SUNDAY JUNE 21 2020 FATHERS’ DAY
On this Fathers’ day Sunday let us consider some aspects of the ‘father of Israel – Jacob.’ As you may recall, God called Abraham to be the father of a chosen nation and he fathered Isaac through whom the blessing of God would flow, and he, in turn, fathered Jacob who would become the father of the twelve tribes of Israel through his sons. There are two accounts in Jacob’s life that I would like to present today. The first occurs in Genesis 27:18-19. This is the account of Jacob’s tricking his father Isaac into given him the firstborn blessing instead of his brother Esau. We pick up the account as Jacob comes before his blind father disguised as his brother Esau.
“And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, here am I; who are you, my son? And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau, your firstborn; I have done according as you asked me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.”
Before continuing let’s go back to the beginning of Jacob and Esau. We read of their birth to Rebekah, the wife of Isaac, in Genesis 25:22-23.
“And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, ‘Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.’” Even from the womb the twins struggled with each other for pre-eminence, Jacob clutching at the heal of Esau as Esau was delivered first. As they grew Esau eventually sold his birthright to Jacob.
So, here now, is Jacob, coming to his father in the guise of Esau to receive the blessing of the firstborn. The prophecy spoken over their mother while the boys were yet in the womb mentioned that the ‘older’ – Esau, would serve the ‘younger’ – Jacob. He was probably told of this prophecy of the LORD by his mother, for she favoured Jacob more than Esau. In our account here, we see Jacob striving to fulfill the LORD’s prophecy in his own flesh. Instead of waiting for GOD’s timing, Jacob is seen rushing ahead and trying to arrange things to push things along. What I want to focus our attention to is the verbal exchange between father Isaac and son Jacob.
Isaac asks, “Who are you?” Jacob replies, “I am Esau.”
Jacob is striving in the flesh in order to receive the blessing. Because of his fleshy efforts he was never able to ‘walk in the blessing’ until much later. He supplanted his brother Esau, using his own cunning and subterfuge, and thus his name meant, “the one who supplants.”
Now, GOD’s plan was to give the blessing to Jacob rather than Esau, as indicated by the LORD’ prophecy over the pair. However, Jacob is attempting to achieve GOD’s will for his life through his own earthly abilities. Jacob ran ahead of GOD’s timing. And by running ahead he became the supplanter, Jacob. By not confessing his name, he became the very thing his name confessed he was; the supplanter.1
Vows tend to work in much the same way. What we often vow never to become, never to do, in fact push in that very direction. What was it Jesus said? Check out Matthew 5:34-37.
Jacob spent a good part of the following years running away. The unforeseen consequences of his actions as supplanter.
We are led to believe, and rightly so, that he was running away from his brother Esau. However, he was also running from himself, and probably running from GOD. His life became punctuated with many ups-and-downs. Because he began as a deceiver he was himself the victim of deception. He lived a life out from under the covering of the blessing he so desperately wanted. However, upon his return many years later to seek reconciliation with his estranged brother, things changed for him one starry night. It was there and then that Jacob wrestled with a man – GOD. The account is given in Genesis 32:24-32.
“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, ‘Let me go for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he answered. Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob but Israel, because you have struggled with GOD and with humans and have overcome.’ Jacob said, ‘Please, tell me your name.’ But he replied, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw GOD face to face and yet my life was spared.’ The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day, the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.”
A familiar account of Jacob wrestling with the LORD. Jacob would not let go and the two wrestled throughout the night. Jacob refused to let go of GOD. His hip was dislocated as he wrestled with GOD. Understand, we do not earn our blessings, but often there is a cost to a close walk with GOD. Jacob did not earn a blessing by winning a wrestling match. But he demonstrated his desire and determination to enter into an intimate walk with GOD. Perseverance counts in the Kingdom of GOD. Jacob asked for a blessing. He refused to let go until he was blessed of GOD. The LORD asked Jacob, “What is your name?”
Remember he was asked this very question years before by his father, Isaac, and his answer then was a lie. This time he answered truthfully – no subterfuge, no hiding behind a disguise. He stood face to face in the dawn of the light of day, with no hiding in the shadows of a dim room as with Isaac. He answered, “Jacob.” I am the supplanter. A confession of who he really is – bare and wounded before his GOD. And at that moment he ceased to be the supplanter Jacob for GOD changed his name to Israel!
Only when Jacob come as Jacob can he cease to be Jacob but Israel.2 The blessing was now complete. You can never be blessed by coming as what you are not but only as you are. Even when what you are is not what you were meant to be.3
GOD cannot bless a false saint. But, he can bless a real sinner. 4
Come as you are with all your sins, with all your failures, with not pretense, with no false facades. Then you’ll be free, no longer bound to who you were.
Jacob named the place where he wrestled with God Peniel – “the face of GOD.” It was on this ground that Jacob not only wrestled with GOD but he also wrestled with himself. It was here that Jacob came to the ‘end of himself.’ And so it is with us. Hopefully we can all come to that place where all that we have left is to ‘cling to Him’ until we are granted His blessing.
