From Jacob to Israel
Genesis 28:10-17; 32:24-29
INTRODUCTION Jacob and Esau exemplify as well as any two Biblical characters "the purpose of God according to election" [Romans 9: 11] and the working out of that purpose in the experience of the elect. Heretics on both sides of this perennial controversy either deny in effect that God has eternal purposes of salvation, or deny in effect that those purposes must be accomplished in human experience. God's choice of Jacob as one He loved was not based upon Jacob's character or good works: the choice was announced with "the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil." But having set His love upon Jacob, God so dealt with him that he came to know his Creator and Redeemer. Lesson may be outlined as follows: 1. The Vision, Genesis 28:10-12. a. Rest in sleep, 10-11. b. Revelation in sleep, 12. 2. The Vantage, Genesis 28:13-15. a. Blessing from paternity, 13 b. Blessings from posterity, 14. c. Blessings personal, 15. 3. The Verdict, Genesis 28:16-17. a. Presence to recognize, 16. b. Place for reverence, 17. 4. The Ventures, Genesis 32:24-26. a. Weakness in wrestling, 24-25. b. Winning through weakness, 26. 5. The Victory, Genesis 32:27-29. a. Power with God, 27-28. b. Power from God, 29. NOTES ON THE TEXT: THE VISION, Genesis 28:10-12. Before the perfect revelation of the written Word, God often appeared to His people in dreams and visions. The knowledge of God was transmitted by oral testimony from generation to generation, but God is able to use any means necessary to communicate with His people. Rest in Sleep, 10-11. Man is physically so constituted that he must have a certain amount of rest in sleep. Jacob's bed on this occasion was not as soft as some, but when the body is weary enough it will take rest wherever it can find it. Revelation in Sleep,12. Perhaps because our minds are often too full of worldly thoughts while awake, we may sometimes have better thoughts of God while we sleep. Some dreams and visions, however, may come from evil powers and influences; and so the Scripture was us against dreams that contradict the written Word of God [Jeremiah 23:25-28]. Jacob's dream seems to be prophetic and symbolic of the mediatorial work of the Messiah. See John 1:51.
THE VANTAGE, Genesis 28:13-15. With all his attempts to promote himself and get the advantage over his brother, Jacob now was informed that he should look to God for advancement according to His promises. Blessing from Paternity, 13. Esau also was the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham, but he did not know the God of Abraham and Isaac as Jacob did. Most of us in the world today have had both Christian and heathen ancestors. Let us be sure that we know the God of our Christian fathers, that we also may claim His blessings. Blessing for Posterity, 14. "Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations" [Deuteronomy 7:91. Blessings Personal, 15. Assurance of divine presence, assurance of divine keeping, assurance of divine leadership, assurance of divine faithfulness and power to accomplish divine promises -- what more could anyone ask for?
THE VERDICT, Genesis 28:16-17. It seems that Jacob's dream was so vivid, and so consistent with what he already knew of God's promises, that he had not the least doubt that God had spoken to him. Presence to Recognize, 16. Of course the Lord is in every place, but the sad fact is that usually we are not aware of His presence. Must we wait for dreams or visions before we recognize His presence? Shame on us! Let us believe His Word; let us pray and strive for a continual realization that God is with us! Place for Reverence, 17. In a sense, though this is especially true of His church, any place where we can recognize God's presence is "the house of God" and "the gate of heaven." Any place where God is surely is a place for reverence and worship.
THE VENTURES, Genesis 32:24-26. Now after twenty years Jacob was coming back to face the brother from whom he had fled for his life. He could not know how he would be received. Typically. he devised every means he could think of to win Esau's favor before the actual meeting. But he must learn again and more perfectly that his safety depended on the blessing of God rather than on his own schemes. Weakness in Wrestling, 24-25. Usually we get closest to God when we are "left alone." In verse 30 we find Jacob saying, "I have seen God face to face." No doubt the "man" who wrestled with Jacob was none other than a pre-manifestation of God Himself, the second Person of the Trinity; though perhaps Jacob did not recognize Him as such at first. How often do we find, when we have been struggling to prove our own strength, that we have been wrestling against God! And how often He must in some way cripple us or make us weak before we are willing to admit that he is far stronger than we! Winning through Weakness, 26. So Jacob learned that if he could not win against God, he could win with Him. Let us stop fighting Him and in our weakness simply cling to Him for the needed blessing.
THE VICTORY, Genesis 32:27-29. We can win with God only by surrender to Him. We are told this at the very beginning of our experience of faith, but we are spiritually forgetful, and therefore must learn the lesson again and again. Power with God, 27-28. Jacob must acknowledge himself Jacob the Heel before he can become Israel the Prince of God. Power with God and with men must be always and only the power of God imparted to us and operating through us. Power from God, 29. By this time it seems that Jacob was persuaded of the true character of the man with whom he had wrestled; his question was a humble seeking of confirmation. We obtain power from God to know Him as we suffer defeat at His hands, cling to Him in self-surrender, and receive from Him His blessings.
CONCLUSION [I Peter 5:6] This is a frequent theme in the Bible. If we try to lift ourselves up, God will cast us down; if we will but get ourselves down before Him, He will lift us up. ==================[From Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, October 31, 1975. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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