In Genesis, chapters 23-30 we see Jacob being deceitful; taking advantage of his brother, Esau; and lying to his father, Isaac. He had made Esau so angry he had to flee the country. Then, in Genesis 32 we read about Jacob’s journey to the land God had promised to release to Abraham, Isaac, and now Jacob. So many lessons jump off the pages as you read his account of this time in his life.
Jacob had a past he believed would one day force him to recompense for his actions. Such was the case when he went to Laban and asked for Rachel’s hand in marriage. Jacob was forced to spend seven years in labor to prove his love for her, only to have the wool pulled over his eyes and was presented with Leah instead. Then, he spent another seven years in labor for Rachel. What a difficult lesson as he gained new understanding of the deceit he perpetrated against his father and Esau.
As you read the story of his life, you see that Jacob learned to hear the voice of God. He is seen building altars in the places where he found intimate meetings with God. Though he shared fellowship and a relationship with God, Jacob still had to deal with the issues of life. He had troubles with his father-in-law, his wives, and his children.
On Jacob’s journey home he knew in his spirit he would have to face Esau and feared the potential wrath of his brother’s 20 year grudge. In preparation, he began to send gifts of sheep, donkeys, and camels to Esau. Each time a gift was sent, his staff were directed to tell Esau these were from Esau’s humble servant, Jacob. He was preparing the ground for reconciliation and sending the message that he was willing to be a humble servant to receive forgiveness and make amends.
As the servants returned with the message that Esau was coming to meet Jacob and bringing 400 men with him, he was so overwhelmed with the anxiety and fear that he sent his wives, maids, children and all of his possessions away for safety. Jacob then cried out to the Lord for safety and deliverance. The Bible says, “Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched… The man then said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, “ I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Gen. 32:24-26 NIV). The man asked his name and then blessed him there.
Some thoughts we can draw from this story.
- Jacob was brought to a place of humility and service.
- Jacob, although he walked with God, had fear and regret in his heart.
- Jacob recognized his past sins, although forgiven by God, could have consequences.
- Jacob was determined, steadfast, committed to prayer, and seeking forgiveness but there were difficulties.
Everything was on the line. Jacob was physically and emotionally worn out, broken. He had wrestled all night, he was gripped with fear and now he was physically hurt.
Jabbok was a final altar for Jacob—a place of total surrender, a place of brokenness, a place of loneliness. This story reminds me that our lives often culminate where we lay everything on the line for God. We must come to a place of total surrender, alone, face our fears, cry out to God and accept any pressure that may accompany our calling. Our family, financial challenges, and ministry issues weigh heavy on us at times. This may be our Jabbok, a final altar for us but there is a peace that surpasses all understanding.
As we continue our forty-day prayer emphasis, please know that God will meet us at our Jabbok. In fact, I believe for some of you reading this, you have crossed the ford and are feeling totally alone and at a place of brokenness. This is one of the greatest opportunities to come before the Lord, pray and listen. Build your altar, make your sacrifice, and don’t get up until you have wrestled and won His blessing. God will grant you peace, grace, strength and the clarity you need; as well as direct your steps forward.
This place, Jabbok, is a place of angst, pain, and sacrifice. It is a place that I don’t like to visit often in my life. Feeling alone, feeling fear, feeling uncertainty about your future is a tough place to be. But, it is a place Jacob needed to be before he could reconcile with his brother. He needed to be alone, a place of brokenness, crying out for deliverance, and face to face with God. It is here he found that he was in right standing with God, in His will and that God alone would sustain him.
- Jacob was alone with God.
- Jacob was hungry for God.
- Jacob was broken by God.
- Jacob was honest with God.
In 2019, let’s move past our Jabbok, the final altar in our lives, and press on to what God has for us. Is there anything holding you back? Are you living in fear, worry and feeling alone? Build that altar today! Stay there until you find Hope and hear from the Lord.
Remember, the Global Teen Challenge staff is praying for you. Every day of the week during these 40 days and every week of the year, we call out the names of the nations where there are Teen Challenge centers and we pray for the leaders, the staff and the students.
We love you and pray God will bless you.
Global Teen Challenge