Today’s Reading: Genesis 32 – 35
We have been reading along on our journey of chronological Bible reading for 12 days now. The last few days we have been reading about Jacob, son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham. Along the way Jacob has not exactly been a superior role model for us. From the moment he was born he was striving to get ahead. In my post What a heel! we found out that even his name told us the story of how Jacob’s name means heel or deceiver. We did read along the way that he obtained the birth right and Abraham’s blessing of his brother Esau through quite deceptive means. My daughter is reading along with us, and just last night she was commenting on how hard it is to like Jacob, he just seems to have such bad character traits.
But as we read his story we find that Jacob is beginning to change. He makes honest approaches to arrange for the marriage with his love Rachel. He works for over 20 years for Laban to make the marriage to both daughters legitimate.
Yesterday in the post Genetics and Genesis, we read that Jacob gained very large herds of livestock after he made a deal with Laban. At first glance it might look like Jacob cheated or acted dishonestly, but we did read that God was blessing Jacob’s efforts.
Later in yesterday’s meeting when Laban and Jacob finally part ways, there are monuments and references made to how God had intervened. Jacob was beginning to give God more credit for the successes in his life.
Today we have more evidence that Jacob is learning more about God, God’s expectations and what it means to be a man of God. Jacob is quickly approaching a family reunion with his estranged brother Esau. Esau has every right to not be too excited to see his long lost birthright and blessing stealing brother. Jacob is concerned about the pending reunion and he decides to turn the issue over to God.
Genesis 32:9 –12 (NLT)
9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, you told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly.’ 10 I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps! 11 O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. 12 But you promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count.’”
Some things to note in Jacob’s prayer:
- He recognized who God was. vs. 9
- He drew upon God’s promises vs. 9, 12
- He was thankful to God and recognized how God had been at work in his live. vs. 10
- He looked to God for the solution to his problem vs. 11
In Matthew Henry’s commentary on this prayer he praises Jacob’s prayer and especially likes Jacob’s repeating of God’s previous promises… “The best we can say to God in prayer, is what he has said to us” If we know God’s word and the promises that are contained in it, then we can use them in our prayers, it shows that we are gaining an intimate knowledge of our Lord and Savior.
Jacob struggles in the night with God, literally (see Genesis 32:22 – 32). At the end of the struggle, Jacob asked for a blessing and is given one:
Genesis 32:28 (NLT)
28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
Jacob the heel becomes Israel the one who struggles with God. Once again a man who has a deep profound encounter with God gets a name change. See my early post Time for a name change?.
This story begins a long history of a people who struggle with God. Later as we read about their history we will see how the people struggle between their desire to please and honor God and their desire to go their own way.
Jacob started life as a less than perfect character, a character that is flawed and conniving. But as he begins to draw closer to God, he becomes more of a man of God. There is hope for us as we walk in this world, we can struggle with God and our own desires and slowly, as we let God in, we can become the children of God that honor their heavenly father.