Greetings everyone. As the song says "The rain, rain, rain, came down, down, down."I pray you are all safe and dry.This Sunday's Scripture reading is a lengthy one, taken from Genesis 32:1-32.
The climax of this reading is Jacob wrestling with God. To understand Judaism, to understand Christianity, one must know this story. It is a pivotal part of the story about God and God's people. It is here that Jacob is renamed Israel and in which Israel is left with a permanent limp. After all, one can not wrestle with God without being changed in some way.
Today, what I invite us to mediate on is the person of Jacob, and the changes he made.When we first meet Jacob, he is in the womb struggling with his brother, Esau (Gen 25:22). When he is born, Jacob is clutching his brother's heel, and he is given the name Jacob which means "He takes by the heel" of "He Supplants". As he grows up, Jacob spend time inside the tents, cooking, while his brother embraces the outdoors and hunting. Oh, and don't forget Jacob likes to trick and deceive people.
It is Jacob who runs away from home and with no place to rest, falls asleep outside on a rock, where he has a dream of God. Jacob, the tent-dwelling Mama's boy who is slippery like an eel, is stuck outside and is given a series of promises by God. Then watch, as Jacob begins to change.
He falls in love. He commits to seven years of hard work, outside. He watches over his uncle's flocks. He dealt with wild beasts. He is consumed by heat during the day, the cold by night, and barely gets any sleep (Gen 31:40): very different from being a tent dwelling Mama's boy. He is tricked, gets married again, commits to another 7 years of hard work (20 years of work all together), raises a very large family, raises a very large and strong flock of goats, lambs and sheep. He gains wealth. He hears and listens to God when God talks to him.By chapter 32 Jacob prays to God, the longest prayer found in the book of Genesis. He recalls God to be the God of his ancestors. He admits that he is unworthy of all the love God has shown. He asks God for help (as opposed to tricking someone as he did in the past), and then he prays not for his sake, but the sake of his children and their mothers.
Can you see how much Jacob has changed? It took 20 tears, but by having a relationship with God, Jacob changed. And perhaps most surprising, is that when God is ready for a wrestling match it is former-tent-Dwelling-Mama's-Boy-Jacob and not Rough-and-Touch-Outdoorsman-Hunter-Esau that God wrestles with.I find that surprising.
Even more surprising. Jacob is able to match God and to hold onto God, even when he is struck in the hip. Who is this Jacob that he is able to change, to transform, and to wrestle God like an Olympic Star?
Today I invite you to revisit Jacob's story, but to also revisit your own. How has knowing God changed you? How have you become stronger? What were the tents you were in before you knew God? And what are your strengths now? And looking back in your life, did you ever imagine you would be where you are now?How can you give thanks to God today for what God has done?Peace and blessings to you all,Pastor G