Heroes of the FaithJanuary 24-28
Heroes of the Faith: Jacob and The Birth of a nation
And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.” – Genesis 25:21-23(ESV)
Three expectant fathers were in a hospital waiting room while their wives were in labor. The nurse arrived and announced to the first man, “Congratulations sir! You’re the father of twins.” “What a coincidence! I work for the Minnesota Twins baseball team.” The nurse returned in a little while and turned to the second man, “You, sir, are the father of triplets.” “Wow! That’s really an incredible coincidence, I work for 3M.” After hearing this, the third guy just fainted. The nurse helped him slowly regain consciousness. When he was finally able to speak, you could hear him whispering: “I should have never taken that job at 7-Up.”
Rebekah did not know she was going to give birth to twins, and she could not understand what the trouble was in her womb. God explained to Rebekah that two babies were in conflict in her womb and they would eventually be two nations in conflict. Esau and Jacob would each produce a nation, and these two nations (Edom and Israel) would battle, but the younger would master the elder. “Jacob” means “Heel-grabber.” Years later, the name came to mean “supplanter” and “cheater.” Jacob’s story is messy but God would use his mess to accomplish God’s will.
You and I were born into this world with a sinful, fallen nature. When we are saved, we are given a new, spiritual nature. However, our old nature still battles within us when we trust Christ. How have experienced God helping you wrestle against your old nature?
Thank God for His perfect plan that includes your imperfections.
Jacob: Happy Meals
Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. – Genesis 25:29-34 (ESV)
The McDonalds “Happy Meal” might be the most famous meal in all the world. It’s a meal for a kid that’s served at McDonald’s restaurants that promise to make them happy – at least for a few fleeting minutes! McDonald’s Bob Bernstein thought marketing a meal for kids would make everyone happier. Kids could now get a packaged meal all their own instead of just picking at their parent’s food. Bernstein branded it “the happy meal” – meals designed especially for kids and featuring a toy. Happy kids meant happy parents too! Who hasn’t gone to MacDonald’s looking for that elusive thing called happiness? If only finding happiness was that easy! (Fred Penney)
Esau thought Jacob’s pea soup would make him happy. Esau was the oldest son and legally was entitled to the birthright and a larger portion of the family inheritance. But Esau sold his birthright for pea soup! Even though God promised that Jacob would be the heir, Jacob and Rebekah took matters into their own hands. They tricked Esau out of his birthright. What makes this so heinous is, if God had promised it, then Jacob didn’t need to trick Esau out of it. God doesn’t need that kind of help. He can find a way to give the birthright and the blessing to Jacob in His own time.
Why is this story in the Bible? Because all of us are like Esau and Jacob. This story is the flip side of the words of Jesus: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul (Mark 8:36). All of us stand in the place of Esau every single day. We face repeated temptations to sell that which means the most to us for that which is worth so little. We also like Jacob trying to manufacture God’s blessings. What are you willing to trade in order to get what you want in life? Your family? Your marriage? Your integrity? Your purity?
Thank God for the promise to bless your life without you manipulating circumstances. Thank God for your integrity and ask for His help to maintain it.
Jacob: God’s Here
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. – Genesis 28:16-19 (ESV)
Someone asked a Little Leaguer how his team was doing. The boy replied that his team was doing well, but that they were behind 17-0. The man asked if he was discouraged at being so far behind. The boy replied, “Oh no, sir, we haven’t even been up to bat yet!”
Jacob feels like he is losing in Genesis 28. Jacob left Beersheba all alone for the first time in his life. It was a hurried departure, escaping his brother Esau’s murderous intentions. I imagine he had a hard time sleeping that night. He was homeless, penniless, helpless, and alone. As Jacob lay there, he thought about his aging father; he remembered his mother waving good-bye; he thought about Esau’s pledge to kill him. Finally, he drifted off to an uneasy sleep. While he slept, he had one of the most famous dreams in history. Jacob’s ladder was a dream that reminded him that God knew everything about him. God knew about his meanness, crookedness, and scheming. But God also knew that deep within his heart he was longing for spiritual realities. This seems to be when Jacob experienced true conversion.
God knew every detail about Jacob’s life, and He knows every detail about your life. Sometimes it’s easy to look at all the evil in the world and get discouraged because it seems like God’s side is losing badly. However, God wins in the end. God spoke to Jacob at his moment of desperation and maybe that’s when God wants to speak to you.
Praise God that we know the end of the story and God’s Kingdom ultimately will win. Thank God for inviting you to be a part of His family.
Jacob: The Wrestle
And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” – Genesis 32:24-26 (ESV)
“What’s the secret to being a good bull rider?” When a newspaper reporter asked a Montana cowboy that question, he pushed back his hat and grinned: “You’ve just gotta want to hang on worse than the bull wants to throw you off.”
Jacob might have preferred eight seconds on the back of a bull to the situation he faced. As he traveled to Canaan—a journey that would reunite him with Esau, his brother—Jacob carried not only his possessions but also a heart full of guilt and sin. He’d taken his brother’s birthright and blessing and had lived ever since in constant fear that Esau would seek revenge. Feeling desperate and overwhelmed, Jacob spent a night alone to take advantage of a little peace and quiet. Instead, he got the fight of his life—a wrestling match with God! (NIV Men’s Devotional Bible)
Some battles must be fought alone. There are times when no one can help us. This was just such a time in Jacob’s life. Jacob’s trouble was himself–his self-will, self-purpose, self-defense, self-desire, and self-righteousness. Jacob’s self-life had to be dealt with, and God chose to do so while Jacob was alone. It took more than spiritual wrestling to convince Jacob of his need. God had been dealing with him spiritually for more than 20 years, but Jacob had failed to learn. God now struggled with Jacob physically because it was something Jacob could comprehend. Jacob’s spiritual level of discernment was not mature enough for God to deal with him on a spiritual basis alone.
Jacob’s dislocated hip was a constant physical reminder of his spiritual need for God’s mercy and grace in his life. It reminded Jacob that he wasn’t smarter or stronger than God. When was the last time you wrestled with God? What reminders has God given you of your need for Him?
Thank God for His graceful reminders of His sufficiency.
Jacob: A Personal Revival and A Promise Kept
God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. – Genesis 35:1; 10-11 (ESV)
Pastor Larry Petton said you need revival when: 1. You are entertained by things that once grieved you. 2. You are silent where you once spoke. 3. Your prayer closet has cobwebs and your Bible is dusty. 4. You have ceased to grieve over your own sin. 5. You have stopped sharing your faith. 6. You are more excited about your personal agenda than doing God’s will for your life. 7. You have to be begged to give and serve the Lord. 8. You question God where you used to trust Him. 9. You don’t long for worshiping God and being with His family. 10. You are obsessed with what others think and not what God says.
Jacob needed a revival and God called Jacob to come back to the place where He started for God. God’s command was for him to dwell there, build an altar, and worship. It had been 20 years since his Bethel experience and Jacob had gotten far away from the Lord. He had gotten mixed up in idolatry. He had grown cold toward God, and now God is calling him home!
Jacob would no longer be recognized as the “trickster or supplanter” a man of deceit; he would be known as Israel, the “prince of God.” This would also affect the way others recognized and addressed him. God renewed all the promises that He had made to Abraham and Isaac and gave them afresh to Jacob.
Do you remember when you met God? Do you remember that moment when Jesus Christ became your Savior? Do you remember how you felt when Jesus saved you? Have you drifted and do you need to return to a closer place in your walk with Him?
Thank God for the times He has called you back home spiritually. Ask God to fan a fresh fire of revival in your soul.