Monday, September 14, 2020

2020.09.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 32:13–32

 Read Genesis 32:13–32

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Jacob send to Esau, once he had prayed (Genesis 32:13–15)? In what manner were they to approach (Genesis 32:16)? What did he anticipate Esau asking each group (Genesis 32:17)? What were they to say (Genesis 32:18-20a)? What did Jacob hope that this would accomplish (verse 20b)? Who stayed with Jacob that night (Genesis 32:21-24a)? But what happened with him (verse 24b)? What did the Man do to Jacob (Genesis 32:25)? What did He ask Jacob to do in Genesis 32:26? What did Jacob want Him to do first? What does the Man ask in Genesis 32:27? What does the man change his name to in Genesis 32:28? What did Jacob ask in Genesis 32:29? How does the Man answer? What else does the Man do? What does Jacob conclude from this in Genesis 32:30? What does he call the place? What does he note about his life? Whom does he finally join across the river in Genesis 32:31? In what manner was he walking? By what (odd?) practice did Jacob’s descendants acknowledge this occasion (Genesis 32:32)?

Jacob thought that he was now facing his greatest danger ever: Esau and 400 men. 

The first time that he had encountered God, he hadn’t realized the safety that he was in. He had run all day from Esau with nothing but his staff, but when he had his vision, he saw the angels ascending and descending—a shift change, as it were, of the glorious beings whom God had appointed to him. And also God Himself, who spoke to Jacob the great promises that Jacob himself has just remembered in Genesis 32:9Genesis 32:12.

But Jacob has taken God for granted, and as a result he has not realized the danger that he is in. He thinks that Esau is his greatest danger ever, but he has been continually in a much greater danger: the wrath of God due unto his sin. And this is a danger that he is infinitely less equipped to survive.

This is the great lesson of the wrestling. Jacob has cried out to God for deliverance, and God responds by making him sleepless, exhausted, and disabled. These would be bad enough if he is to face Esau, but ultimately they don’t make much difference for facing God. 

A man could not face God in perfect physical condition, and this is because each of us begins in irreparable spiritual condition: both guilty before God’s wrath and also with hearts that are deceitful above all things (unknowable) and desperately wicked (unfixable).

What can be done for such men?

There is only one answer: God must struggle for us. This is what Jacob realizes has happened (Genesis 32:30), when the “Man” refuses to tell him his name and blesses him (Genesis 32:29). At once, Jacob realizes how great was the danger (that is now behind him) and that the only explanation for his survival is not the greatness of his strength or effort or persistence, but that God has been gracious to him—that God has struggled on his behalf.

This is what Christ has done for us. He has endured what we deserve from God. God has exhibited Him as the propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:25), and if God has done this for us, then we may know both that His love is determined to give us all things and also that (with Him having struggled for us) His justice now demands to give us all things (Romans 8:32).

So, God renames Jacob “Israel,” “God struggles,” saying “for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Jacob hasn’t met Esau yet, but he has already prevailed. For, God has preserved him from his greatest danger, and God will surely preserve him in and through his encounter with Esau, everything else, and death itself.

If you know that God has preserved you from His own wrath, out of love that gave you Christ Himself and made Christ yours, you can know this with everything that you ever face, even and especially death itself!

Have you faced the truth of your danger from God’s wrath? How can you ever survive it?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH456 “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners”

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