Friday, December 14, 2007

Jacob and Jesus

I've been preparing diligently for a class I'll be teaching coming up here in January. For lack of more profound prose, I am having a blast!

God is on the move in my own heart and I can't wait to teach this class. I've been listening to a fantastic series from Tim Keller on evangelism and I'd like to share a little gem I wrestled with this morning. I love working through links between the Old Testament and New Testament - especially how the Old Testament stories all have something to do with pointing forward to Jesus.

Genesis 32 tells the story of Jacob wrestling with God. At first he's not sure who it is but when Jacob discovers its God he holds on and will not let go - Jacob has finally found the source of the blessing he's been striving for his entire life. God tells Jacob he needs to go because the sun is coming up. Jacob knows if he doesn't let go soon he will die at sunrise, because everybody knows no one can see God in the light of day without being killed. Jacob clings to God, continues to wrestle with Him, about to be killed willingly, because God is his life and he wants Him more than anything. What does God do? God blesses Jacob, and renames him Israel.

During the match, God touches (that's touches, not punches or kicks) Jacob's hip and blows it out of socket. Jacob realizes there is much more power in the "man" he is in combat with and the man is holding back, and yet Jacob holds on and keeps wrestling. This is amazing because it seems like any reasoning man would let go if he thinks he is about to die, right?

Now here is where this whole story gets really interesting.

Verse 28 says,
Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed."
First off the blessing is wrapped up in Jacob's new name, but look at the reason God provides for giving the blessing - Jacob prevailed over man and God!

Jacob prevailed? God lost? Here is the amazing part. Of course God did not lose. God held back. As Keller says "God feigned weakness". In other words, God faked being weak so that Jacob could get a blessing.

What makes this very significant is that this wrestling match foreshadows what Christ did in his life and death - but there is one major difference that adds perspective to what Christ accomplished.

Philippians 2 talks about Jesus humbling himself by becoming a man, then even more, by dieing cursed on a tree. Furthermore, in all of his other writings, Paul's relates what Jesus did to his own life of suffering and is content with being weak so that God's power can be perfected.

Here's the crest of the wave I've been trying to ride...

In Jesus, God became weak, and died, he held on and suffered all of God's wrath and judgment - all of it. Jacob's hip was disabled but Christ's life was taken, smeared and crushed. God did not pretend with weakness this time. God did not hold back. Jesus became weak so that we can receive a blessing we do not deserve - God's love.


Bumble said...

You should definitely buy the series "The Gospel according to Jacob" by Tim Keller at

Swampy-Rah said...

I like to think of my own hip injury in that context; God touched my hip and re-directed my life, gave me the gift of humility and brings people to me to make His point.

I am soooo taking your class!

Pat Stream said...

bumble - thanks for the visit and the link to the full sermon series.

swampy - it's going to be great, working through this stuff together as I want to hear more about how God has worked in you. I am looking forward to it.