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Wrestling with God - Genesis Part 68

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
September 2, 2022 7:00 am

Wrestling with God - Genesis Part 68

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Well, a little bit of background before we dig in. We've seen that Jacob had a heart that was sensitive to God and was sensitive to spiritual things. We've also seen that he had an intensely strong self-will that caused him to take matters into his own hands all the time in order to get his way in life.

He would manipulate. However, here in Genesis chapter 32, Jacob has a divine appointment with Almighty God that's going to solve this duplicity forever. And here we go. Let's pick up the story. At the end of Genesis 31, God says, Remember that Jacob had been living for 20 years in a city called Haran in northeast Mesopotamia.

We'll show you a map. A long way from the promised land, a long way from his hometown of Beersheba way in the south. And the reason he was living there with uncle Laban, his mother's brother, was because he schemed against his brother Esau. He stole Esau's blessing and Esau had planned to kill him.

And so he had to run for his life. Now chapter 32 says, Then Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau. And the messengers returned to Jacob saying, We came to your brother Esau and he is coming to meet you. Well that's great news.

Now wait a minute. Accompanied by 400 armed men. Then Jacob was greatly afraid.

So Jacob prayed and said, Oh God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac who told me to return to my country and my relatives and you would bless me. Deliver me I pray from the hand of my brother Esau for I am afraid he will come and attack me and the mothers with their children. Okay, so far so good, right? This is what we do. We get afraid. We take it to the Lord. We pray about it. So far so good, right? Right.

Okay. But in order to resolve this rift between himself and his brother Esau, what did Jacob need to do next? Praying is wonderful, but to really fix this division between him and his brother, there was something Jacob needed to do.

Well, what does the Bible tell us to do when we have sinned against somebody else? The Bible tells us that Jacob needed to humble himself before Esau. He needed to own his sin before Esau. He needed to confess his sin before Esau and he needed to sincerely ask Esau to forgive him. This is God's way.

This is God's plan, right? Right. Okay. But Jacob didn't want to do that. And why didn't he?

Well, because our flesh never wants to do this, because it's humiliating to our fleshly pride to do this. And so instead, Jacob adopts a different plan, one that his human pride could live with, and that is he decides to try and bribe his brother Esau. Folks, here we go again. Here we go. Here's Jacob once again not doing it God's way, but doing it his way.

You with me? All right. So the Bible says, from the possessions he had with him, he, Jacob, selected a present for his brother Esau, 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 young lambs and 20 rams, 30 milking camels, and their young 40 cows and 10 bulls, 20 female and 10 male donkeys. Folks, that's a huge amount that just tells us how wealthy Jacob had become. And Jacob told his men, who were taking this bribe to Esau, he said, when my brother Esau meets you and says, to whom do you and all these animals belong? Then you are to say to him, they belong to your servant Jacob, and they're a what?

Say the word. They're a present sent by him to my Lord Esau. Now here in Washington, we know all about these kind of presents, don't we? Yeah, we're very familiar with these kind of presents.

All right. For Jacob thought, I will pacify him, my brother Esau, with these gifts, so that later when I see him, he will receive me favorably. So let's summarize. What's happened up to this point? As night falls on Jacob, Esau, who as far as Jacob knows, is still out to kill him, is on his way to meet him with 400 armed men, refusing to use God's method to fix this situation. Jacob has come up with his own method, but you know what's interesting? He never hears back from Esau. As far as he knows, when night time comes, Esau has refused the bribe and is still coming to get him.

Now look what happens next. Verse 24. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. And when the man saw that he could not overpower Jacob, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched out of joint. Jacob then said, please tell me your name. And the man said, why do you ask my name? And then the man blessed Jacob there.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, which means literally in Hebrew the face of God, because, Jacob said, I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared. Okay, now can we figure out together what's going on here? Huh? Can we?

Alright, let's do that. The man that Jacob wrestled with all night, who do you think that was? Well, who did Jacob just say he was? He was God. That's right. God appearing in human form, we call this a theophany, and God did the very same thing in Genesis 18, when he showed up with the two angels who went on from there to Sodom and Gomorrah, but the Lord was with them in human form when he came to tell Abraham that Sarah was going to have a child.

Alright, so good, we know who the man is. Now the wrestling match, what was that? Well folks, that was an outward symbol of what was happening inside Jacob. There was a wrestling match going on on the inside of Jacob, not just on the outside.

And what was the subject of this wrestling match? Well, very simply, the wrestling match was all about who was going to be the Lord of Jacob's life. Who was going to call the shots in Jacob's life? Who was going to have the final word in Jacob's life? Was Jacob going to do things his way? Or was Jacob going to do things God's way? And the Bible says that it was a Herculean wrestling match, that all night God tried to subdue Jacob's stubborn human will, and all night Jacob's stubborn human will fought back. Even as dawn began to break, the contest had still not been settled, so God dislocated Jacob's thigh, therefore Jacob had no choice but to capitulate. And then after he did this, you say, so Jacob lost? Well no, actually Jacob won.

You say, what? No he didn't, he lost. No he didn't.

