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TRUST JESUS TODAY
This story may appeal to young adults and adults, I'm no sure.
He pulled the canvas of the tent shut. Ah! shut off from all the confusing questionings, the murmuring of the women, their fear for the night of Esau and his men. What if they should pounce suddenly at dead of night, with sword in hand to slay every man, woman and child that lay cuddled in the bosom of sleep. Now he was alone...alone with his problem and alone with God! He could meditate, he could pray, he could listen to the voice of Jehovah! It was when he was like this...alone..that God dealt with him.
Jacob stretched out the rumpled locks of hair that fell disorderly across his temples, knitting his brow. What a problem!
Surely, he was reaping the rewards of his deceit! He had played the trickster for years without ever being caught. Now, it seemed his deeds would slap him right in the face. He had sold Esau his soup one day when his brother had been tired with hunting for a valuable bargain...the birthright.
What a fool his brother had been! Now all the inheritance of Isaac, his father, was his. He was head of affairs, and besides, all the old man’s grand possessions of cattle, sheep, goats and land were his also. Jacob was a rich man. he was thrifty. He had made his money double and more, and he could provide well for his large family of twelve sons and a daughter by his two wives, Rachel and Leah and their handmaids.
Perhaps, he had gone too far with his trickery. When Isaac was almost dying, and had called Esau, wanting him to make venison for him from his hunting, Jacob had with the guidance of his mother, fooled the old man, because he could not see..and having covered his arms and neck with goat’s hair, had taken the savory meat into his father...and old Isaac, in innocence blessed him with the blessing of Jehovah and said: “Your brother shall be your servant!” And what a cruel thrust it made on poor Esau’s heart when he, the firstborn, came with venison from the field...presenting the works of his hand! With strong crying and tears he had pleaded that Isaac bless him, but in vain! The blessing had been lost...he had been a moment too late to gain God’s blessing,
For this Esau had vowed with deep hatred,: “Vengeance is mine..I shall kill him on sight!”
Jacob with fear and trembling drew out a scroll to read what God would say to him of comfort in time of distress. It was a scroll that contained the writings of his father.
“God shall strengthen thee in the time of trouble. But put thou thy trust in Him.
alone. There is no confidence in the strength of a man,: for the strength of men will fail, but the strength of the Lord is forever, from generation to generation, even forevermore. This strength have all His people with joy and thanksgiving, and all they who reject the counsels of men, but trust in the name of the Lord. Selah!” And he read: “A man is strong, but when he is made weak by reason of distress, sickness, or by means of men, he is made low and knoweth not what shall befall him, nor how he shall stand before the adversary. Then, he crieth unto the Lord in his affliction and the Lord heareth and the Lord giveth His strength unto him. Thus are the weak made strong and the faint made mighty. It is the Lord that strengtheneth them and not the strength of their own hand. Trust in the Lord!”
When Jacob had closed up the scroll and replaced it, he prayed: “O God, my Deliverer, what shall I do? For surely Esau will take my life this night from me. The fears of Hell are upon me.” And he rose and checked the openings of the tent, and peeped through the front into the night. Yes, Hindah was there keeping watch with the sword. The night fell like a black blanket upon everything without a star or moon overhead. It was a dreadful night!
Yet, fear filled his heart as he went back and blew out the candle and lay on his pillow thinking. He had possessions and goods which he had gained by the cheated inheritance, but now had lost peace in himself. There was no peace, there was no peace...no ceasing from dread..no stopping of the conscience. His mind raced on and on and he could not sleep. He tossed to and fro. Finally, he swore irritably and then cursed himself saying: “I have done wrong!” He sat up. No, he could not sleep.
There was a sudden sound in the tent, which made him jolt around in the direction from which it came.
“What is that? Who is there?” he called. But there was no answer.
The next moment, he knew not what happened. Either he was dragged from the bed of sleep or flung from it...he could not tell...but some violent action brought him in collision with someone in the midst of the tent. He tried to cry out for fear, but his lips were sealed and the sound died in his throat and nothing came. When he struck out, he fought blindly against the unseen opponent. They fought! They fought more after the fashion of a wrestle. Jacob tried to get his head beneath his palms with his arms under the enemy’s armpits. But he was slippery as the oil of olives and quick. His strength seemed more than Jacob had ever come upon. It was a man! Definitely it was a man. Jacob heard that voice, that strong voice of a man, with no shrill sounds of high tones in it.
Jacob felt the strong muscles wrapped around his neck once, and when he bent back his knee and cried out: “Yield now, O man of strength!” but Jacob refused and twisted his ankle and with a mighty shove thrust him away to the other end of the tent. But he struggled to his feet and was at him again. Thus they fought on and on through the night.
