Saturday, August 16, 2008

Enjoying My New Messianic Jewish Bible

Jacob is sixty years old or more. He has just had a huge fight with his father-in-law, Laban. God told Jacob to come home to the Promised Land, and that He, God would be with him. Jacob sneaks off with his wives and possessions, and when Laban catches up with him, he asks, why? Why did you run off with MY daughters, grandchildren, herds, etc.? Why didn’t you ask---why didn’t you say Your God said to leave??

They come to an understanding, swear some oaths, make some promises, and Laban kisses everyone, and says goodbye, and goes back to his country.

Genesis 32:1 Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him. (verse 2) And Jacob said when he saw them, “This is God’s camp.” So he named that place Mahanaim. (verse 3) Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

When Jacob left his brother, his brother was so angry he swore he’d kill him. Now, some twenty years later, he sends word, and gifts, and finds out from his messengers that Esau, his brother, is coming to meet you and four hundred men are with him.

Genesis 32:7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed.

He divides up the people into two companies, and sends them on ahead with instructions. And he prays for God’s help: (verse 9) “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who did tell me to return to my country and to my relatives and I will prosper you.” I am unworthy…

Jacob says he left with just a staff, and on his way out of the country, he had that beautiful dream of angels ascending and descending on a ladder. Now, coming back to the land God promised, he sees a camp of angels. Angels meet him. And tonight he will wrestle with “a man” who turns out to BE GOD HIMSELF, and yet Jacob is afraid of his brother.

Why are we given this story?? Why are we given this passage about a camp of angels?? What were they guarding? What battle in heaven was raging that we are not privy to? Or, was God calling attention to the one Promised to come---from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob has twelve sons, and there is the promise of people as many as the grains of sand.

I believe, that although I am not a Jew that I know of, as a Christian, I am one of those promised grains of sand.

And I hope if/when I see a camp of angels that I do not fear the four-hundred coming with my brother. And I hope that I take God’s promises literally, and trust that He is in control. Trust by faith in Him who knows all about my past failures, present challenges, and future disasters, and sends angels to meet me.

That wrestling all night between God and Jacob: The only words recorded that they exchanged---dwelt with “Let Me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So, (God shaped like a man) asked Jacob his name. And declared: “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but ISRAEL; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked HIM, “please tell me your name.” But, HE said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And HE blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” Genesis 32:31, 32 Now the sun rose upon just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because HE touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.

No healing here. The miracle was seeing angels, wrestling with GOD, talking with GOD, and living to tell the story. Maybe the lesson is also that wrestling with God has consequences.

In the story of Abraham we are given a glimpse of the future of Jesus on the cross, when God tests Abraham and provided the ram at the last second.

In the story of Isaac, we are given promises, family stife, warnings, and trickery.

In the story of Jacob, we are given more promises, tests, prosperity, more trickery, family strife, and the blessing of twelve sons and one daughter. And this entry back into the land with a camp of angels, and a human “army” of 401. And wrestling. And what is Your Name?

Recorded by Moses some 400 years later, these stories probably made Moses wonder. In the time of Moses, the snake on a stake will be the test, another shadow of the cross and test to trust. Trust that God is going to do what He promised.

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