Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
Jacob finally crossed the Jabbok River and rejoined his family, but he limped. The previous night, he fought with the angel that God sent. Jacob fought and fought. Although the angel tried to depart Jacob as the dawn began to break, Jacob never released the angel.
Then the angel retouched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. The excruciating pain immobilized Jacob. The angle was free from Jacob. Then the angel asked Jacob who could not fight anymore due to the severe pain, and in pain, Jacob replied, “Jacob.”
The angel told Jacob, ”your name will no longer be Jacob. From now on, you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” Then the angel left Jacob. Immediately, Jacob realized he fought with God.
Indeed, with God, Jacob fought for his past sin against his brother Esau over the night. Before the night-long prayer, Jacob’s sin had never left him; instead, it deeply got into his heart. Then the sin bothered him all the more as he lived. Jacob thought it would be gone as time went by, but the sin relentlessly clung to Jacob. Finally, it surfaced up at the very moment that he tried to cross the Jabbok River with his family and all of his possessions and completely occupied Jacob. It completely immobilized Jacob. To break out the force of sin, Jacob got back to God and prayed. He had never prayed before, like the prayer that he gave to God throughout that night. It was the fight between Jacob and his sin before God.
God let Jacob fight throughout the night. Jacob had truly experienced the weight of sin, and Jacob fought and fought in prayer. God finally saw Jacob, who truly repented and humbly asked God’s forgiveness with a contrite heart.
It was the night that transformed Jacob. He became no longer the one whom earthly desire, passion, and greed drove. Jacob achieved all of these earthly desires with his own cunning smartness, which God gave him for God’s work and His glory, not Jacob squandered all for the earthly ones. Throughout the night, Jacob prayed and prayed. As the dawn came, God was truly pleased with Jacob, and God gave Jacob the mark that he could never forget; God touched his hip socket.
The excruciating pain was indeed God’s blessing specially prepared by God out of His love. Jacob then truly experienced God, who forgave his sin. The following morning, the angel left him, and Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God.”) Jacob saw God’s face, yet God spared his life.
Jacob was limping and barely moving due to the pain, but he gave thanksgiving to God. His face shone like the rising sun. Please imagine the scene. Could anyone understand Jacob limping in severe pain but, at the same time, in the joy that nobody could see before? Jacob became a new creature in God in the night. God even gave the new name, “Israel,” who had fought with God and with men and won.
Of course, Jacob could not win God, but God let Jacob win because God dearly loved Jacob. God, who dearly loves us, let us win over God as God let Jacob win. All parents know the secret — how our three-year-old boy wins a wrestling match with his father. His father loves to see his son in joy by winning his daddy. Of course, his father does not give this victory freely, but his father lets his son do his best, which is, after all, his father wants to grow strong. The three-year-old son is truly pleased because he has just won over his father, but his father is far more joyful because he has seen the joy in his son’s eyes.
Our God’s love is much greater than any earthly father’s love. Then can we imagine how big our Heavenly Father’s joy would be? Our Heavenly Father’s pleasure with Jacob was beyond description. God was extremely joyful, and in His joy, God gave Jacob the new victor’s name, “Israel.”
Jacob then crossed the Jabbok River and joined his family on the other side. He knew his brother was coming with an army of 400 men. But Jacob no longer feared his brother, Esau, who, Jacob always believed, would kill himself.
The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1)
Before the last night, Jacob hid behind his family, possessions, and gifts to save his life on earth. The following morning, Jacob got over his punny desire to preserve his life. He met God and truly experienced God and His forgiveness of the twenty-year-old sin against his brother Esau. Jacob walked forward and led his family, his possessions, and gifts to lessen Esau’s emotional anger.
Then Jacob approached his brother Esau; he bowed to the ground seven times before Esau. Then Jacob waited. He waited for Esau, but he indeed waited for God and His mercy.
Then Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. God had gone before Jacob and already touched Esau’s heart. Esau came with an army of 400 men to welcome Jacob, not to kill Jacob. Jacob’s fear was ungrounded, but God used his fear of Esau and made Jacob a new person.
Yes, we should not sin, but God uses even our sin as a part of His transforming process to make us a new person if we sin. However, the process is messy and painful. Look at Jacob, who suffered twenty years in fear of Esau, in fact, his sin, and he had to fight throughout the night in prayer. How difficult was the night? The angel touched his hip socket and wrenched out it out of the socket. If it is what anyone wants, please go ahead and do sin. God will surely use sin, which is hard to learn from God and experience God’s love.
And Jacob and Esau both wept. Only God could create such a beautiful scene. Two brothers forgave and forgot the sin committed twenty years ago.
How wonderful and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
that was poured over Aaron’s head,
that ran down his beard
and onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing,
even life everlasting. (Psalm 133:1-3)
Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked, “Who are these people with you?”
These are the children God has graciously given to me, your servant,” Jacob replied. Then the servant wives came forward with their children and bowed before him. Next came Leah with her children, and they bowed before him. Finally, Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed before him.
“And what were all the flocks and herds I met as I came?” Esau asked.
