1. Hello, listening friends. We are so glad that you joined us today.
2. We are studying God’s grace in this series of messages entitled, “Portrait of Grace;”
3. and, today, we will focus on the passage from Genesis 32, verses 1 to 32.
4. Most people see that surrendering to their enemy is a sign of weakness;
5. but, today, I want to tell you about a kind of surrender that is a sign of strength.
6. I am talking about surrendering to God.
7. Like Jacob, so many of us want to do our own thing.
8. We want to chart our own course.
9. We want to captain our own ships.
10. We want to handle our own problems;
11. and we want to leave God out of our plans.
12. That is, of course, until we hit an iceberg and our ship starts taking water.
13. Often, we are happy to leave God out of our plans, until we find ourselves in the sort of situation that Jacob was in.
14. In Genesis, Chapter 32, we find Jacob in what we call in English, “between the rock and the hard place;”
15. and, at that point, we say to ourselves, “Everything else has failed. Maybe, I’ll try prayer.”
16. My listening friend, prayer should always be the first option, not the last resort.
17. Prayer should begin by seeking God’s plan;
18. and, in Genesis 32, we find Jacob in a predicament.
19. His Uncle Laban was behind him and his brother, Esau, is in front of him.
20. In Genesis 32, verses 1 and 2, Jacob sees an angel of the Lord going before him.
21. In the past six years of his life, Jacob was blessed and prospered supernaturally by the Lord.
22. Twenty years earlier, Jacob saw a vision of God in Bethel.
23. Way before all of this, he was aware of the prophecy about him before he was even born --
24. that he would be the fulfillment of God’s promise to his grandfather, Abraham;
25. and, yet, all of these facts were lost on Jacob in a moment of crisis.
26. All that Jacob could think of at the time of the crisis was his own fear.
27. Isn’t that what we all do, my listening friend?
28. A moment of crisis in our lives seems to obliterate all of the evidence of God’s past blessings.
29. Jacob was so terrified of his brother, Esau, that his scheming, manipulative, strategizing old nature got the best of him again.
30. Have you ever been there, my listening friend?
31. When you know in the past that God provided for you and blessed you and protected you and ministered to you?
32. When God proved His faithfulness to you again and again in the past?
33. And, yet, all of a sudden, some little gossip makes you panic.
34. As soon as you hear half the facts, you get yourself into a frenzy.
35. In Genesis 32:9, Jacob prays one of those telegraphic prayers;
36. but he wasn’t sure if God was going to answer his prayer or not;
37. so he goes into full strategy mode and he says to himself, “Oh, I remember my brother Esau as a greedy and covetous man.
38. I remember my brother, Esau, as a man who always wants to satisfy his own human appetites;
39. so, let me send him a whole lot of gifts.
40. Let me send him one gift after another.
41. I will overwhelm him with gifts.”
42. Jacob probably was saying to himself, “If Esau does not like goats, then, he will like camels; and, if he doesn’t like camels, he might like donkeys...”
43. and, in a panic, he sends his brother one gift after another.
44. What Jacob did not realize was that God would answer his prayer in more ways than he ever dreamed possible.
45. For example, his brother was going to forgive him;
46. and, in addition, God is going to show up in person.
47. It never occurred to Jacob that God would answer his prayer so mightily.
48. Let me tell you about four things that you must understand when you find yourself in tough times.
49. The first is the cause of trembling.
50. Secondly, the necessity of wrestling;
51. and, thirdly, the blessings of clinging;
52. and, fourthly, the power of limping.
53. First, let’s talk about the cause of trembling.
54. Most often, what causes our fear and trembling is not even real.
55. When Jacob heard that there were about 400 men coming toward him from his brother, Esau, he began to panic.
56. What else would they be coming for, but to kill him?
57. Jacob trembled and shook for a whole night. Over what?
58. Erroneous information and his own wrong assumptions.
59. The Bible paints a picture, here, of a restless and agitated, trembling man in the dark, desert night.
60. Nights are very dark in the desert.
61. No work can be done in the night.
62. You cannot see anything, except wild and bizarre imaginations;
63. which brings me, secondly, to the necessity of wrestling.
64. In verses 9 to 12, Jacob cries out to the Lord and says, “Oh, Lord, my God, deliver me!”
65. My friend, I hope you know what you’re saying when you pray,
66. because I’m going to show you that God may literally show up as an answer to your prayers;
67. so, in the midst of his terror in the dark of night, it was not Esau who showed up to kill him, but it was God who came to wrestle with him.
68. The One who showed up in the middle of the night was no other than the pre-incarnate Christ.
69. The pre-incarnate Christ appeared many times in the Old Testament.
70. Theologians give the appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ a big word. They call it “theophany.”
71. Some people read this passage and think that it was Jacob who was wrestling with God;
72. and they say that you, too, must wrestle with God.
73. My listening friend, it’s very important for you to understand that God did not show up so that Jacob could have a wrestling match with him.
75. God is the One who showed up to wrestle with Jacob.
76. It is true that Jacob asked for a blessing and would not let go until he got it,
77. but it was God who showed up in order to bring Jacob to the point of submission.
78. Here is what you must understand, my listening friend.
79. God will wrestle with us until we surrender.
80. When you and I are persistent in stubbornness, God will wrestle with us until we surrender.
81. This is a paradox that the world will never understand;
82. but, just as the camel cannot be loaded with goods until he kneels,
83. you and I cannot be blessed until we bend our knees.
84. There can be no real blessing without surrender.
85. There can be no true success without submission.
86. There can be no true victory without relinquishing.
87. There can be no true effectiveness without yielding.
88. There can be no power without obedience;
89. and, so, we saw the cause of trembling,
90. the necessity of wrestling.
91. Thirdly, the blessing of clinging.
92. Jacob kept up the struggle and would not surrender until daybreak;
93. but, because God did not want Jacob to see Him at daybreak,
94. He was about to leave, when Jacob insisted on a blessing.
95. Jacob knew that God was wrestling with him for his own good and blessing, so he clung to God.
96. What God wanted Jacob to learn is this:
97. all of his struggles against men got him nowhere.
98. Now, he must struggle against God and lose;
99. and, here, he clings to the pre-incarnate Christ for a blessing;
1. but Christ was not going to bless him until he surrendered;
2. and, so, we saw the cause of trembling,
3. the necessity of wrestling,
4. the blessing of clinging.
5. Fourthly, the power of limping.
6. The last thing we see in Genesis, Chapter 32, is Jacob limping on his way to see his brother, Esau.
7. This is a power limp,
8. because it is a limp that made Jacob small and God very big.
9. It is a limp that says, “I am decreased and God is increased.”
10. It is a limp that says, “I am walking, not in my own strength anymore, but in His.”
11. Jacob had contended with God successfully and lost.
12. The world will never understand that our success is in losing to God.
13. The world will never understand that our victory is in surrendering to God.
14. For years, Jacob contended, and cheated, and won,
15. or, at least, he thought he did.
16. He contended and cheated his brother, Esau, and grabbed the birthright.
17. He contented and cheated his blind father, Isaac, and got his blessing;
18. but, in reality, none of these were real victories,
19. because, here he is, 20 years later, and he is terrified.
20. My listening friend, listen very carefully, as I conclude.
21. The real victory was when Jacob contended with God and lost to God.
22. When it comes to wrestling with God,
23. our purpose must always be surrender.
24. For true success in life, there has to be surrender to God.
25. My listening friends, seek God’s plan for your life and, then, surrender to Him
26. so that you, too, can have true victory and success in your life.
27. Until next time, I wish you God’s richest blessing.