Many years ago--many, many, many, many, many years ago when I first came to know the Lord, right afterwards, I had a real desire for fellowship. I was living in the Bay Area of Northern California. All I had was a motorcycle and a backpack. That's all that I owned. But I wanted to go back down, back home, see my family, see my friends, get involved in growing in the Lord. So I took a long motorcycle trip from the Bay Area back down to Southern California. I especially couldn't wait to see my brother. I wanted him to hear this message. Now I was very green. I was very wet behind the ears. I needed to grow in the Lord. I knew nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And that's a good thing but it was a bad thing in another sense because I was there to give him advice about his life and I really didn't have much advice to give. Without going into all of that, the Lord was dealing with me early on about surrendering to Him. I, like so many other Christians that I have met since then, sort of saw Christianity as adding Jesus to my life. Here's my life. Here's my plans. It's all about my future and, in effect, Jesus Christ had become a spoke in my wheel. I soon discovered He didn't want to be a spoke in my wheel. He wanted to be the very hub of the wheel. That my life was to revolve and rotate around Him, His plan, His purpose. Not to have Him added to my life and Him revolving around my purpose. So after that long journey I was sitting at my parent's house in my previous bedroom and I was reading through the Bible that I owned called Good News for Modern Men. It was the New Testament in modern English. That's the translation. And I was reading through Matthew, that's the first book. I'm reading through Matthew, I come to chapter 5, I'm going through the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, and I remember distinctly that particular of the New Testament in the Beatitudes. And one of them, put in that Good News for Modern Men version, went like this: happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires. And I stopped. I stopped because I knew I was busted. I was nailed to the wall. I read that and I went uh-oh. Now granted I was only a week or two old in the Lord, but that particular text reached out and grabbed me and I had to admit my greatest desire in life was not to do what God requires but now I wanted it to be. And that was a turning point for me. That was one of those threshold moments and there would be many more after that where God was trying to deal with me. Skip, I don't want to be a spoke in your wheel. I want to be the very hub. Are you willing to pray for and make your greatest desire to be what I require? And I remember that afternoon, that summer afternoon in July, very, very, very prominently in my mind. After that moment, I found this book. I still have it. By Andrew Murray called Absolute Surrender. It's exactly what I needed to read. It's exactly what the Lord was dealing with me on. And in particular something that jumped out at me and I'll read it for you in that book by Andrew Murray where he writes this: God wants us to be separate from the world. We are called to come out from the world that hates God, come out for God and say, Lord, anything for Thee! If you say that with prayer and speak that into God's ear, He will accept it and He will teach you what it means. I say again God will bless you. You've been praying for a blessing but do remember there must be absolute surrender. Every tea table shows you that. Why is tea poured into that cup? Because it's empty and it's given up for the tea. But put ink or vinegar or wine into it and will they pour tea into that vessel? And can God fill you? Can God bless you if you are not absolutely surrendered to Him? He cannot. Let us believe that God has wonderful blessings for us if we will but stand up for God and say, even with a trembling will, yet with a believing heart, O God, I accept Thy demands. I am Thine and all that I have. Absolute surrender is what my soul yields to Thee by divine grace. Many people who have become Christians are Christians. They're saved by God's grace. And yet they're still mastered by their own flesh. They're not mastered by God. They're still resisting God's will. They're still living as though God exists to please them rather than vice versa. I share all of that as an introduction to chapter 32 because we find that God will be, has been, and will be dealing with Jacob on this very issue. Chapter 32 is a turning point for a con man named Jacob. There's already been one turning point and that was at Bethel. Remember Bethel where he had that dream of God some twenty years earlier, of the angels of God, ascending and descending upon that ladder and he woke up the next day and said God's here! I didn't even know it! Well now he's coming back and the second turning point isn't Bethel but Penuel. Penuel--which means the face of God because of an incident that we're going to read in chapter 32 where God gets a hold of Jacob. In fact, wrestles him. In fact, cripples him so that after that incident he walks with a limp. And we'll see why. It's one of the best things that ever happened to Jacob. Do you know that the Bible says whom the Lord loves He chastens? He scourges or spanks every son, every child, that comes to Him. And you know what? I've learned to thank God for all of the spankings that my gracious, wonderful, loving, heavenly Dad dishes out. I've needed every one of them and I've learned from every one of them, as Jacob