He won because after he capitulated, I want you to say the next five words with me, ready? Then God blessed Jacob there. Then God blessed Jacob there.

Now, you know what's really interesting? Is that this is the very first time in the Bible that it's ever said that God blessed Jacob. Now God has protected Jacob before this. And God has provided for Jacob before this. And God has even prospered Jacob before this. God has even made promises to Jacob before this. But never before now does the Bible ever say that God was able to truly bless Jacob because, don't miss this now, only now has Jacob truly surrendered his will to God's will.

Do you understand what I'm saying? God can't bless us fully and completely until we surrender our will to his will and Jacob had never ever done that until this night here in Genesis 32. And the Bible goes on to tell us when we read the rest of the book of Genesis that this was not just a one time surrender of his life on Jacob's part, but it was a lifelong surrender on Jacob's part. Jacob was never the same man again. And as a result of that, right here in this chapter, God changes his name from Jacob to whom?

Israel, right. Change of name equals change of character. And this was a change of character for this man. And we can see it the very next morning. Look. In the morning, Jacob looked up and there was Esau coming with his 400 men. Watch. So Jacob went out and bowed down to the ground seven times, prostrated himself on the ground seven different times as he approached his brother.

In the ancient Near East, this was a common way to express humility, to express contrition, to express honor to the other person and sorrow over what you've done to that other person. So here Jacob is the very next morning doing it God's way. Do we see that? No chicanery, no scheming, no manipulation, no trying to bribe him, just doing it God's way, obeying God and trusting God for the results.

And you know what? The results were good. Verse four says, But Esau ran to meet Jacob after he had bowed down these seven times and embraced him and threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. There was a forgiveness. There was a reconciliation. There was a rapprochement that was wonderful when Jacob agreed to do it God's way. You say, what do you think would have happened if Jacob hadn't done it God's way? Well, I don't know for sure, but Esau didn't bring 400 armed men for nothing. You understand?

He brought them for a reason, but he changed his mind when Jacob approached him the way God told Jacob to do it. Praise the Lord, huh? Amen. Now let's hop and ask our most important question. You ready? All right, here it is.

Nice and loud. Everybody ready? All right, come on now. Here we go.

One, two, three. That was not good. Come on.

Ready? We can do better than that. Come on.

One, two, three. There you go. You say, all right, Lon, I know the story. I appreciate you explaining the story to me.

I think I understand what's going on here. But, you know, honestly, as a follower of Christ, I really don't see what this has to do with me. I mean, I have never had a wrestling match with God. Oh, yes, you have. Yes, you have. So have I. We've all had wrestling matches with God. Sure, you have.

In fact, many of us walked in tonight right in the middle of a wrestling match with God. You say, how do you know that? Because we're human.

I understand that. Maybe God's been asking you to forgive someone and you've been wrestling with him and saying, but I don't feel like it. Why do I have to go first? Or maybe God's been asking you to go humble yourself and ask someone else to forgive you. And you've been wrestling with God and saying, but I don't want to.

Or maybe God's been asking you to knock off the sexual activity between you and your boyfriend, you and your girlfriend, you and your fiancé because you're not married. And you've been wrestling with God and saying, why do I have to? Or maybe God hasn't provided you with a spouse and you've been wrestling with him and saying, this isn't fair. Or maybe God hasn't given you a child. Or maybe he's given you a child with extra special needs. Or maybe you've been wrestling with God and saying, why me? Or maybe God didn't give you that promotion you wanted or that honor you thought you deserved or that residency spot that you were trying to get or that house that you wanted or that deal that you've been trying to make come through or the grad school you wanted to go to or the college you wanted to go to. And you've been wrestling with God saying, Lord, why not? Folks, let me sum up what I'm trying to say to us tonight in one sentence.

It's this. Jacob won God's blessing by capitulating to God's lordship. And as followers of Christ, that's exactly how you and I do it.

Let me repeat that. Jacob won God's blessing by capitulating to God's lordship. And that's exactly how we as followers of Christ win God's blessing by doing the very same thing.

You know, just recently I had a wrestling match with God. The chairman of our Board of Elders, Larry Cooper, called me up and said, Lon, I think for this, that and the other reason, I would really like you to do this. Larry's my boss on the human level, and I didn't want to do it.

Just pure and simple. I didn't want to do it. It was insulting, I thought. It was humiliating to my flesh. And my first response on the inside is, I'm not doing that.

I didn't say that out loud because I value my job. But on the inside, I said, I'm not doing that. And I knew it was for the good of McLean Bible Church, what he was asking. I knew it was the right thing to do biblically.

I know the Bible. But my fleshly pride just flat didn't want to do it. Pure and simple. So, into the ring, the Lord and I went. You say, well, how did that work out for you? Well, I lost. That's how it worked out for me. I capitulated.

I went ahead and did exactly what he asked me to do. But it's okay that I lost. That's what I want you to understand. It's okay that I lost because 45 years ago, I dedicated my life to the lordship of Christ, which means, listen, that I agreed to lose every wrestling match between me and the Lord. Do you understand that?

