I. JACOB THE MAN OF GREAT NATURAL RESOURCES.
A. His name means supplanter. Literally heel catcher. Or one who overcomes by catching another mans heel.
1. He got his name from the events of his birth. He was the second born of twins. His mother had a hard pregnancy and when she inquired of the Lord concerning the difficulty, the Lord told her that there were two nations in her womb that were diverse.
2. Perhaps these little guys were fighting in the womb.
3. As they were born, the first was covered with hair so they named him hairy, when the second was born, perhaps continuing the battle, he grabbed his brothers heel, so they called him heel catcher.
4. We watch him as he cleverly takes advantage of his brother.
a. He is a mama's boy, and his brother is a man's man.
b. He is a gourmet cook, and his brother is a woodsman, a hunter.
c. When his brother had come in from a hunt, tired and hungry, he smelled the lentil soup that Jacob had prepared and asked for a bowl. Jacob took advantage of his brothers famished condition and offered to trade the bowl of lentil soup for his birthright.
d. Later disguised as his brother he went into his aged father and received his fathers blessing.
e. It was for this deed, that Esau swore to kill him as soon as his father was dead.
5. He fled to Haran, to stay with his uncle Laban who was a rotten crook, and deceiver.
a. He was in love with Laban's daughter Rachel, and as a dowry offered to serve him for seven years for his daughter's hand in marriage.
b. The bride was heavily veiled in the night wedding rites, and in the morning when it was light enough to see, Laban had switched daughters and he was actually married to the older daughter Leah.
c. When Jacob came fuming at Laban, he told him that the custom of the land was that the older daughter must be married before her younger sister, but for another seven years he could have the younger sister also.
d. After the seven years were served Laban wanted to keep Jacob on, for he had been greatly prospered through the blessing of the Lord that was on Jacob. He asked him what he wanted for wages to remain on.
e. Jacob said to give to him all of the spotted and brown cattle, and the speckled goats.
f. Immediately Jacob began to mess with the breeding process so that the strongest and best cattle and sheep were brown and spotted.
g. Jacob began to prosper and be very wealthy and had his own servants with the many children that his wives and maids were bearing him.
h. The sons of Laban began to get very jealous of Jacob, and Laban began to change the terms of the deal, so that Jacob realized that the time to leave had come.
6. Jacob waited until Laban and his sons were gone to shear the sheep, and he packed up all his possessions and left, getting a good head start on Laban.
7. When Laban heard that Jacob had gone, he gathered his sons and pursued after him. The night before he caught up with Jacob the angel of the Lord warned him in a dream not to harm Jacob.
8. The meeting was not very cordial, a line was finally drawn over which Jacob was not to return, and they parted.
9. Jacob sent out servants to Esau to let him know that Jacob was returning with great wealth and a large family.
a. This was to let Esau know that he was not trying to return to take from Esau, but had plenty of his own.
10. The servants returned to Jacob and informed him that his brother was coming to meet him, and he had four hundred men with him. Quite a welcoming party.
11. Jacob began to have real misgivings about his plight, and he first of all prayed and reminded the Lord that he had told him to return to his land and family and that the Lord would deal well with him.
12. True to form, he then began his scheming to set things up to meet his brother peaceably.
a. He first divided the whole herds and servants into two bands in case that his brother attacked one, the other could escape.
b. He then sent servants ahead with presents for his brother of flocks and herds.
c. He then helped his family cross the Jabbok and camp down for the night, then he returned back across the river so that he might get a good nights sleep away from the family.
13. But a man came and began to wrestle with him all night long. Jacob fought tenaciously and would not surrender. So when day began to break and Jacob would not give in the angel touched the thigh of Jacob and caused the muscle to shrink so that Jacob became crippled.
14. It was at this point that the angel asked Jacob to let him go because the day was breaking and Jacob responded, I will not let you go until you bless me.
15. Here is where the story becomes confused and misunderstood.
II. JACOB HAD POWER OVER THE ANGEL AND PREVAILED.
A. How could any man have power over and prevail against an angel? Especially when he was not crippled.
1. Here is where the commentary of Hosea helps us very much in understanding the story. Hosea tells us what is not recorded in Genesis.
2. Hosea tells us, "He wept, and made supplication."
3. We realize that Jacob's statement, "I will not let you go until you bless me." was not a demand, but a prayer as he was weeping.
B. Things were looking bad for Jacob, as a last resort, if Esau is coming in anger to avenge the past, Jacob could run. That was until the angel crippled him, now there is no escape. Jacob is defeated. He cannot scheme his way out of this situation. God had finally brought this self sufficient, strong, stubborn, schemer to a place of surrender.
1. He truly brought him to his knees.
2. I see men wrestling with God today, and I often wonder what is it going to take to bring them to their knees.
3. I see them being stripped of all they have, but they stubbornly continue to resist.
4. I see great problems develop in their family, still they try to scheme their way out.
C. So Jacob is crying, he has been defeated, he now surrenders, his stubborn resistance has cost him, he is now permanently crippled, he will have a severe limp the rest of his life.
D. The angel asked him, "What is your name?" He answered, "Heel catcher" a man who has lived by his wits and capacities to overcome others by taking advantage of their weaknesses, or through deceit.
E. "Your name will no longer be Heel catcher, but Israel, governed by God."
1. He had finally surrendered to God, and now he will know true power with God.
2. True power with God comes by surrender to God.
F. As he limped back over the Jabbok in the morning to meet with his family, I can hear Rachel say, "Heel Catcher, what's wrong, why are you limping like that?" and I can hear Jacob, respond, "Don't call me Heel Catcher, call me Governed by God."
H. Later in the morning when Esau came riding up with his four hundred men, they embraced and kissed one another.
I. He now prevailed not by his own wits, but by the power of God.