will learn here. Whom the Lord loves, He chastens. And tonight I think we're gonna see that in chapter 32. Now for twenty years Jacob has been outside the land of promise. The land of promise is Canaan. He's gonna give it to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their progeny--the twelve tribes--and that nation. He's been outside of the land of promise for twenty years but, mark this, he's been outside of the land of promise but not outside of the hand of promise. God has been with him as he said when he was leaving at Bethel. And now he is coming back into the land. Let me just remind you where he's at. He's up in a place called Gilead and he's gonna come down and cross over the Jabbok River, a tributary of the Jordan, and come back into the land that he left. He is between Laban, his uncle, and Esau, his brother, none of which he has a good relationship with. He's between Padan Aram, or what is ancient Iraq, that would be called Iraq in modern terms, Padan Aram in ancient terms, and he's coming on very difficult territory into the land of Canaan to meet his brother whom he believes is out to kill him because, after all, twenty years before this his brother Esau said, as soon as the days of mourning for my father are over, I'm gonna kill that brother of mine. That's what's in his mind. So that's why I said you can name this chapter "Between Iraq and a Hard Place". A rock and a hard place. Between two very, very difficult places. Now he's in between two difficult places. He just left Laban. He's going to meet Esau. He's, as you'll see, very, very scared--frightened like a little child. He's between these two difficult places and God has allowed him to be. Mark that as well. God has allowed him to be between two difficult places because he has some things to deal with. When I was a kid at Christmastime, we'd always have, I remember my parents would bring out nuts. It was a Christmas tradition. But not like shelled nuts. They were nuts in the shells and a little nutcracker next to them. You had to crack them yourself. Well I loved that because it gave me something to do. I always liked to be busy. So I cracked the nuts. I discovered that some nuts were harder to crack than others. Some shells are just tough and the way that the construction of them is and the symmetry and the roundness, it takes more pressure to crack them. Some people, like those nuts, require more pressure. You know, some people learn easily. Some people do not. And I've discovered God has a class for each type of person--a special classroom. You think that Padan Aram was the school of hard knocks, what he's gonna get here is also a very difficult situation for him. But he's gonna discover that God goes before Him. Chapter 32 verse 1: "So Jacob went on his way," that's after the Laban incident, after saying goodbye to him, "and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, "This is God's camp." And he called the name of that place Mahanaim." Which means double camp. In other words, there's others in this campground, boys. We're not the only ones camping out here. The angels are. Now it just says it as a matter of fact. You know, he passed from there and he went to there and the angels of God were there to meet him. Hey Jacob, how you doing today? Good angels, great to see you. Now we discovered back in chapter 28 that angels were there on Jacob's way out of the land and now Jacob's way into the land--they show up again. Why? I don't exactly know. It could be that it's showing us that this is a very special land, that the borders are guarded by God's angels. As God even said in Deuteronomy, the eyes, My eyes are on this land, the land of Canaan, Israel, from the beginning of the year to the very end of it. Or it could be simply God's way of saying, I've been watching over you and directing and guiding you all of this time. You're going out and now you're coming in. It was a sign to him. Psalm 34 says the Angel of the Lord encamps, love that, encamps around those who fear Him and delivers him. So here's the angels of God that are encamping around him as he's coming back in. In our modern era, angels have been popularized. They've become very popular in the last decade or two. But almost over popularized. They've gotten to the schmaltzy stage where people just see them as little decorations. Oh do you like my angel collection? If you have an angel collection, please don't write me an email about this. My mom used to collect angels. I read an article of some woman who had collected like 104,000 angels. She had to move doors and windows and she didn't have enough cabinets so she added an extra room just for her dumb angel collection. Whatever. Whatever you're into. And there's angel sightings. I've heard people say yeah so and so was out on the freeway the other day and they tell you this fanciful story. And angel sightings have got about as popular nowadays as Elvis sightings. I don't know if there's like an Elvis angel out there to combine the two. I don't know about that but one woman, who claims to be an angelologist, said her guardian angel, I read this in an article, helped her to lose 150 pounds. So a new diet plan: the angel plan. I guess you eat angel food cake... no, you couldn't do that. Now I want you to think about something. It says angels met him. Do you know that perhaps you've met an angel before? I know what you're thinking. You're thinking oh, no, no. If I met an angel I would have definitely realized it. You know, the wings and the white robe, the