Monday, June 20, 2016

Sermon Recap: No Pain, No Gain

Jacob wrestling with some sort of "God-man" in Genesis 32:22-30 is a fascinating story.  I loved preaching on it this past Sunday to kick off our new sermon series:  

The video will be available by Wednesday morning here.

Jacob is so worried that his brother Esau is going to kill him and his family that he prays for God to save him then devises a plan to keep at least some of his family safe in case his fears come true.

It's in this state of fear and worry that the "God-man" initiates a wrestling match with Jacob.  

Commentator Terence Fretheim nails what I think is the point of the encounter:

At the moment of deepest vulnerability and worry for Jacob, God enters into the very depths of the struggle, binding God’s self to Jacob at that level.  Jacob is about to embark on a life-long struggle and he now knows that God the wrestler will be at his side.  The willingness of God to struggle with Jacob affirms a divine commitment to stay with Jacob.  God’s promise (from 28:15) involves not a passive presence, but an active, engaged relationship.

God doesn't initiate this "wrestling match" to get Jacob's attention because God already has his attention (Jacob's prayer just a few short hours before this proves the point).  God initiates this wrestling match to take Jacob's relationship with Him to an entirely new level.  So much so that he changes his name from Jacob (which means "schemer") to Israel (which means one who wrestles with God).

God is the great pursuer of our hearts and even if it takes wrestling with us to bring us to a deeper relationship with Him, that's what He's willing to do.  

In the wrestling, it's our willingness to hold on to God (just like Jacob did) that will bring transformation to our lives.

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