What does it say?
Jacob is terrified that Esau will kill him and begs God to save him (Gen 32). Immediately after his prayer, Jacob continues to scheme and manipulate. For decades God has wrestled with Jacob spiritually to no avail. Now, the Lord himself shows up to deal with him on a physical level, wounding him in the thigh for life. God gives Jacob the new name Israel, prince with God.
Jacob meets Esau’s graciousness with more fear and manipulation (Gen 33). The pattern of Jacob’s self-centered life sets a bad example for his children, and they are soon following in their father’s footsteps, taking matters into their own hands. A neighboring prince takes advantage of Jacob’s daughter Dinah (Gen 34). Her natural brothers Simeon and Levi execute a horrible revenge upon the entire tribe.
What does it mean?
Visible or invisible, spiritual or physical, God is always at work in our lives and in our world. We often choose to ignore him, forget him or revert back to our old ways. Sadly, those of us who are blessed to be a blessing, often act with less maturity than those not associated with God’s blessing.
Jacob has genuine encounters with God throughout his life, yet there is no corresponding change in his daily walk. We can fill our lives with worship, praise, Bible reading and prayer, change our name and outward appearance; yet still have no clue what it means to love God with all our being and love our neighbor as ourselves. Jacob and family end up being a curse and not a blessing to the surrounding nations. Jacob’s family will be filled with conflict and heartache as the result of working against God’s plan instead of with it.
How will I respond?
If you had to say that there was one point of brokenness in your life, something that causes you to “limp” (like Jacob’s thigh), what would that be? Limps can be good, by the way; they cause us to learn to lean on God and not on our own understanding. What is one outstanding lesson you have or need to learn from your point of brokenness?
What is one active step you can take to keep the focus of your life outward and missional? Examples: Giving to your church, and to missional projects in some specific way through your church or ministry partner, serving, praying specifically for some unreached group of people, or inviting someone to join you for some event, activity, study or worship service?