halo would've given it away. It says in the book of Hebrews: be careful how you entertain strangers, or how you show hospitality to strangers, and that you should do that because in so doing, the writer of Hebrews says, some have entertained angels unaware, or without knowing, without realizing it. The person that you met, that one that you thought was a person, could have perhaps been an angel. Could it be? It says be careful to show hospitality, some have entertained angels unaware. Now here it plainly says that the angels met him. And so he called the name double camp: Mahanaim. Billy Graham calls them secret agents. The angels are God's secret agents. They do a few things and I'll just sum it up for you. By the way, they're mentioned in 34 books of the Bible--17 in the Old, 17 in the New. If you look up the word angel in the Old Testament, I believe it's found 103 times, in the New Testament, I believe it's 165 times. 34 books of the Bible altogether talk about angels. So they're very real. They are, if I were to give you a definition, non-corporeal, that is non-physical, spiritual beings. They're spiritual beings without physical form. However, it would seem that from time to time God clothes them with some ability to share human form so as to interact with humans. Now whenever they have a physical form and a human can see them, they're still magnificent because typically the first thing an angel when they meet a human is don't be afraid! Fear not! Because I'm sure a person would go, ooh! Even at the amazing, dazzling appearance so oftentimes of these beings. They're God's secret agents. What do they do? Well number one they stand in His presence. They stand in His presence. Just like kings, queens, presidents have their own troops and entourage around them. There are angels like in Isaiah 6 or in Revelation 4 and 5 that are angels of God's presence that render worship, praise to God incessantly. So they stand in His presence. Second, they serve God's people. Hebrews 1 says they are ministering spirits sent by God to minister to those of us who inherit salvation. Angels play an active role in your life. I believe you have guardian angels. They minister, the Bible says, to those who inherit salvation. Now some of us, by some of the things we do, the activities we do, be it skateboarding or maybe you do some radical skiing or snowboarding or mountain bike jumping, you know, maybe you have, like, doubled up angels on your court. Some kind of massively strong, very attentive angels. But the truth is all of us have interacted with them. We aren't aware of it but God has dispatched them to minister to us who are heirs of salvation. Ok. So they met him. He called that name Mahanaim. Double camp. "Then Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir," now Seir is down. If you go east of the Jordan River and you go down in the deserts of Jordan, south of what is ancient Edom, towards Saudi Arabia, you're gonna discover Seir. Mount Seir is where Esau went and he evidently had conquered the inhabitants of that land called the Horites and another grow called the Horians and he had become very successful, God had blessed him, and he has, notice the entourage he has coming. "Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. And he commanded them, saying, "Speak thus to my lord," interesting choice of words, "my lord Esau, 'Thus your servant,'" Again, interesting choice of words, "your servant Jacob says: "I have dwelt with Laban and stayed there until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female servants," hint, hint, hint, "and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight."'" Now Jacob is the one who initiates contact with his brother. Why? Well remember how they had that falling out, when Jacob stole his brother's blessing. Jacob knows there's gonna be no peace between he and his brother unless he resolves the issue that he has left unresolved twenty years before when he had to flee because he stole his brother's blessing. Now I do find it interesting that he calls his brother 'my lord Esau' because that's not how he thought about him twenty years before this. Where did he learn this buttering up approach? Where did he learn this kind of flattery? From Uncle Laban. Twenty years of being with Laban. Laban knew how to pour it on. The first time he saw Jacob he goes, oh my, you're my own flesh and blood sent to me by God! And all the time he's figuring out a way to connive and get him to work for him and he does successfully. And then when he's about to leave he says, oh you can't leave! Don't you know God, your God, our God, has blessed me because of you? I'll give you anything you want! He just knew how to butter up Jacob and Jacob learned quite well, was watching this quite attentively, and I think he's employing this same kind of characteristics to flatter his brother because he doesn't want his brother to kill him. "Then," verse 6, "the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, "We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him." That's not what Jacob wanted to hear. He's thinking, oh man am I toast! It's curtains for me. "So Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies. And he said, "If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the other company which is left will escape." Now watch how Jacob operates. He's gonna divide his people into two camps and then more camps, four camps later on, and he's anticipating that his brother's gonna attack and kill the first camp. Guess