As we saw last week, Jacob was not a very admirable person. He tricked his father and brother and received the inheritance through deception. And yet, God chose to love him. This is good news for all sinners - God loves us in our brokenness and accepts us as we are. But the story of Jacob shows us that the love of God also works to transform us. Because of his feud with Esau, Jacob had to flee to Rebecca’s family. There he falls in love, works hard to earn the right to marry the girl of his dreams… and then he is deceived by his uncle Laban. This is a messy story and one can’t help but feel sorry for Leah, the unloved wife of Jacob. But for Jacob the setbacks continue. Even though his work as a shepherd is blessed with physical abundance, his uncle again deceives him and steals from his flock. Jacob “the deceiver” is getting a taste of his own medicine. When the pressure from Laban gets to be too much, Jacob decides to take his family back to his homeland, setting up a tense reunion with Esau in which Jacob was “greatly afraid and distressed.” But before his encounter with Esau, Jacob has a strange wrestling match with a supernatural opponent. In the face of adversity he hangs on to the angel – essentially, hanging on to God – until he extracts a blessing. Jacob receives not only a blessing, but a new name – Israel. And from Esau he receives unexpected grace. From now on, Israel will walk with a limp – a reminder of his struggle with God. But he returns home a different person, humbled and contrite. God has been at work through these difficulties.
Reflect: In what ways has God used adversity in your life to shape and change you? How might he be doing that now?
Connect: Many Biblical authors show that God uses difficulties to transform us.
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.