THE GOD OF JACOB:
We live in troubled and fearful times. We are in a deep recession characterized by significant losses in retirement funds, unemployment, home foreclosures, corporate bailouts, bankruptcy and buy outs.
We all try to cope with our sense of fear in different ways. Some have turned to addictions such as, alcohol, pornography, and prescription drugs. Still others are feeding their anxiety with comfort foods, or we anestheticize our pain through more acceptable addictions like, work, TV, internet games, shopping, anger and controlling others. For many, our health is being affected with high blood pressure, ulcers, pulmonary problems and the list goes on.
So, where do we turn to find peace and protection in these troubled times? Psalm 46 says that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. The psalmist urges believers to cease striving and know God. What he is saying is that we are to turn to God when faced with fearful times! So who is this God that we are to know? He is the God of Jacob. He is a God of covenant who has given us many promises of His presence and protection.
Jacob finds himself filled with distress and fear in Gen. 32:7. He is in a crisis of faith. One that, he cannot escape from. For the first time in his life he cries out to the LORD. Jacob has had two previous bouts with fear in the past twenty years of his life. In the first bout, Jacob is fleeing Esau, his brother; for fear that he will kill Jacob for cheating him out of his blessing. In the second, Jacob is fleeing Laban, his father-in-law for fear that he will take his flocks, and not let Jacob return home with his wives and children (Laban’s daughters and grandchildren).
On both occasions, the LORD meets with Jacob. In the first, the LORD establishes His covenant with Jacob as He flees Esau and journeys to Paddan-aram. He Identifies Himself as the God of Jacob’s fathers, Abraham and Isaac. He renews with Jacob the covenant He made with his fathers. And then, He promises to be with Jacob, watch over him and bring him back to the land. On the second occasion, the LORD meets with Jacob after he has worked for his father-in-law for forty years. He tells Jacob to return to home and assures him that He has blessed him with the flocks he now possesses.The LORD intervenes to protect Jacob by warning Laban not to harm him.
Jacob is now filled with fear and distress as he will face his brother and 300 of his men in the next day. There is no fleeing in this moment. For the first time He cries out to the LORD. Within his prayer, he identifies his God as the God of his fathers and the One who told him to return. He acknowledges the kindness and faithfulness of God as he recognizes that he left with nothing and now is returning with flocks and a family. Jacob makes a simple request, “Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother.” Finally, he reminds the LORD of His covenant promise of twenty-five years prior. Through the night Jacob wrestles with God and even prevails until God pulls his hip out of socket. In the next day, Jacob reunites with Esau and Esau does not harm him, but actually embraces and welcomes his younger brother.
The psalmist says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” He is calling us to stop looking towards our coping mechanisms to take away the pain of our fears and to turn to the God of Jacob. Jacob’s God is a God of covenant. Jacob’s God is present with us and assumes responsibility to protect us.
We have a choice today. Will we continue to live in fear and try to anestheticize our pain in some way or will we STOP and BE STILL. Will we turn to the LORD and meditate on Him and His promises to us? Our God is a very present help in these troubled times! (back to 'Weekly Blog' page)