Jacob sweated heavily at the temples, and mopping his brow thought it would never end: “My God, my God!” he cried as the sound of one worn in long toil. In the grip of his attacker he was firmly caught and he seemed unable to move even a single fibre of his massive body, so firmly was the hold.
Then the man spoke softly into his ear: “I am a man like unto thee, O son of man. I too know the pangs of suffering...have known what it was to face death...uncertainly and hatred...but have prevailed!
Jacob trembled in his grip and for one moment thought that any moment now he would feel the cold thrust of a steel blade into his side, avowing surely that it was Esau, by his words, for he perceived not the meaning of ‘suffering’ or ‘hatred’ or ‘uncertainty’...taking it to mean the trials of his brother.
He was sure here was a man like himself, one who knew human circumstances to its fullest. The man went on to tell of his experiences...and Jacob knew here was one who could sympathize if he would...but he was not sure that he would. So with a violent effort, he struggled free and fought and wrestled, breathing heavily into his face and arms and chest as he went in combat with him. It seemed an eternity to Jacob as they continued like that hour upon hour through the night. But more and more Jacob was wearing out.
But he would not give up, until the pure grey of light that mingled with darkness crept upon them, slowly at first from the outside untill it filled the tent, and until Jacob could not discern the face of the one with whom he wrestled.
“Aaah!” he cried, with great suddenness he held his thigh. His thigh felt either broken, paralyzed, he knew not what. He could not use it. With a cry of despair, he grappled with the man until he had a steady grasp. And then he thought he would not let him go for a thousand gifts of earthly treasure, no, not for a thousand birthrights So he persisted even then to wrestle with him, despite his leg.
Once again, he was held so that he could barely move and the man once more spoke softly in his ear, “Son of man, you have wrestled in your own strength, you have struggled against the powers of evil trusting in your own ability to overcome, but you cannot prevail in this manner. Trust in the Lord!”
Suddenly, a great stream of faith flooded his whole mortal soul and body, and he tightened his grip. And in his heart he made a desperate cry to Jehovah: “Thou art my strength, for I am weak!”
The sunlight was now peeping in barely through the leaves of trees outside and tiny gleams fell in. It was clearly ‘dawn.’
“Let me go!” cried the man. “Let me go!” But Jacob tightened his grip even more. “Let me go!” cried the man in desperation. “It is the breaking of the day!”
Jacob answered with all the determination in his soul, as if his heart was fixed upon one single object. “I will not let Thee go unless you give me Thy blessing. Give them to me! By faith in my God I demand that thou bless me!” It was almost a cry and at the same time a certain definite command. And at once he questioned him. Certainly, this was not Esau, nor any of his men. Who was it? But the man refused to tell his name, and turned to him instead and told him:
“Thy name is Israel from this day forth, no longer Jacob...for Israel means ‘a prince of God’ I call thee Israel because thou hast had power with God and with men and hast prevailed. Thou art mighty in prayer and faith and dost believe God is answering even now. God is well pleased. I am thy God!”
Jacob at once proceeded to ask again his name, but he refused, saying, “Why seekest thou to know my name? If thou knewest Jehovah, thou shouldest know my name!” and he would not tell him, but blessed him there immediately and left.
In another moment, the tent was flooded with morning light. Jacob sighed.
“God is my strength. Esau is mine..I have won the battle. I fear him no more!” He opened the canvas and looked out and up...up to the heavens. He felt the exhilaration of the morning freshness... the camp was awakening with life; he could hear the chatter of women’s voices and the sound of his children over beyond the brook on the other side, for he had sent them over yesterday. And some of his men were stirring in the tents beside his, some tending the camels...And he thought back on the night.
Surely, it must have been the very Son of God? He had seen God face to face. No man had ever seen God at any time; but he had seen God and was still alive. Surely, surely, it was God made known in human form....the Anointed of God, Messiah...He that was the Promised One..promised to Grandfather Abraham as the Seed through whom all the nations would be blessed, and promised to the Eve, as the Seed that shall bruise the serpent’s head.”
Therefore, Jacob said that he would call the place ‘Peniel’, which meant ‘the face of God,’ for he seen God face to face. And he marvelled, when he remembered his folly...he had prayed and struggled in his own strength and yet he was fighting in a combat he was sure to lose...for his strength was failing, and when the hollow of his thigh was smitten, when there was no human strength left in him, still he had trusted in himself to prevail...until the Son of God touched him...surely, it was the Son of God, for none could have crippled him so severely so that all his strength had left his thigh. What manner of man was this! Surely, One superior in every way!
Jacob limped out of the tent to tell the others. The place would be called Peniel. For he had seen God face to face. Now, he could face Esau without fear!
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