WRESTLING WITH GOD
We are supposed to wrestle
with evil spirits face to face, eyeball to eyeball, shoulder to shoulder
and assert the victory of our Lord Jesus. Jacob, like everyone of
us had to wrestle with God, to enter the prophetic school of maturity.
From a split family of tensions, through the 21 year cycle of self-will
struggle, he came to Peniel, an isolation corner, to come face to face
with the living God. Of all the patriarchs he is the most instructive
for us; revealing the way of discipline, and the struggle we all have with
self-will. If we wrestle with God we are not fully committed to Him
and have areas in our life contrary to His will.
Jacob was a schemer for his
own ends, in order to preserve himself from the demands of self surrender.
God is concerned with the root of sin, our selfish will that refuses to
have the Lord Jesus reign over us. The Lord has to touch us at the
self-willed points so we may surrender without struggle. When we
insist on our own way it breeds a lack of harmony and a lack of trust.
Wrestling is a close quarters contest, like Moses killing the Egyptian.
The future leader put the clock back 40 years in his life, because he precipitated
the Lord’s will, by his own agenda. The enemy seeks to deceive us
by causing us to put on a show. Few believers today are honest and
real before God and men. We wrestle with God rather than against
principalities and powers.
A SPLIT FAMILY
Romans 9 : 13 bluntly shares
the divine verdict:
The division was deepened by
Isaac loving Esau for his delicious game, and Rebecca loving Jacob, who
stayed nearby rather than going off to hunt all day. However, Jacob
was no wimp, but a “complete man, dwelling in tents”, involved no doubt
in animal husbandry. Here was a distinction. Esau looked upon
the wealth of the field, game to be hunted, but will not process what he
gained to make it marketable. Jacob had resources close at hand and
made farming efficient rather than daily hard labour. Proverbs 12
: 27 says:
“Jacob I have
loved, Esau I have hated.”
The word ‘slothful’ is a poor
translation and should not be equated with laziness. It means the
inability to see a profitable end product. Jacob, however, had a
long-term plan. Look at nations today. USA has been a leader
in marketing resources. Russia has the same amounts of oil, forest,
minerals, but has endured long years of human poverty. You could
also contrast S. Africa and Congo, who have similar gold deposits.
Jacob and Esau were very different : the younger a schemer, fraudster,
a supplanter having grabbed the heel of his brother when arriving into
the world. Esau was a greedy, sensuous man, a fornicator, marrying
a woman outside the covenant, displaying a contempt for the things of heaven.
In Jacob, however, there was an inner fire to meet with the living God,
which was never extinguished. The dysfunctional split family experienced
mounting tension when Isaac blessed Jacob and not Esau, the firstborn.
When the ageing, blind father knew his mistake he trembled exceedingly,
knew a shaking of his soul but came from disobedience to faith. He
knew it had been Jacob’s voice, so of his five senses only his sense of
hearing was not deceived. Faith forever comes from hearing the word
of God and Hebrews 11 : 20 reports that “by faith Isaac blessed Jacob and
Esau concerning things to come.”
slothful does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is a man’s
Rebecca’s promoting of Jacob
can be seen as helping God out, rather than true faith. In the rest
of faith God orders the circumstances. Some believers are always
scheming, pushing, restlessly doing, never resting in the character and
sovereignty of God. However, Esau hated Jacob and with murder in
the air, Isaac commanded him to go to Laban his uncle to find a wife.
This is where Jacob met his match.
28 : 10 – 22
Jacob ran away but the Lord
was waiting for him. Constant communication with heaven. Angels
from the realm of glory. The awful stone pillow and the awesome presence
of the Lord. The ministry of heaven was directed to the man who thought
God was not with him. What an encouragement for us! We are
assured by experiences because we believe God has a long term purpose for
our lives. Here for Jacob was the DREAM of REALITY. There are
two doors for every believer – the word of God door and the experience
door. Each door has a voice (see Revelation 4 : 1) that beckons
us. The charismatic church is roughly divided at this point, some
preferring the experience door and only using the word of God casually.
The word of God door is the sure word of prophecy and those who go through
it will know God in a deeper way. Remember Adam and Eve walked with
God everyday in the cool of the evening and were edified by His words of
conviction and comfort. The experience door was the serpent’s voice
that immediately caused Eve to add to and doubt the spoken word of God.
Deceit began at the fall of man when the talking serpent misrepresented
God by slander. Too many charismatic believers today walk through
the experience door, and fail to test the spirits. Remember the baptism
in the Holy Spirit opens us up to the unseen spiritual realm, and is not
a hotline to the holiness of God! We need a deeper love of the truth
if we are charismatic than even our evangelical friends! The experience
door alone will always give the believer a sense of unlimited potential
(the very snare that Eve fell into!) Now God does want us to find
and live in our inheritance……….but through the word of grace.
Acts 20 : 32 in the context
of false leaders tells us :
brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able
to build you up and give you and inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
Sanctified! This was on
God’s agenda for Jacob, for him to be set apart for God’s purpose.
God is revealing the pre-eminence of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph over
the people of Ur and Canaan, over Ishmael, over Esau, and over Joseph’s
brothers. God has chosen Jacob to inwardly change his character.
