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Bible Pathways - Jan. 11, 2009


January 11

Genesis 31

Highlights In Today's Reading:

An exciting climax to the personal problems and struggles Jacob has encountered in his life and thus far overcome. But Esau and 400 men are coming.

God reminded Jacob of his earlier experience at the same hallowed place where he had received confidence that God would protect and direct him, saying: I am the God of Bethel . . . where thou vowedst a vow unto Me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred (31:13). Jacob had mixed emotions and fears concerning this call to obey God and return to his native land where he knew that he must face his brother Esau, who had no fear of God and who had angrily vowed to kill him.

Jacob had just escaped from the hatred of Laban and his sons and was returning to his homeland when messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him. Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed (32:6-7). Twenty years earlier, Esau had said: The days of mourning for my father are at hand: then will I slay my brother Jacob (27:41). Therefore, it appeared that Jacob faced certain death unless God miraculously intervened.

This was a victorious event in Jacob's life. He recognized his helplessness and separated himself from everyone else and began to pray earnestly. All answers to our prayers are dependent upon this spiritual insight. Jacob prayed: I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies (32:10). Then Jacob stated his request: Deliver me (32:11), and reminded God of His promise: I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude (32:12). His assurance was the Word of God, His power and mercy. Jacob's intense prayer brought him to a new realization of the true source of his strength. Jacob based his prayer on God's faithfulness to His past actions and to His Word.

In desperation Jacob wrestled in prayer all night. An inner transformation of spirit resulted from this night of prayer, and God said: Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed (32:28).

Throughout the balance of Scriptures, whenever the name "Israel" is used, it is making reference to the spiritual man whom God had so richly blessed. Even to this day, the Jews are called by his spiritual name.

Christians do not always reflect their inner transformation in their outward behavior, but those who love Christ should always pray, as Jacob did: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which Thou hast shewed unto Thy servant (32:10).

Thought for Today:

Sometimes the strength of our flesh requires extraordinary measures in order to crucify it (Gal. 5:24).

Christ Revealed:

As the Angel (Messenger) of God who guides and provides our necessities (Gen. 31:11-13; Matt. 6:33; John 10:30).

Word Studies:

31:2 not toward him =not favorable; 31:7 suffered =permitted; 31:15 counted of him =considered by him as; devoured also our money =spent the money he got for us as dowries; 31:18 of his getting =which he acquired; 31:19 images =household idols; 31:30 longedst after =are homesick for; 31:31 peradventure =perhaps; 31:34 furniture =saddle; 31:36 wroth =angry; chode with =reprimanded; 31:50 afflict =mistreat; 31:52 over =beyond; 32:8 smite =attack; 32:10 bands =camps; 32:12 seed =descendants; 32:13 came to his hand =he had received; 32:15 kine =cows; 32:16 drove =herd; 32:21 company =camp; 32:31 halted =limped; 33:2 hindermost =last; 33:13 tender =weak, frail; 33:14 softly =slowly; 33:17 booths =temporary shelters.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for Radio Sri Lanka Broadcasts for the week sponsored by Mr. Derek Ronnie • Government Official: Rep. Michael Turner (OH) • Country: Tunisia (10 million) in North Africa • Major languages: Arabic and French • Islamic state — no open ministry for Christ is permitted; strict surveillance of all Christian activities • 99+% Muslim; .3% Christian • Prayer Suggestion: Give praise to God that His Word will stand forever (Is. 40:8).

Optional Reading: Matthew 11

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 4:4

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