means, “he who struggles with God.”

What I love about this story is how Jacob channeled his fighting spirit and turned it into something which allowed him, literally, to cling to our Lord. That has inspired me countless times, because choosing the incarnational life offered by Christ is sometimes hard! Our ‘grip’ on Christ can slip. Paul describes his experience: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15).

No one said life as a Christian would be easy. Jesus himself warned and prayed about the difficulties we would experience. But at the same time, we know (by Jacob’s example) that we can fight to receive God’s blessing. Energy and discipline and exertion, however, is not required of us because somehow God doesn’t want to bless us, but rather because there are obstacles between us and God which prevent us from receiving what God has to give us. Jesus has actually made provision for us, offering us a share of his own sanctifying power and presence by his Word and Spirit. As we seek Christ with that fighting spirit, pushing aside every obstacle, we will find that he is faithful to reach us.

I pray that you remember Jacob and cling to the Lord, seeking him with the kind of fervency and strength that refuses to let go. Remember his example, so that we can count on our Lord faithfully to meet us and transform us from ‘Jacob’ into ‘Israel’, from our old into a new creation—finding renewed life in him.

Gracious Father, we ask that you will help us to remember how Jacob clung to you through thick and thin until you blessed him. We seek to do the same, as we pray in Jesus’ name.

Study by Greg Williams


About the Author:
Greg Williams is Vice President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in North Carolina, USA.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Email: admin@daybyday.org.uk

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