which camp he's gonna be in--personally? Think he'll be in the first one? Oh no. He's gonna be way in the back using his children and wives as buffers for him. The little wuss! That's his approach. He's figuring it all out. He's anticipating all in his mind. Verse 9--watch this: "Then Jacob said," now he's gonna pray. This is the first recorded or written, this is the first time we get to hear Jacob pray. I'm not saying it's the first time he prayed. He did pray before, but now it's recorded for us. So let's read through it and then we'll make comments on it. "Jacob said, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you': I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant, for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. For You said, 'I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.'" Jacob really isn't much different than we are, right? It seems that when our back is against the wall, when we're in a pinch, when there is adversity, then we go, O God! We start praying. I find his prayer interestingly timed. I'm glad he prayed. I don't want to knock him too much but I also know it's part of human nature. We merrily go our way, I got it all under control, I got this covered, I'm a smart one, you know, I got it all figured out, until we're out of options, we're at the end of our rope, we're between a rock and a hard place, and then we say, O God! We start praying because now we realize we need to depend on One greater than ourselves. The hymn writer put it well: O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. Everything. But he's afraid and, in his fear and in distress, he begins to pray to the Lord. Could it be, just a possibility, that one of the reasons God allows or prescribes steady amounts of adversity in our lives, is so that we'll always depend on Him? There were three ministers having a theological discussion about the proper position for prayer. One of them said, I have discovered that the proper position for prayer is while seated with the hands folded and the thumbs pointing heavenward, indicating to Whom I trust. The second reverend in the group said, I disagree wholeheartedly. I've found the best position in prayer is to show humility and be on one's knees with your hands raised in the air to God. The third reverend said, I have to disagree with both of you chaps. I think if you really want to show humility, you have to get prostrate on the ground, all the way down, before God. Now in the background, a telephone repairman was listening to these three theologians talk and he finally interrupted and said, you know what I've discovered fellas? The best position for prayer that I've ever been in is when I was dangling 40 feet above the ground on a telephone pole by my heels. That was the most effective prayer I ever prayed. In other words, while in extremis, at the end of my rope, or at the end of my pole, in his situation. They are very effective. This was a very effective prayer. Now notice something about it. I'm glad it's given to us. In verse 9, he recounts the past. I'm giving you a few of the elements of his prayer. He recounts the past. Notice he calls God by His covenant name: God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac. He's putting God in the context of who He has been historically. I think that's healthy. When you pray, recognize to Whom you're praying. Remember in Acts chapter 4 when the disciples were threatened by the leadership in Jerusalem? The church got together and the prayer went something like this: O God? O Lord God, You made the heavens and the earth and everything that is in them. Who by the mouth of Your servant David, and he quotes Psalm 2, he put it into the context. I realize the One I'm talking to is the One who made everything. I realize the One I'm talking to is the same One who has fulfilled all of the promises to Abraham, all of the promises to my father Jacob, so he recounts the past. Number two, he recalls the promise as if he's saying, look, Lord, the reason I'm here in this land, this new land, the reason I left Padan Aram, is because You told me I should come and You blessed me for it. So here I am. I'm here because You told me to go. He's reminding God, not that you need to remind God, but really reminding himself in prayer before the Lord God's purpose. The third element is he realizes his own unworthiness. Did you notice that? Verse 10. Boy, Jacob's changing. "I am not worthy," he says, "of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant". I'm not worthy. You're merciful but I'm not worthy. In other words, he's acknowledging that he's a sinner, that he's falling short. Proverbs 28 says he who covers his sin will not prosper but whoever confesses and forsakes his sin, that God will bless that person, will find mercy, it says, in Proverbs 28. Find mercy. I'm not worthy, he said, of the least of your mercies. Finally notice he requests deliverance. This is the heart of his prayer. Verse 11: "Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau," now watch this, "for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children." He confesses something negative before the Lord. Please notice that. And notice that it's in his prayer and the reason I bring it up is because some folks make such a big deal out of having a positive confession. Don't have a negative confession. Never utter a negative confession but always a positive confession. So if you're sick, don't say I'm sick--that's a negative confession. Because you'll get sick if you say