Jacob replied, “They are a gift, my lord, to ensure your friendship.
“My brother, I have plenty,” Esau answered. “Keep what you have for yourself.”
Ah, the remnant of old Jacob was still with him. God forgave Jacob’s sin, and Esau forgave Jacob. However, Jacob’s old habit of using His earthly wisdom returned, and it was in full swing again.
But Jacob insisted, “No, if I have found favor with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God! Please take this gift I have brought you, for God has been very gracious to me. I have more than enough.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau finally accepted the gift.
Jacob was not fully comfortable till he saw with his own eyes his brother Esau received his gifts. Jacob should have had believed God, but he insisted on verifying his own eyes. Jacob needed such visual confirmation, although he became a new person in God. Jacob was just a baby spiritually born. Of course, God was very gentle to the newly born Jacob and gave what Jacob wanted. God let Jacob see Esau receiving his gifts. Jacob got the sign that he wanted to have.
Well,” Esau said, “let’s be going. I will lead the way.”
Jacob’s brain was again quickly spinning while thinking, “although Esau is friendly now, there is no guarantee that Esau will always be good to him in the future too. Esau might suddenly remember what he did. Then Esau might change his mind. Then what will happen?”
Jacob replied, “You can see, my lord, that some of the children are very young, and the flocks and herds have their young, too. If they are driven too hard, even for one day, all the animals could die. Please, my lord, go ahead of your servant. We will follow slowly, at a pace that is comfortable for the livestock and the children. I will meet you at Seir.”
“All right,” Esau said, “but at least let me assign some of my men to guide and protect you.”
Upon the friendly offer of Esau, Jacob responded selfishly to protect himself. It was certainly not easy to get mature in God, although Jacob was newly born in Him. Thus, Jacob responded, “That’s not necessary. It’s enough that you’ve received me warmly, my lord!”
So Esau turned around and started back to Seir that same day. Jacob again deceived Esau.
Jacob, on the other hand, traveled on to Succoth. There he built himself a house and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place was named Succoth (which means “shelters”). The remnant of Jacob’s fear was still lingering, and Jacob was still not authentic to Esau. Now we can see two aspects of sin.
First, God, and only God, can forgive sin. No human can forgive sin.
Second, God’s forgiveness of sin does not necessarily mean no mark in our lives. Jacob had to bear the mark of sin — limp. It was not all. The memory of the terrible sin and the fear associated with the sin remains long. Then some of us might wonder why.
The simple answer is because God loves us. Yes, God always forgives and forgets our sins, but we should constantly fight with our sinful nature. We need to come to God again and again and receive his strength and assurance. Of course, there is no need for God forgives again and again. Once God forgives us, which means forever. But our spiritual immaturity keeps bothering us. To get mature, we need constant interaction with God. Then we get into a deeper and deeper relationship with God, and we experience more and more His love as remembering how terrible our sin was to God, the other person, and ourselves.
After all, is there any better blessing than experiencing deeper and deeper God in His love? That is why we can boldly say all things (including our sins) work together for HIs good.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
It does not mean that anyone goes out and sins to experience His love more. Yes, in theory, it works, but the person should bear the consequence of the sin because God will work on the person to take out such a foolish heart forever. Please listen carefully to what Jesus said about Judas, who sold Jesus.
For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!” (Matthew 26:24)
Jacob again fled from Esau, although he got forgiveness from God and Esau. Despite Jacob’s disappointing behavior, God was with Jacob. Why? God loved Jacob because Jacob was His beloved child. God, then, was with Jacob.
Then Jacob arrived safely at the town of Shechem, in the land of Canaan. There he set up camp outside the town. Jacob bought the plot of land where he camped from the family of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for 100 pieces of silver. And there he built an altar and named it El-Elohe-Israel. This means “God, the God of Israel.” Israel is Jacob’s new name. Finally, Jacob openly declared God is the God of Israel, the new Jacob born out of the night-long prayer of wrestling over his past sin with God.
Unfortunately, Jacob again lied to his brother, Esau, and went in a different direction to Shechem, which was not Seir as he promised with his brother Esau. Most of all, it was not the place he promised with God when we fled to his uncle’s house in Haran. But God was with Jacob. At the same time, many new things were waiting for Jacob. Jacob was about to go through them till coming back to the place he promised with God.
Yes, God was always with Jacob. God kept leading Jacob till Jacob truly became Israel, who, as the name suggested, could overcome anything before God and men under all circumstances in faith in God. God was faithful, and he never loosened his grip on Jacob. God who loved Jacob went with Jacob to the end.
The same God is always with us. No matter what happens in our lives, God is with us. And what God truly wants from us is what God wanted from Jacob – fully matured to eat hard food, not just milk which is only for a spiritually newly born baby.
I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, (1 Corinthians 3:2)
God knows where we are in our spiritual life journey. God provides the best food that we need at His perfect time. Then what should we do? We should not lean on our understanding, but we constantly seek Him with prayer while being sensitive to what God says to us and trusting Him under all circumstances.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)