"THE CRIPPLING THAT CROWNS"
And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
And he said unto him, What [is] thy name? And he said, Jacob.
And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
I. JACOB IS UNDER SEVERE PRESSURE.
A. In a way, his past has caught up with him.
1. He has just had a very strained experience in saying goodbye.
2. His father-in-law has made severe threats against him.
3. Had it not been for the help of the Lord things would have been a lot worse.
4. The line has been drawn in the sand, the pillar of rocks set the line which neither is to pass.
5. Thus there is no retreating for Jacob.
B. His servants have just returned with the news that his brother Esau who was planning to kill him because he had deceived their father into giving the family blessing to him was on his way to meet him with 400 men.
1. He can't go back.
2. He is afraid to go forward, but he must for there is no place left for him to go.
C. Jacob is so scared that he even prays.
1. He reminds God that God told him to return to his family and country, and God would do well with him.
2. He acknowledged that he did not deserve anything from God he was not worthy the least of His mercies. Yet God had been merciful and good to him.
3. The last time he crossed this Jordan 20 years ago, all he had was the walking stick.
4. Now he has such and abundance of cattle, sheep, goats, servants and children, that he has to divide them into two companies to travel.
5. He confesses his fear of his brother Esau. He is fearful that Esau will even kill his wives and children.
D. Now we have learned that Jacob is a very cunning and clever man.
1. He is extremely self reliant.
2. He is always taking advantage of others.
3. He makes sure that he gets the best of every deal.
4. He will not stop at lying or cheating to get the advantage in each situation.
E. Even now we see him scheming and planning to try to appease his brother's fury before he gets to Jacob.
1. He sends out his servants before him with gifts for his brother.
2. He carefully plans that they meet him one at a time with intervals between.
3. He instructs the servants just what to say when Esau inquires of the herds.
4. These are gifts from Jacob the servant of Esau.
5. Hopefully by the time his brother gets to him his anger will have abated.
6. It seems that Jacob just can't help himself, he is a crooked conniving thief.
F. Now as a last resort, he divides his goods into two companies.
1. The idea being is that if Esau begins to smite the one company, the other can flee from him.
2. Tomorrow is going to be a rough day, it will be the great showdown.
3. Jacob crosses the Jabok with the family and gets them bedded down, then he recrosses the stream that he might be alone and get a good nights rest, so that he will be well rested in case he will have to flee.
II. JACOB'S WRESTLING WITH THE ANGEL.
A. As Jacob is trying to get some sleep, suddenly an angel appears and begins to wrestle with him.
1. Though Jacob is an old man, he is tenacious and he wrestles all night long.
2. Jacob will not give up, he will not surrender but wrestles till the break of day.
3. When the day begins to dawn, and the angel sees that Jacob will not give up, he touches the muscles in the thigh of Jacob causing them to shrivel and Jacob becomes a hopeless cripple.
B. His last resort is now taken away. If Esau begins to smite the servants and his family, he can not run away, he is a cripple.
C. Jacob now breaks, he has come beyond his limits, he realizes that he is helpless to flee from Esau if he is still angry and bent on killing him.
D. The angel said to Jacob, let me go for the day is breaking. Jacob responds, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
1. This sounds like Jacob is still in the drivers seat. He is making demands of the angel.
2. He demands a blessing before he will let him go.
3. The angel asks: "What is your name?" To which he answered conniving thief. (Jacob) "Your name will no longer be called rotten thief, but ruled by God, for as a prince you have power with God and with man, and have prevailed."
4. Again it sounds like Jacob is in control of the situation, still using his own wits and guise to get the advantage over others.
5. We must turn to the prophet Hosea to fully understand this part of the story, speaking of Jacob Hosea said:
He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:
Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him:
6. Hosea shows us how he prevailed. "He made supplication and with weeping."
7. It was not that Jacob was in control, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." But with tears, "Please do not go without blessing me."
a. He had come to his limits.
b. He had come to the breaking point.
c. He can no longer struggle and fight against God, he must surrender.
d. His life is no longer to be governed by his cleverness, he will now be governed by God.
e. The crippling of Jacob by God was the means by which God was able to bring him into a totally new relationship with himself.
III. WHAT THIS STORY TEACHES US.
A. No matter how resourceful and clever you might be, someday you will face circumstances that are beyond your ability to control.
1. The place where you have to reach out for help.
2. This is the crisis point of your life, everything now depends as to where you will reach.
a. Some reach for a bottle of pills.
b. Some reach for a gun.
c. This is the place where many reach out for the Lord.
d. Those who reach for the pills or gun end their lives in tragedy.
e. Those who reach out for the Lord, find that the Lord has been waiting for them the whole while, He is right there to help them and deliver them.
B. God only cripples to crown.
1. The next morning as Jacob again crossed the ford of the Jabok he has great difficulty, because he is a cripple, the muscle in his thigh has been shrivelled.
a. I can see Rebekah running up to him and saying, "Heel catcher, what is wrong?" And Jacob replying, don't call me heel catcher, Jacob, call me ruled by God, Israel."
b. There has been a glorious crowning in his life, he will no longer be ruled by his own wits, but he will be ruled by God.
c. The pressure is off, God is now in control, He will do whatever He pleases in these circumstances. I will commit the future to Him. I will let Him protect me, I will let Him prosper me, I will rest in Him.
d. What a great relief when we turn our lives over to the Lord. The burden is lifted and we are free. God loves me and will only allow those things in my life that will work for His good eternal purposes.
e. If it takes a crippling experience in my life to bring me to this place of blessing and glory, so be it.
C. Perhaps some of you today have been wrestling with God, and you come to that point where you are ready to give up. This could be the worst day of your life, or the greatest day of your life, it all depends upon you, where you turn for help.
D. I want to read you a scripture which is sort of a post script to the story today:
And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.
E. Hubert Mitchell when just a young man went to Sumatra as a missionary. His wife died while they were there and he was left to raise the children. It was then that he wrote the music to the poem written by Annie Johnson Flint, and he sang: When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father's full giving has only begun. His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power has no boundaries known unto man, For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.