I'm sick. All of that nonsense. Listen, you know why he made a negative confession? Because he was honest. It's better to make a negative confession and be honest than to make a positive confession and be dishonest. Tell the Lord what you feel. If you feel it, tell Him. Do you think God can't handle it? Do you think God will go oh I can't believe you said that! Doesn't the Bible say the Lord knows our frame and remembers that we are dust? You think God has high expectations for dust? I'm just so disappointed in My dust today! I'm afraid, God. I'm afraid I'm gonna die. Several years ago, there was a man who came up to me after a service with crutches. He had a broken leg. I had heard that he broke his leg. And I said to him, I'm so sorry that you broke your leg. I'd like to pray for you. And he goes don't bother. It's not broken. And I said excuse me? Not broken! I'm believing and standing on faith. Now he's saying this while he's on crutches, hobbling, telling me he doesn't have a broken leg and he says because God has healed me. I said are you sure about that? Yes, I'm sure! Don't give me a negative confession. I said well then do me a favor, would you? Don't tell any unbelievers that God has healed you while you're on crutches. They're all gonna think God does a lousy job of healing people if you call that a healing. Lord, I'm afraid! I know what's coming. And he was honest before God. "For You said," verse 12, "I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.'" Now I love this. God did tell him that. He's thinking things out loud. He's processing things out loud. I'm afraid for my life yet at the same time how can I die if You said I'm gonna have a lot of kids? And how can these children die if You made these promises? We have to live for this thing to be fulfilled. "So he lodged there that same night, and took what came to his hand as a present for Esau his brother:" now watch this present, "two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milk camels with their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten foals. Then he delivered them to the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, "Pass over before me, and put some distance between successive droves." And he commanded the first one, saying, "When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, saying, 'To whom do you belong, and where are you going? Whose are these in front of you?' then you shall say, 'They are your servant Jacob's. It is a present sent to my lord Esau; and behold, he also is behind us.'" Behind us. They're the human shields. "So he commanded the second, the third, and all who followed the droves, saying, "In this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him; and also say, 'Behold, your servant Jacob is behind us.'" For he said, "I will appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me." So the present went on over before him, but he himself lodged that night in the camp." 580 animals was the gift. It proves that Jacob had gotten very wealthy while he was in Padan Aram. God had been very good to him because this is a sizable gift. This is a huge flock in and of itself that he's giving. So what is he doing? He's softening the blow. He's trying to buy him off, give him present after present after present, successive waves of gift after gift after gift, so finally he would think if he's angry, how can I kill this guy? He's so nice to me. That's what all this is about--softening him up. Ok. Go back to his prayer. You don't have to go back to it, you can if you want, but think in your mind of his prayer. When he prayed and asked God for deliverance, did he really believe God was gonna deliver him? Well evidently it wasn't that strong of a prayer or it didn't have that much faith. He did say look, Lord, You said this and I'm gonna put my trust in You but, you know, with all of this wrangling afterwards it would seem that though he prayed, it wasn't very much faith involved. And can I just say I relate to that? I relate to that. Do you remember the man who came to Jesus and Jesus said, do you believe? Anything's possible to those who believe. And he said, I believe, Lord, but help my unbelief. Do you ever feel that way sometimes? Yeah, Lord, I trust You, but, you know, there's just this part of me. Help my unbelief. That's how he comes. It's so typical. It's so typical of us. How often do we unload our burden in prayer before the Lord and then, no sooner did we unload it, but we pick it back up, nicely place it on our little back, and march out of God's presence. God, um, You doing anything with that little burden I gave You? Do You mind if I have it back just for a little while? It seems we do that. It seems that Jacob did that. Let's see what happens. Verse 22: "And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons," he had daughters, too, but the eleven sons are mentioned, "and crossed over the ford of Jabbok." Let me just help you place Jabbok. In between the Sea of Galilee up north and the Dead Sea down south, the Jordan River connects both of those bodies of water. Right in between, about midway, is the Jabbok River, about 22 miles it flows from the east, northeast, and joins and flows into the Jordan River. Very, very steep and precipitance. That's why the Jabbok was the ancient boundary between North Gilead and South Gilead or Og and Bashan before that. It was a natural barrier, natural border. He crossed that that night--the Jabbok River. "He took them," verse 23, "sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone". So