Fathers, can we dare step onto such ground? You see, Jacob went off by himself leaving his wives and family to wait to one side. He went alone onto the ground of Peniel, to the place where he would be face to face with the living GOD. He was determined and serious. He had lived a life of self effort which had brought no blessing to his inner man. He had been enriched by a loving wife and devoted children and yet he felt hollow inside. His past sins gnawed at him. He was estranged from his twin brother whom he had wronged. He determined within himself that at this moment he would make things right between himself and his brother and between himself and his GOD. Regardless of the consequences, he would cling to the LORD until there was atonement in his life. His life! Not our life, or their life but my life. The problems he faced were of his doing, his failure, his greed, his desire for greatness. It was his betrayal of his brother and of his father that hounded his steps. Fathers, we have been placed for a purpose. The LORD has sung over us. He has a great blessing and anointing awaiting each of us. We have run ahead, or lagged behind of all that the LORD would have for us. We may have become supplanters rather than the father of nations, self absorbed within our own wisdom and desires. Come, let us go to Peniel. Let us get serious before the GOD of creation. Most of us are comfortable with giving attention of one hour a week, but how about a challenge. How about a full night of wrestling with the LORD. How about clinging to Him until we see our breakthrough. For myself, I can look back and see the hours and hours spent watching irrelevant sporting events. Well, if there’s one thing I have discovered about our current situation it is I can live without the sports but I most certainly cannot live with Him!
There was another in Scripture whose name was changed by GOD. Saul of Tarsus became Paul the Apostle. He too had his moment on his Peniel ground. He too encountered the LORD face to face. He too realized the futility of his struggle to be acceptable to GOD through his own efforts. Recall his words in Philippians 3:8, “and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and I do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Saul too, came to the end of himself. All his learning, all his misdirected passions where now cast away as so much dung. He came to his Peniel on the road to Damascus and there in the blinding light of Jesus, he wrestled with the glory of The Truth. Stripped of everything he held dear and important, Saul gave up the struggle and in return received the blessing of a changed name. At that moment he became Paul, at that moment he became the Apostle, at that moment he became the writer of most of the New Testament.
Bear with me once more as I include the chorus and last stanza of another song I wrote decades ago. It’s entitled, “It’s More Than A Changed Name,” and it concerns Paul.
Chorus – For it’s more than a changed name
That drives me onward through the rain,
And I may stumble and I may fall,
But I’ll be faithful to the call.
Last stanza – For He changed more than my name,
And with your life He’ll do the same.
Take the water and make it wine;
Come and share this joy of mine as He leads me
Through the rain.
Jacob determined on that night that he would take responsibility for his family’s situation. That he would stand in the gap and wrestle in prayer and praise until the dawn broke and the blessings were released. There is no greater calling in life fathers, no greater service, no greater success than to go to your Peniel and wrestle until the night ends and the dawn breaks. Blessed Fathers’ Day. Amen.
1 Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries day 224.
(inspired by Tony Rossi)
Father God, Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is in them. We love You. We adore You. We worship You with hearts of joy and gladness. Thank You Lord that You rejoice and sing over us with gladness. We are so blessed to know that we are Your children. Hallelujah!
Heavenly Father, today we ask You to bless our earthly fathers for the many times they reflected the love, strength, generosity, wisdom and mercy that You exemplify in Your relationship with us as Your children.
We honour our fathers for the times they put the needs of their children above their own convenience and comfort; for teaching their children to show courage and determination in the face of adversity; for challenging their children to move beyond self-limiting boundaries; and for modeling the qualities of integrity that would mould their children into responsible, principled, caring adults.
Sadly, not all of our fathers lived up to these ideals. Lord, we pray that You give them the grace to acknowledge their mistakes and shortcomings and do better in the future. May they humbly come into Your Presence and receive Your forgiveness and we pray, Lord, that You will help them to become devoted followers of our Lord Jesus Christ. And help us Lord, as their children, to forgive them for the times that they hurt us, or abused us or our mothers, or disappointed us, or angered us, or failed to teach us Your Love. Help us to resist the urge to stay stuck in the past which creates bitterness of heart and soul, instead, help us to move forward with humility and peace of heart knowing that through it all You have been there for us, guiding, helping, saving, delivering and healing – and that in Christ Jesus we can rise above any circumstance great or small. Our identity and self-esteem come from You Lord, not the hurts of our past.
Father, we also ask your blessing on those men who served as father figures in our lives when our biological fathers weren’t able to do so. Thank You so much for that Lord, we really needed it. May the love and selflessness they showed us be returned to them in all their relationships, and help them to know that their influence has changed our lives for the better.
Father, we pray that You give our present and future fathers the guidance they need to raise happy, stable children who love Jesus, who are grounded on our firm foundation, Jesus, our Rock, and who are willing to learn Your Word and Your Ways and to love other people as Jesus did. And Father God, we pray that You will remind these fathers that treating their wives with dignity, compassion and respect is one of the greatest gifts they can give their children.
And Father, You know the challenges that some men are struggling with in their lives, at work, or in the home. We pray Father God that You will help these men to know that they are deeply loved by You and that You offer help, wisdom, strength, guidance, loving care, and solutions to make a way for them to have the Victory no matter how dark or difficult the challenge may appear.
Almighty God, we ask Your generous blessings today and every day on our fathers, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
A poem to ponder ……..
Strength of a Mountain
God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle’s flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it … Dad
– Author Unknown
Here is a prayer Ila gave me to share with each of you.
May we never, never, never sever the Spirit’s silken strand.
That You, our Father up in Heaven hold in your mighty hand.
God, You are always greatest when we are helpless, lost and small.
And no day is unmeetable if on rising, our first thought is to thank You, God for the blessings that Your loving care has brought.
So meet him each morning and go with Him through the day.
Thank Him for His guidance each morning when you pray.
For if you follow faithfully this daily way to pray you will never in this lifetime face another hopeless day.
We all have cares and problems we cannot solve alone,
But always remember if we go to God in Prayer, we are never on our own.
We thank You, Father in Jesus’ name. Amen.