It’s really easy to obey God when it seems as if God is for you. When He is giving you instructions that lead to victory, financial increase, debt release, material blessings, etc. But, what about those other times. Those times when He speaks a word to you or gives you an instruction to do something, and it seems that perhaps God has lost his mind or has forgotten the purpose and mission for your life. I’m talking about the times when His instructions cause you to face the exact thing that you have been running away from, hoping and praying that you would never have to come face to face with, or the thing that you know will cause you some hurt and pain in your life. Yes, obedience is required even in those times, but how many of us can honestly say that we still make our resolve (even in those situations) “you can use anything Lord, you can use me”? Obedience to God will often cause you to go up against your worst nightmare. Don’t believe hang around for a minute and I will prove it to you. Before us today is the narrative concerning Jacob’s struggle with God. In our text, we see Jacob at a point that is often preached about, but rarely ever is it discussed to provide us with an understanding of the event that had taken place. So, allow me a moment to paint the picture for you.
Jacob was the second born of a set of twins born to Issac and Rebekah. The first born was his older brother Esau. Back in those times, the eldest child would be the child to receive the birthright blessing (a blessing bestowed upon the child in the event that the father should pass or be absent for an extended period of time), and as a result would inherit a double portion of the fathers inheritance. In addition, this blessing also gave the individual charge over the family and all within it, including the siblings and widows. This blessing was originally Esau’s to have, but Jacob managed to swindle or trick Esau out of his birthright blessing. How? When Esau was tired and hungry, Jacob held back feeding him until Esau released his birthright to him (Jacob). Now, understand that it was no coincidence that Jacob displayed this sort of behavior for he came from a line of tricksters and deceivers. His mother was one, and perhaps the queen of it. Why do you say that Kean? Check out what happens next.
Issac knows that his death is approaching so he tells his eldest son, Esau, to go hunt and kill an animal and prepare a meal for him to eat. Once he had eaten he was going to bestow the birthright blessing onto him. Rebekah hears this, tells Jacob about it, and hatched a plan to deceive Issac into thinking that Jacob was Esau. She sent him to get two baby goats and disguised him as hairy (because Esau was a hairy guy) so that he could pass the test when Jacob attempted to verify that he was indeed blessing Esau. Jacob did as his mother told him, went in to provide dinner for his father, lied and conned his father into believing that he was someone he was not, and took the blessing from Esau. Esau came back and found out what happened, and he became furious with his brother. As a matter of fact he hatched a plan that he was going to grieve the loss of his father then once that was over, kill his brother (Jacob). Here’s my question. The birthright blessing could be both bestowed and rescinded. Why didn’t Issac rescind the blessing from Jacob when he discovered the whole thing had been a con? I want to suggest he was reminded of what God had said when Rebekah was carrying the boys in her womb, the older will serve the younger (Genesis 25:23). Can I make yet another suggestion? I believe since God already knew what was going to be done, He had already planned to teach Jacob that you can trick and deceive all but me. Furthermore, He already had in store to give Jacob a taste of his own medicine. Check this out.
When Rebekah learned that Esau had plans to kill his brother Jacob, she sent Jacob away. She came up with this story about how she feared for her life if Jacob was to marry from the Cannaites in order to have Jacob sent to her brother’s house (Laban) to hide away from Esau. While Jacob was there he saw this girl by the name of Rachel and she was bad. I mean just gorgeous in his eyes. He told Laban that he would serve him for seven years in order to have Laban give his daughter Rachel to him to wed. After seven years, Jacob comes and says that I have done all that I have said I would and it is now time for me to have my bride. Laban sent a girl to him and he laid with her, but Jacob realized that Laban had in fact deceived him by withholding Rachel from him. Instead, he gave him Leah his older daughter; the daughter whom Jacob thought was a sight for sore eyes. Jacob said this is not what we agreed on, and Laban said I know that but it is tradition that the oldest be given away before the youngest. Therefore, stay and serve another seven years and I will give you Rachel. Jacob did and he finally got her, but this time God got involved. Jacob loved Rachel so much but he despised Leah. As a result, God shut up Rachel’s womb and she bore him no children. Leah bore him four sons. Rachel decided to have her maid lay with her husband to birth her some children and she did. Leah did the same and her maid conceived also. After that, she (Leah) conceived yet two more times. Rachel was still without. Shout cue on the way! Could it be that God was teaching Jacob that I am the person responsible for bestowing blessings upon people, and although you have a birthright from your father it is my birthright that officially seals the deal? You missed it! In other words, could God have been saying unless I birth you out into a position, unless I look favorably upon you, unless I stamp my seal of approval upon you, or unless I release the blessing upon you nothing will be as though you thought it ought to be?
