Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“And he said unto him, ‘What is thy name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ And he 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.’”
Genesis 32: 27, 28
King James Version
“The God of Our Future”
Promises You Can Depend Upon
“It is not the going out of the port, but the coming in, that determines the success of a voyage.”
Henry Ward Beecher
Is there something in my life that, like Jacob, I need to have God tell me, “_________________(your name)you have prevailed?”
“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”
…“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised….”
Hebrews 10: 36
New International Version
Jacob and Rachel and Leah were on their way to a new land and to a new life. This life was the “future” God had purposed for them.
But, like sometimes happens, the past reared its ugly head. Jacob got word that his brother, Esau, was marching toward him with an “army” of 400 men. Frankly, I don’t blame Jacob for being filled with fear when he heard this threatening news. Genesis 32: 7 reports that Jacob was, “greatly afraid and distressed.” With fear as the controlling force of his life at that moment, Jacob divided his group into two parts. This way he felt if Esau attacked one group, the other could run for their lives. Then Jacob went to God and begged for His protective power to surround his family.
Jacob knew that his greediness and desire for the birthright was at the core of his brother’s anger, so he decided to try to undo his “possession grabbing” act and sent gifts to his brother – 200 she goats, 20 he goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 30 milch camels and their colts, 40 kine, 10 bulls, 20 she asses and 10 foals. A veritable treasure of livestock. That’s not all. Jacob told the men who were taking these animals to Esau, to tell his brother, “They are from thy servant, Jacob. It is a present sent unto my lord, Esau” (Genesis 32: 18, K.J.V.). What a different attitude Jacob portrays now. No arrogance. No greediness. No deceit. Just a servant coming to his lord, gifts in hand, asking for kindness to be extended to him and his family. The Bible tells us Jacob thought he could “appease” Esau. I want to stop here and have us think about Jacob’s action. We as humans, when trying to fix what is broken, think our great personality and charm or our ability to lavish gifts on others will make up for the harm we have done. This isn’t true! In fact, I want to go even a step further. We often treat God the same way. If I give a big gift, if I act better, if I do the right things, I come to the conclusion that I can “appease” God. I believe I can make an angry God accept me. And yet, the Bible tells us God doesn’t want or need our good acts or offerings for His love is an unconditional love. A love that draws us with long-suffering cords of love.
Once all the gifts were on their way, Jacob sent his wives and children over the ford Jabbok and this is what the Bible says: “Jacob was left alone.(Genesis 32: 24, K.J.V.).” Before God could reveal to Jacob the wonderful future He had planned for him – God needed to have Jacob all to Himself. I think all of us, who are truly searching for God’s will to be revealed in our lives, will at some point face a moment of aloneness with our King. For each of us, that moment comes at a different time and in a different place. For the thief on the cross, that moment came when he looked into the face of Jesus, hanging on the cross and pleaded, “Remember me!” The thief had to face the reality that he had messed-up his entire life and deserved the punishment he was enduring. Yet, in that moment of truth, this lost thief found hope and forgiveness in the face of Jesus.
The same thing happened to Jacob. In his time of “aloneness,” a man came and wrestled with Jacob until “the breaking of the day.” And in that night of arm-to-arm combat, Jacob recognized that this was no earthly man. So he begged this “Man” for a blessing for he had come face-to-face with the truth of who He was. Jacob knew he was looking into the face of God. At this point in Jacob’s profound reality check of his own life, God informed him that the past, including his name which meant “supplanter” no longer applied to the man in God’s future. Jacob’s future was now to be Israel – the prince.
An encounter alone with God and a reality check with who he had been, was the Heavenly force that propelled Jacob from a deceitful, sneaky past – to a future as a prince of the Most High. What’s more, God showed Jacob that he had nothing to fear from his past for Esau would accept him with gracious kindness. Genesis 33: 4 (K.J.V.) tells us “Esau ran to meet him (Jacob), and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.”
What a moving scene for all of Esau’s men and Jacob’s family to witness. And this wasn’t brought about because Jacob “appeased” his brother with a bunch of gifts or because Esau threatened his brother.
This scene of reconciliation took place because the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – your God and my God, wiped away the past; infused the present with His mercy and truth; and filled the future with plans that would give Jacob the life God wanted for him.
May you and I accept the future God has for us when in that moment of aloneness and reality and truth, we recognize that as daughters of the King, our Father has a purpose for our future that will be “abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
“Children of yesterday,
Heirs of tomorrow,
What are you weaving?
Labor and sorrow?
Look to your looms again.
Faster and faster
Fly the great shuttles
Prepared by the Master,
Life’s in the loom,
Room for it –
“Song of Hope”
“We bring our gratitude to You
For guidance in our lives,
For those whose love has touched our hearts
And made our souls revive.
We bring our thanks for caring strength
That holds us on our way,
And brings us closer to Your heart,
And drives our fear away.
Support us in our weaknesses
And make Your love come near
And pray that You will bless us too
With all the strength we need.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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