Many years have passed since Jacob’s struggle with God, becoming Israel. (Crippled but blessed)
Joseph is the youngest of Israel’s sons and is favored by his father.
Joseph’s brothers are jealous and conspire to be rid of him.
Joseph is sold into slavery for a bag of silver.
Into today’s world, slavery still exist (21 million people): servitude, sex trafficking and exploitation (women, children)
How is it this is still happening? Where is God is in all this? Why do bad things happen? God doesn’t want this. Not because you deserve bad things to happen. The reason: sin is in the world, spins out of control. Who can defeat sin?
Bad things do happen and sin appears to win. But that is not the end of the story.
With Joseph, God’s will takes over. God will work. God will win.
Human trafficking is a real problem and we need to take action. It’s everywhere.
Bad things do happen to good people, to the best people, but not because God wants it to happen.
God will be bring good out of evil. We need to be open to see that.
Jacob and Esau are on a collision course to meet (Jacob has been on the run, trying to avoid Esau).
Prior to meeting, an angel comes before Jacob and they wrestle (in this case – is this Jacob wrestling with God?)
Is this God interceding? God allowing Jacob to win so to give the blessing, leading to becoming the heir to God’s promise. Though God allows Jacob to win, he gives Jacob a permanent wound as a reminder from that he wrestled God, struggled against God.
Wrestling with God leaves a mark. If you ask a question, be prepared for God’s answer. Three exchanges:
At daybreak, the man tells Jacob to let him go. Jacob refuses.
The man asks Jacob his name. The man changes Jacob’s name, to Israel.
Jacob asks the man’s name. Upon refusal, he blesses Jacob, then disappears.
Jacob, receiving the blessing, is now changed, and is now ready to meet Esau.
Three take aways:
It is okay to question God. Know that God will answer.
Your identity changes (name is symbolic)
Our God will allow himself to lose if the situation dictates in order to win. Counter-intuitive: this shows God is not like other gods.
From hopelessness, scarcity, with prayer and obedience come abundance from God.
Rebekah gives birth to twins – Esau and Jacob; two nations. Two personalities foretold to be in strife.
Esau gives up his birthright (inheritance of Isaac) to Jacob for food (manipulation by Jacob).
Additional strife: Rebekah favored Jacob. At Isaac’s death, Rebekah directs Jacob to disguise himself as Esau and receives the blessings from Isaac. Jacob then flees, having angered Esau and feared retribution.
Jacob was an ambitious trickster. His actions resulted in long conflict, separation. Esau was a fool, not taking hold of his inheritance, the blessings promised to him.
Esau would hold bitterness.
Reconciliation would be long coming.
Neither realized they were both to be recipients of God’s blessing.
After time, God orchestrates a transformation – Jacob becoming the heir to God’s abundant blessing, His blessing.
A little ambition is good (Jacob)
Don’t underestimate God’s abundance, His ability to bless.
Because of Jesus, we are all heirs to God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, God’s people of Israel. Jesus fulfills the promise.
The conflicts in all the stories, when giving our lives to God, we receive redemption and the blessings of God.
In Jesus, we become heirs to the promise and are reconciled to God and each other
Abraham had received the blessing of his only son.
Unexpected: God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.
Abraham goes through process of sacrificing – obediently.
This is the preview of the sacrifice of Jesus.
Here God spares Isaac, however, God took on the sacrifice.
Difference with Jesus: God never intended for sacrifice of Isaac, but intended for Jesus to be sacrificed. The love for His children, that all sin is put onto to Jesus. Jesus took the punishment for man’s sin and we are redeemed.
As follower’s of Jesus, we are saved and call to live as a living sacrifice, offering ourselves up to God.
Suggestion for reading scripture: 1) Read in context; 2) read as a community – hear different perspective and gain better understanding; 3) When needing understand – go to Jesus. Read scripture of Jesus.