This radical change occurred at Peniel, where the reality of the dream
became objective and subjective fact. Between Bethel and Peniel a
21 year cycle of self-will, the struggle for maturity, was the environment
where finally Jacob could say “Not I, but Christ.” Jacob met his
match in sly Laban, who changed his wages ten times, and gave Leah as wife
instead of Rachel. How often, the breaking of the believer comes
through relationships. There may be miracles on the way (see Genesis
30 : 37 – 39), but Jacob was unbroken and couldn’t see it! How often
today we see evangelists with outer clothing of the Holy Spirit, but have
inner areas of attitude untouched by the Lord Jesus Christ.
From the house of God (Bethel)
Jacob came face to face with God (Peniel) alone. No one else can
go through the isolation corner for us. This experience was a real
inner character change similar to Exodus 3 or Isaiah 6 or Acts 2 or 1 Samuel
30 : 6, when in the dark night of the soul, David encouraged himself in
the Lord. Chapter 32 begins with the angels of God meeting the man
who was in fear of meeting his brother, Esau. Jacob had left Laban
– a type of man in combat with us. Now it was Esau – a type of evil
spirit, who could strike “me and the mother and the children” (Genesis
32 : 11). The mother, Madame Guyon points out, is Jacob’s righteousness,
the mother of all virtues, and the children, the fruits of the Spirit that
are evident in the working out of our position as the righteousness of
God. Jacob feared losing his very foundation in his relationship
with God, and that somehow Esau could regain birthright and blessing.
God is bigger than our fears, and our deep sense of unworthiness (verse
10). After Laban and Esau, the third battle as with God Himself,
which is typical of the Man who wrestled with him until daybreak.
He had sent over the brook
all that he had possessed (verse 23), which speaks of entire and full surrender.
The wrestling with God. Produced a twin permanent change in Jacob.
First, God touches the strongest part of our natural life whether it be
our loins, our physical life, our intellect, the area of human feeling
or sympathy, and so reduces our reliance on the old life inherited by Adam.
Secondly, the name change elevates us to a new position in God, walking
up Jacob’s ladder to know a new vantage point, by seeing life from heavenly
perspective. From Jacob (the supplanter) came Israel ( a prophetic
prince with God, who is strong in the strength which God supplies).
This soul, now no longer fears the wrestling with men (Laban) or with demons
(Esau), but was capable of wrestling with God. Out of Abram came
Abraham – the ha means Holy Spirit. Out of Simon came Peter.
Out of Saul came Paul, the master builder of the church!
The length of the struggle
is dependant on ourselves. Rees Howells surrendered fully very quickly
as a believer, most of us stubbornly take a lifetime, because of fears
and inner anxieties and the selfish will. If we truly surrender there
is no necessity to wrestle. To come to a genuine Gethsemane is not
easy. To proclaim “I am and have been crucified with Christ” will
soon be tested by the powers of darkness. God understands our failings,
our wrestlings and is the God of Jacob who is our refuge. (Psalm
46 : 11). Will we go through the Cross for real character change?
God loved Jacob because he was willing to go through the struggle of self-will
and enter the school of maturity. The secret of Peniel was to focus
no longer on sin-holiness issues, but on the Lord Himself who is our sanctification.
He in me is GREATER than he is in the world! I am a vessel, perhaps
with the mark of a limp in some natural area that was still controlling
my life as a believer, but a clean container through whom God can come
to bless others!
In Genesis 49 we glimpse
the outworking of the new name and character of Jacob. Ministry is
what we have really become in Christ Jesus, not merely our position as
new creations but our performance, abiding in the Holy Spirit. The
anointing authority sits in the liberated will, purified heart and clear
mind of those who have been changed by the power of the Cross. Jacob
knew which of his sons would wrestle with God, like himself, and prevail.
Reuben would be unstable as water because he still relied on natural life
proceeding from himself. He never got to the place of wrestling with
God for the exchanged life! In Jacob’s valedictory service
Joseph would be the fruitful bough because he had been separated by cruelty
and separated by character. He knew the disciplines that were vital
to the fruitful issue in his life. Wherever the cross is present
in a life, what appears to the natural mind is a disaster, but in reality
is the root of blessing. Joseph as far as his brothers were concerned
was lost to oblivion. Verse 26 declares heaven’s perspective :
Wherever the cross is absent
in our lives we will flounder and go astray. The cross of separation
issues out in blessing. Can we perceive the purposes of our sovereign
God who always means what we go through for ultimate good?
blessings of your father have excelled the blessings of my ancestors up
to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. They shall be on the head
of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his
True prophecy has Peniel
at the centre of it’s operation – a channel who has known the reality of
the unveiling of the Son of God IN me. Waves of false prophecy in
recent years has not known this essential grounding and rooting in empirical
experience of the Christ within the heart. The Christ who is able
to make sense of “blessings of the deep that lie beneath” – the interior
hells that the abandoned souls must pass through. The Christ, who
will nourish other souls through you – the blessing of the breast being
the spiritual milk given to babes in Christ. The Christ, who in regeneration
and evangelist, speaks the gospel as the blessing of the womb. The
linking of pastor, teacher and evangelist is needed today as never before.
Jacob’s prophecy is still speaking.
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