We return to our study of the first book of the Bible, Genesis. We have seen the creation of the universe, the creation of man, male and female. The intimate relationship of God with the first man and woman, and we have seen the mysterious but disastrous fall of Adam in sin, in seeking to be autonomous a rule unto themselves. We have seen the first glimpse of Satan in his role and the deceiver. We have questions like, why was sin allowed to occur? God being all powerful certainty could have stop Satan from deceiving Adam and Eve but He did not. We don't have answers to questions that come to us as we read the revelation of God. The Bible does not tell us everything that we might want to know. We want more than what God has provided, but to what end? would it cause us to be more obedient to God? would it cause us to be a better person, would it limit the amount of sin that we do before God? God has presented a revelation that tells us of sin, of how sin removes us from an intimate relationship with God and that it incurs God's wrath upon us. God seems to think that this is the most important thing for us to know. How many people do you know that do not even consider what God obviously places a very high priority on. Let us pray for those that God has in our sphere of influence, that He would cause those who don't know Him to come be drawn to Him and that we might serve as a beacon pointing them to Christ.
Jacob has run for his life after conning his brother Esau. He has journeyed to Haran, to escape from Esau. On the way there he encounters God in a dream and God makes promises to him that are identical to the promises God made to his father and grandfather, Isaac and Abraham. We see the faithfulness of God. We see the power and majesty of God for right here in 2013 we, you and I, as Christians are the fulfillment of these promises God has made thousands of years ago. God powerful hand of providence, of election has come down through all the generations carrying out His eternal decrees. Maybe it should be enough for us concerning the seemly unanswered questions we might have
as we contemplate God bringing to pass all that He wants, and that everything is moving toward His determined purpose.
Jacob meets Laban who is certainly someone who uses deception and con toward Jacob. He agrees to let Jacob marry his daughter Rachel if he works for him for 7 years yet when it is time to consummate the marriage it is not Rachel he has married but her sister Leah. Jacob the conman has been conned. Jacob to gain Rachel who he loved agrees to work for Laban another 7 years. It is through Leah, Rachel and there servants Bilhah and Zilpah, that the twelve tribes of Israel descend from. God allows Jacob to prosper even though Laban tries to cheat him and con him, he cannot prevail against Jacob and Jacob get many flocks. He gains and gains and Laban decreases so much so that Laban and his sons no longer look upon Jacob as the great asset to themas he was at first for Laban was gaining initially because of God blessing Jacob. Jacob notes that he is losing favor so he decides it is time to leave. So while Laban is away he loads all that he has and takes his wives, children, flocks and he leaves. When Laban returns he discovers that Jacob has fled and he gathers his men and pursues Jacob. We are told in chapter 31 that God came to Laban in dream and told Laban "Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad." We see that God is protecting Jacob, just as He has Abraham, and Isaac. Laban catches up with Jacob and although he is angry and mildly threatens Jacob, he does not cause Jacob any harm. Laban leaves Jacob and returns. God has blessed Jacob, God is showing Himself faithful to His purposes. As we read this we are to see that God is faithful, we are to know that the reason we are Christians is because God did not allow Laban to kill Jacob, Just as He did not allow Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Just as He blessed Abraham was Isaac in his old age, just as He saved Noah and his sons, ans just as He promises Adam and Eve that her offspring would bruise Satan's head. The book of Genesis is about God setting in motion the fulfillment of His promises, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are just the continuation of the fulfillment of that promise. Our Christian lives today are after the Offspring, who is Jesus Christ, has come and bruise Satan's head, breaking the power of sin over our lives. We are on the other side of the fulfillment of that promises, living in the glory of God in measure. As we continue to go forward in our study of the Bible we need to keep this in mind. God is faithful and you and I are proof of His faithfulness, we are proof of His power.
Jacob has escaped from Laban and he is heading back home. Now Jacob must face the threat that had caused him to flee from his home, Esau. He sets some of his servants to Esau and to greet him and honor him, it seems as if Jacob is feeling out Esau. Is he still angry with me? does he still want to kill me? I'm sure these thoughts had to be going through his mind. His servants return from Esau and tell Jacob that Esau is coming and he has 400 men with him. The Bible in Genesis 32 says that Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. Jacob prays asking for deliverance from Esau and he reminds God that He had promised him that his offspring's would be as the sand of the sea. God had delivered Jacob from Laban and his men, but notice that in Jacob's pray he says "I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all Ethe faithfulness that you have shown to your servant... We see a spiritual transformation taking place within Jacob. Jacob separate his family into groups and sends them forward instructed them to greet Esau with gifts and to honor him. Jacob stay by himself, and the Bible says that a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. It says the man did not prevail against Jacob, and Jacob tells the man that he would not let him go unless he blesses him. He tell Jacob that his name will no longer be Jacob but Israel - Jacob called the place Peniel saying that he had seen God face to face and did not die. We should note that in wrestling with Jacob God appeared in human form usually as the Angel of the Lord, and he accommodated His strength to Jacob's and Jacob's is said to be victorious by clinging to God for blessing. God did dislocate Jacob's hip, and having previously depended upon his wits and strength, Jacob's natural powers were now crippled. Every step he would take in the future would remind him of his dependence upon divine grace.(1) God had humbled Jacob, Jacob had become Israel. He now encounters Esau and he greets Esau as a superior and Esau greets him favorably. Jacob says that seeing Esau and being favorably received by the one he dreaded was like seeing the face of God, he is comparing this experience and his inner joy to his encounter with God. In Genesis 33:11 Jacob offers to give Esau blessings for stealing Esau's blessing. God had changed Jacob - Israel he has become. When God encounters any of us, and He encounters all of us He saves, we are spiritually transformed.
(1) Reformation Study Bible