Divine Wounding

Vernon-20130118-00384It was one of those mornings where I read a passage and thought “I really want to understand this.” I prayed for understanding and dug in. The story of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32:22-32 seems so bizarre and out of place, that is until you dig into it, of course.

For context, Jacob has separated from Laban where he has lived for many years, he has his family, his herd, all of his belongings and is now on his way to a head on encounter with his brother Esau, whom he hasn’t seen in many years, but when they last met, Esau’s mission was to kill Jacob for how he deceived him. Now Jacob begins to fear, and separates and sends everyone on for operational security, he is alone. Very alone. In a very quiet desolate place.

The bizzaro enters when in Gen 32:24 we out of no where see Jacob wrestling a man, the wrestling match continues all night. The man is soon to be understood to be God himself, or possibly his angel – who ends up dislocating Jacob’s leg in an attempt to bring this cage match to an end. Jacob wrestles on, but has an important realization – he realizes who he is fighting against.

His whole life he has been scheming, weaseling, deceiving – seeking (and stealing) other’s blessings like his brother Esau, but now he realizes thru this wound and revelation of who he is fighting against, that the fighting with God must stop and he must seek to be blessed by him and cease trying to prevail in his own strength. God gave him a divine wound in dislocating his leg that snapped him out of it.

In the margin of one of my Bibles, I have written “Jacob’s 9/11 Moment”. For me, Sept 11th was the moment, the divine wound, that made me realize it was time for me to stop fighting against God and doing things in my own strength and to turn over my life to him, live the life pleasing to him, end the sin cycle, and stop the deception.

Name changes in the Bible are significant, and here Jacob is renamed to Israel. “Jacob” the cunning deceiver is renamed to “Israel”. The old has gone the new has come. Ultimately, this is fulfilled for us in Jesus Christ – the Messiah who will come out of the line of Jacob/Israel – to save us from our own wrestling and sin, give us new life, a new inheritance and a new future.

Eventually, there comes a time where the wrestling must end. Sometimes that is thru the grace of a divine wound, and the the healer sets us free.

Jacob | Weasel

OK.  Done with Job…now back to Genesis.

We are now well into Abraham’s story, his calling by God to create a nation…eventually from which the Messiah will come.  Abraham had Isaac and Isaac had Jacob and Esau. Esau was born first, followed by Jacob who came out all hairy & red faced grabbing his brother’s heel.  (Gen 25:25).

After getting his brother’s birthright for a bowl of hot stew he then moves in and tries (and succeeds) to get his Father’s blessing while he was on his deathbed.  In a routine that you just have to read to believe that his mother cooked up he has an interaction with his father Isaac that caught my eye.  The deal was that Abraham knew he was close to death, his vision was just about shot, and he sent Esau out to hunt for game to then prepare for him a favorite, most likely last, meal and give Esau the final fatherly blessing.  Rebekah hears about this, and favoring Jacob, she fills him in and cooks up this whole plan to deceive Abraham into thinking that Jacob was Esau and then get his blessing on his death bed.  Nice, right?  And you thought your family was messed up?

Well,  the plan succeeds.  Jacob even puts on animal fur and Esau’s clothes to fool his dying blind father.  When he shows up with a nice fresh meal rather quickly in Esau’s place, Abraham questions him – (Gen 27:20-21) “How is it that you have found it so quickly my son?” He answered “Because the LORD your God granted me success.”

Hold the phone.

The LORD “your” God.

Not “my” God…”your” God, Dad.

Fast forward to Gen 28.  After the rouse is exposed and Esau, rather naturally, wants to kill Jacob, he flees to live with his uncle.  On the way there, he has a dream…in which the LORD GOD himself appears to him.  What is Jacob’s response?

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”
(Genesis 28:20-22 ESV)

Wow.

That’s a touching vow.

Can you put any other conditions on God there, Jake?

If you do this…and if you do that…THEN you will be MY God.

Before we condemn this weasel…let’s stop and look in the mirror.  Do we put conditions on God?

“If you do this for me God, and everything goes well…etc…THEN I will let you be my God.”

Are we happy with God when things are going right, but then when stuff goes bad, we are like “WHOAH. What the heck, God?  This doesn’t happen to me…”  In other words, we’ll serve God when things are going well for us…but when they aren’t…do we still serve him with the same joy and passion?

I struggle with this too.

But enter the cross.

God has called us to himself thru Jesus Christ – his person and his work.  His perfect life of obedience and his sacrificial substitutionary death on the cross for the punishment I deserve.

When bad stuff comes, and it will, we need to fight in faith to see the cross.  To see that as the most important thing, the biggest reminder that God loves us and poured out his love for us by making a way for us to be reconciled to him.  Then, that will make us want to praise Him and bring him glory out of thankfulness in our hearts to God for the hope we have in Christ.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:1-5 ESV)