Now, Jacob has finally left Laban’s country and is journeying in his own. God comes to him and says to go back to the land of his father and He would be with him. Wait. Go back to the land where I committed an offense against my family and my brother had set out in his heart to kill me? There it is. Jacob was now on course to meet his worse nightmare, and he had to do it not knowing where they stood. Why? He hadn’t had any communication with them, especially his brother. Allow me to interject this nugget of information right now. Sometimes God will tell you to do somethings that you may not completely understand or cannot see your way, but you have to do it anyway. In other words, you have to go blind while wholeheartedly trusting and depending on him. Jacob tries to send a peace offering to try and smooth things over, but his servant reported back that Esau has come out to meet you and has with him an army of 400 right behind him. This send Jacob into a frenzy, and he did what anyone of us would have done in that situation. He began to pray and tell God how undeserving he was of God’s mercy and how he wanted God to save him from his brother. However, God did not immediately respond to him. So what does Jacob do? He goes and starts dividing up things or preparing for a just in case scenario. Later on that night, still tormented by the thought of having to face the one whom he has wronged, Jacob entered into a deep intercession with God, to the point where his intercession became a wrestling match. This sounds familiar. Where have I heard this? Come here Jesus. I’m reminded of the time Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and was wrestling with God concerning his death. However, I now have a question: How does one wrestle with God?
To wrestle with God is not the same as wrestling with men, because when you wrestle with God you have to understand that he is not flesh meaning you cannot physically grab a hold of him. However when you release your faith and you release your expectation that is how you get God’s attention. What does this mean? When you are faced with a series of attacks being launched by the enemy, and it feel as if you cannot take not another blow you enter into a level of spiritual warfare that is both greater than your ability and capacity to withstand. Once you hit this level of spiritual warfare, the only way to remain standing and steadfast is to be able to get God’s attention. How do I do this? It is not done by the releasing of your frustration and your fear, but by the releasing of your faith. That’s when God has to stop by and see about you. That’s when God turns his attention towards you and dispatches angels to come and strengthen you. If you be so blessed you might just have the ability to cause an Angel of the Lord to appear just as Jacob did according to our text.
It’s only when your opposition and oppression seems so great it may very well cost you your life, but you still resolve within yourself that I must continue on and complete the task or assignment that He has set before me. Need Bible? Job gives us one way of resolving great grief and oppression at the hands of the enemy. After all he had endured he resolved within himself, “Though He slay me yet will I trust him (Job 13:15).” Need another one? Jesus resolved within himself before even enduring the attacks of the enemy that would cause him to experience severe oppression, “…not my will, but thine be done (Luke 22:42).” In other words, you’ve got to make up your mind that through heartache, heartbreak, storm, rain, pain, shame, and everything else comes against me, I will continue to do the will of God for my life. If that requires me to enter into severe affliction then so be it. Why? This one thing I’m sure of, the enemy that I face today I will see him again no more when I decide to stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord (Exodus 14:13). I feel my help coming now.
Can I close this thing out? When we decide to be obedient to God and do what He tells us to do (no matter how difficult it may be) we have now positioned ourselves to be able to get God’s attention. As a result, He has to stop by and bless us and ensure that we have what we need to get through it. Shout I Won’t Let Go! I may have to go up against Pharaoh and his entire army, but I Won’t Let Go! I may have be surrounded by nothing but water and the enemy closing in behind me, but I Won’t Let Go! I may be in my wilderness season facing uncertainty and plenty of impossibility, but I Won’t Let Go! I may be standing right in front of what God has for me and it may not be available due to it being occupied right now, but I Won’t Let Go! I may have to go through the fiery furnace as a result of my commitment to God, but I Won’t Let Go! I may have to face a lion and sleep in the same den with it, but I Won’t Let Go! I may have to go up against Goliath, but in spite of I Won’t Let Go! Drive it home boy! I think I will! I may have to go through joblessness, homelessness, penniless, and friendless, but through it all I Won’t Let Go! I may have to suffer in my body physically, mentally, sickly, and spiritually, but I have the resolve that the same God that did it before will show up and do it again. Therefore, I Won’t Let Go! I may be facing persecution on my left, satan’s messenger as a thorn on my right, the wall of Jericho in front of me, and enemies from the rear shouting and praying that it all will crucify me. Yet, through it all I’ve made up my mind a long time ago that I Won’t Let Go! Why?
I know that His grace is sufficient for me and His strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). So instead of complaining, instead of murmuring, and instead of focusing on what could happen, I’m going to release my faith and enter into a wrestling match with God. When God shows up, I’m going to grab a hold of him and tell that I Won’t Let Go until He blesses me! I Won’t Let Go until He strengthens me! I Won’t Let Go until He make me perfect! I Won’t Let Go until establishes me! I Won’t Let Go until he settles me! So as I prepare to leave you I just want to leave with this. After it was all said and done and the benediction was given, everything worked out for both Jacob and Jesus. My question is this: Are you hanging on until the benediction is pronounced, or are you giving your own benediction? Be blessed and stay encouraged!