I agreed. I'm going to lose them all, Lord. I may go in there and I may huff and puff and try to blow the house down, but when it's all over, Lord, I'm going to lose because that's the commitment I made.

I'm coming out of the ring having capitulated. Does everybody understand what I'm saying? Do you all understand what I'm saying to you? Okay. You say, well, Lon, frankly, I think if you were really spiritual enough, you wouldn't even have any wrestling matches with God anymore. All right.

Well, you know what? If you're that spiritual, you come up here and you preach. I'd be happy to let you come up here and preach.

You never have a wrestling match with God? You belong up here. Not me. I have them. Don't you? Don't you? Sure we do. Sure we do. It's okay to have the match as long as you make sure you lose.

You understand? Because the blessing of God, this is one of the great paradoxes of the Bible. When we lose, we win. When we lose to God's lordship, we win God's blessing. Amen? And that's the reason I made this commitment 45 years ago because, folks, I want God's blessing more than I want my way. I want God's blessing more than I want my will. I want God's blessing more than I want my plans. And that's why I made the commitment to the lordship of Christ. Hudson Taylor said, Christ is either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all. And so listen.

Look here. If you came in here tonight with an ongoing wrestling match with God over some of these things I mentioned or maybe something else, whatever it might be, as your pastor tonight, as someone who loves you, as someone who's been praying all week for you knowing this message was coming tonight, I want to beg you. I want to beg you to lose tonight. I want to beg you to capitulate tonight. I want to beg you to say uncle tonight. I want to beg you to agree to obey God and do it His way tonight. And then trust Him.

Whatever the results may be, trust Him. Friends, and I don't just want you to do this for just the one thing you're wrestling with Him now about. I want you to make this a commitment for the rest of your life that you are under the lordship of Christ and every wrestling match with Him you agree ahead of time you're going to lose. You with me?

Okay. Let's bow our heads together. And here's what I want to ask you to do. If the Lord's really spoken to you tonight about some wrestling match you're in and you're willing to capitulate and lose, you're willing to say uncle.

Maybe not just for this thing but for your whole life. Then I want to invite you in just a moment to come forward and join me down on the floor here. And by coming forward and standing here, I want us to say, Lord Jesus, you are Lord, not me. You are master, not me. Your will is what I obey, not mine.

And Lord, I'm sorry for wrestling with you. I give, we're going to do this your way. If that's you, we're going to sing a song about surrender and I want to invite you just come right on up and stand with me right down here on the floor.

Here we go. Spread the wind, spread the wind. Find me, Lord, as you draw me home. Desperate, desperate, Lord, I surrender. I surrender, I surrender.

With arms stretched wide, I know you hear my cry. Speak to me now. Speak to me now.

I surrender, I surrender. I want to know you more. I want to know you more.

I surrender, I surrender. I want to know you more. I want to know you more. Any of you guys standing here in the front, have a child that's not walking with the Lord, raise your hand. A mother, a brother, a sister you love that's not with the Lord, raise your hand. Okay, how about some of you out there?

Yeah? If you do, why don't you come up here and join us and let's surrender these people to the Lord. And I don't know about you, you do whatever you want, but I'm getting on my knees, I've got a son away from the Lord.

And I'm not prepared to approach the Lord standing up about that, but you do whatever you want. Why don't you come join us and let's surrender these people to the Lord. Here I am, down on my knees. Surrendering one.

Surrendering one. Fly with me, Lord, as you draw near. Dance before me. Dance before me. I surrender. Trench my soul with mercy and grace. A hunger and thirst. A hunger and thirst.

Unstretched, why? I know you hear my cry. Speak to me now. Speak to me now. I surrender. I surrender. I want to know you.

I want to know you. Lord Jesus, here we are on our knees before you, Lord Jesus. And as we've just sung, we know you hear our cry, oh God. As we cry for children away from Christ, as we cry for mothers and fathers, as we cry for brothers and sisters and friends who are lost. Lord, as we surrender our hearts to you and say, God, I'm done wrestling. I'm done fighting. I'm tired of that, oh God.

Uncle, uncle, I'm going to do this your way, Lord, and I'm just going to trust you. Not just for this one situation, oh God. I'm talking about for good. Change my name, Lord, in heaven.

Because as of today, my character is changing. I'm not doing it myself anymore. I'm not doing it my way anymore.

We're going to do it your way. Oh, Jesus, what a cleansing moment this is. How much we all need it, Lord. And Father, I pray that it would sweep through this church family this moment. That this would be a fulcrum moment in not just our life, but the life of our church family. That we might become not just a church of prayer, but a church of obedience, God.

And a church of surrender. Oh, Lord Jesus, you hear our prayer. And we know that as the mighty God of the universe, you're going to answer those prayers for these people that we've prayed for. You're going to take our surrender and you're going to turn it into more blessing than, Lord, we could have ever imagined doing it our way. Here we are, Jesus.

We may not be much, but everything we got is yours. And I love the fact, Lord, you take what we give you and you do more with it than we ever could. So do that with us, Lord, and with the people we love. And we pray these things in Jesus name. God's people said, Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-03 01:09:19 / 2023-03-03 01:18:27 / 9

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