often God wants to get us alone. Quiet. No one around. And they'll He'll speak to us. Now He's gonna speak very dramatically. "Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man," notice that and notice that if your Bible is my version it's capitalized, is it not? Ok. "Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him." It's the first wrestling match in history. You remember the show some years ago Touched by an Angel? This is the first episode. But it was called Punched by an Angel. Jacob was assaulted by this Man. Now it's funny. I've read a lot of different commentaries, a lot of different books, and seen this as an example and typically, how commentators and pastors love to deal with this passage is here's Jacob wrestling with God in prayer. That's how it's often taken. Jacob isn't wrestling with God. The Man assaulted him. Wrestled with him. It's not that Jacob saw Him and goes I'm gonna pick me a fight. That's God. I'm gonna wrestle Him and get something out of Him. It's God, through this Him, this Man, wrestling Jacob to bring him to an end of himself and cause him to surrender. So this wrestling match goes on. And I've got to give it to Jacob--on and on through the night. Now probably, I'm just figuring this, but I believe it happened. I think he sent his wives and everybody over the river and said I'll join you, I'm just gonna spend the night here. Why? I'm thinking he's thinking I just need one night's good sleep. I've been with Laban and had the confrontation with him and I didn't have a good night's sleep with him and now that's gone. I'm about to see Esau and you know, if I could just get alone with my thoughts and just get one good night's sleep. Well he didn't get one good night's sleep. Middle of the night, he's attacked. As it says, he was left alone and a Man wrestled with him to the breaking of day. What is happening, as we'll see I believe, is God is cracking the nut. The hard shell of Jacob until he finally just clings to the Lord toward the end of this. I distinctly remember witnessing to a gal named Linda at a hospital I worked at years ago in California. And every time I would witness to her and share something with her, day after day, she would always have some little smart remark or she would do a little bit of research to try to prove me wrong and prove the Bible wrong. And day after day I'd keep sharing with her and I'd answer her questions and share a little bit more and answer the next question. And eventually I could see her starting to crack till one night, in desperation, out in the parking lot of the hospital, she just lashed out at me. And I said, Linda, you're fighting God. He's got you pinned up against the wall. Just give it up. Just throw in the towel. Just quit fighting Him. Surrender to Him tonight and watch what happens. She just broke down in tears and cried and four or five minutes later she prayed to receive Jesus Christ. Threw up the white flag. I surrender. And that's what Jacob is doing, I believe, in this passage. "Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks." But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless Me!" Interesting. that's exactly what he asked his father for twenty years earlier. Now he's asking this Man for a blessing. Something he should have done twenty years before. "So He said to him, "What is your name?" He said heel-catcher. "And He said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob [or Jacob], but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed." Now who is this Person? He's called a Man here. Hosea chapter 12 calls Him an Angel of the Lord. But it goes on to say that God Almighty met with Jacob. Now because of that, Hosea chapter 12, along with what we just read, most Christian scholars believe, and even one Hebrew Old Testament scholar that I found, believe that this is some physical apparition of God in the Old Testament. And most scholars believe it's called a Christophany or, if you will, a Theophany: the appearance of Christ in a preincarnate form in the Old Testament. Or, if you prefer, the, not an, the Angel of the Lord. Much like Genesis chapter 18 when the Lord appeared to Abraham with two other angels. Those two angels went on to Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham stood before the Lord, He is called. The appearance of a Man on a mission. Thus the term messenger or angel--same thing. But some believe it is the Lord Himself that he was fighting with. Now it's really not a wrestling match. I don't want you to get this idea that, you know, gosh, they're, who's gonna win this? There's Jacob fighting this Man--ooh! Jacob gotta a really good grip on Him! What's gonna happen? It wasn't that at all. As soon as this Man wanted to end it, He just touched, didn't even hit, just touched Jacob's hip and bam! And he's incapacitated. Question: why did He touch his hip? So he couldn't run. That's what he was used to doing his whole life--running. When he stole the blessing twenty years before from his brother, what did he do? He ran away. When he was with Laban and he wanted to leave, how did he do it? He ran away. And he's probably thinking I can just run away. Touched his hip. Incapacitated. He can't run. Now he's clinging to the Lord at this point. He's saying, verse 26, "Let Me go, for the day breaks." But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!" He's asking this Man, the Lord, to bless him. Clinging to Him. God's turning him from a conniver to a clinger. From a wrestler to a rester. As Corrie ten Boom used to say, stop wrestling and start nestling. He's just abiding in the Lord. Verse 28, I'm not gonna call you Jacob anymore. Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, "for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed. Then Jacob asked, saying, "Tell me Your name, I pray." And He said, "Why is it that you ask about My name?" And He blessed him there." So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel". And this is why: "For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob's hip in the muscle that shrank." What does the word Israel mean? Some scholars translate it God strives or God fights or God rules. I think the best idea of the change is one who fights victoriously with God. That's the idea. Jacob, you've been fighting God and man your whole life. I'm changing your name because I'm changing you into somebody who fights victoriously with God. No longer against God. No longer even for God but with God. Israel. One who fights victoriously with God. Verse 32 gives us a little footnote: "Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob's hip in the muscle that shrank." According to scribal law called the Ha-lakah, it is the kosher thing to pull out the tendon and the sciatic nerve of this area and throw it away and discard it and not eat it because of this. Jacob, because of this, comes to an end of himself and the real secret of your strength, if you want to know, what is the secret of Christian strength; you want to know what it is? The real secret? Admitting your weakness. It's not look in the mirror, smile till you look confident so you can go out and go out and say hi and have that confidence about you. The secret of great spiritual strength is to admit I'm weak. You go Skip, that doesn't make sense. That's counterintuitive. But it's what Paul learned. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12, said, you know, I got this weird thing, he called it a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, three times I asked the Lord to deliver me from it, and all that God said to him was, My grace is enough for you. It's sufficient. He said I asked the Lord three times to deliver me from the thorn in the flesh and God just kept saying, My grace is enough for you. My strength, God said, is made perfect when you're weak. So then Paul continues and he says, most gladly then I will boast in my weakness and my infirmity. I will take pleasure in my weakness and my infirmity, for when I am weak then I am strong. How does that work? How could it be that when you're weak you're strong? Because when you're weak you recognize you're weak and you depend and lean upon Him and He gives you strength beyond yourself. That's why it's the secret of strength. I'm calling you Israel, one who fights victoriously with God, not one who trips somebody up, catching their heel, manipulating them, conning them. It indicated God had a change in store. Now we have just nine minutes, which is plenty of time, to finish chapter 33. Trust me. We're just gonna go through it because it's the pay-off. "Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and there, Esau was coming, and with him were four hundred men." He swallowed hard. "So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maidservants. And he put the maidservants and their children in front". Yeah. Yeah. "Leah and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last," because those were his prized possessions. That's the woman he loved and the only son by him. "Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother." Just bowing, a little closer, bowing, and a little bit closer, bowing, little bit closer, bowing, that's four, little bit closer, bowing, five--you get the picture. Seven times. But watch this: "But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. You know what this tells me? It wasn't Jacob's plan that worked; it was Jacob's prayer that worked. He prayed O God, I'm gonna die, would You please help me? Ok. Now let me figure this out here. I gotta plan this. Four companies, maybe five companies, animals, presents, yeah. God had already gotten it all handled, changed Esau's heart. Let me tell you a quick little story. It comes to us by Flavius Josephus the historian. You've heard of Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great conquered the world so quickly that he even surprised himself. He made it all the way to the Indies River and there he wept like a baby because there were no more worlds for him to conquer. He was such a swift, apt warrior. When Alexander the Great, on his journeys eastward, came to Tyre, the city of Tyre up in modern day Lebanon, to overtake it, and he surrounded the city and he eventually knew that he had to take Tyre, he sent troops down to Jerusalem to get an alliance from the Jews in Jerusalem to get food, supplies, and help to conquer Tyre. He was met by a guy named Jaduah the high priest who said, I'm sorry we can't help you because we have signed an agreement with your arch enemy Darius the Persian. So the message went back to Alexander the Great: Alexander now marches against Jerusalem. And everybody thinks the Jews are dead, Jerusalem's toast, it's gonna be destroyed. When he comes outside of Jerusalem, Jaduah the high priest marches out to meet Alexander the Great. This is 332 BC according to Josephus. Opens the scrolls of the Old Testament and shows Alexander the Great where he is predicted by the prophet Daniel to conquer the Medo-Persian Empire and the world--swiftly. He shows him the prophecy about himself in the Scripture. And they have a meeting, the high priest and Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great dismounts from off his horse and bows down to the ground in front of the high priest, the Jewish high priest. Alexander's second-in-command is, like, baffled, thinking, uh, why aren't you gonna kill these people? And he says because, before I even made my journey to the East, while I was still in Macedonia, I had a dream at night that I would meet a man dressed in the garb of a high priest who would predict to me that I would rule the world. And so he comes there and he meets a man of God who shows him the Scripture and he sees this as the fulfillment of an already given dream and he spares the city. In other words, God had it all in control before Alexander the Great came to Jerusalem. In a very similar manner, God had it all handled, God handled Esau, way before Jacob saw him. So Jacob's going, oh no, oh no, oh no, and Esau just weeps and embraces him and loves on him. It's amazing. "And they wept. And he lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, "Who are these with you?" So he said, "The children whom God has graciously given your servant." Then the maidservants came near, they and their children, and bowed down. And Leah also came near with her children, and they bowed down. Afterward Joseph and Rachel came near, and they bowed down. Then Esau said, "What do you mean by all this company which I met?" And he said, "These are to find favor in the sight of my lord." But Esau said, "I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself." Now do you notice the language between these two? Jacob is calling him my lord and I'm your servant and here's Esau, there's nothing between him, he just calls, hey look, you're my brother, man. We're brothers. Enough of this stuff. "And Jacob said, "No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God," oh please, "and you were pleased with me. Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough." So he urged him, and he took it. Then Esau said, "Let us take our journey; let us go, and I will go before you." But Jacob said to him, "My lord knows that the children are weak, and the flocks and the herds which are nursing with me. And if the men should drive them hard one day, all the flock will die. Please let my lord go on ahead before his servant. I will lead on slowly at a pace which the livestock that go before me, and the children, are able to endure, until I come to my lord in Seir." Now a footnote. There's never a record that Jacob went to meet Esau in Seir. Now he may have but there's no record that he did. It would seem like he says, no, go on and I'll visit you. You know, don't call me--I'll call you. We'll do lunch. Never saw him after that. "So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house, and made booths," that's what Succoth means, by the way. There's a feast called that, we'll get to that later, "and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. Then Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his tent before the city. And he bought the parcel of land, where he had pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for one hundred pieces of money." Notice he bought a house. Up to this point he was living in a tent, he was a Bedouin moving around from place to place. The fact that he's buying land and making a permanent shelter shows that he's settling down. Finally. I remember a conversation my mom had with me. I was taking a three-month vacation around the United States driving in my truck years ago. I remember the last words my mom said to me. She goes, I just hope you find a place and settle down. Finally Jacob is settling down in the land that he's going back to. Now notice it's called Shechem. Fast forward to John chapter 4, the woman at the well of Samaria. This is the place and remember what Jesus said to her? If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you give Me a drink you would have asked Him and He would give you living water. And she looks at Him and says what are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself? This is that place that she will be living at in the area of Samaria later on. Verse 20 ends it--just on time: "Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel." The God, the God of Israel. Leighton Ford, who worked with Dr. Billy Graham, used to say, God loves you just the way you are but He loves you too much to leave you that way. God loved Jacob way too much to leave him Jacob. He wanted to change him and to change him, He had to sort of chase him and get him in between these two rocky, tough places and add pressure to his life. Maybe you are discovering that. Maybe tonight you're saying boy, I'm feeling really beat-up and I'm afflicted. Ok then look at it as God, you have my attention. Because David wrote before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now I keep your Word. Psalm 119. Could it be that you're resisting something that God is trying to do in your life? Don't know but just ask Him. Like the book Absolute Surrender. Ask Him sincerely: Lord, I sincerely surrender all to You tonight. I don't want to resist. I want to cooperate with You. I want to fight with You. I want to go where You're going. Instead of saying Lord, here's my plans--bless me and bless my plans. Why not say Lord what are Your plans? What are You doing? How can I be on board and be a part of that? That is the most exciting way to live.