Altar Vision Devotional - Week 7

What is the connection between surrender and mission?

Scripture

22 The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24 Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” 27 So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob. Genesis 32: 22-32

Reflection

Jacob was a man who had been promised greatness even before his birth. However, the events leading to Gen 32:22-32 depict a man who, even though he knew of God’s promises, had not yet surrendered to God.

Jacob had not surrendered to God when he deceived His father for the blessing of the firstborn.

Jacob had not surrendered to God when he worked under laban to win his daugthers in marriage.

Jacob had not surrendered to God when he worked for his uncle Laban’s flocks. Laban, it turns out, may be less deceitful than Jacob - yet God blesses Jacob and prospers him greatly.

Jacob had not yet surrendered to God when he ultimately flees from Laban. Yet, even during the days of his fleeing, first from his brother Esau and then from his uncle Laban (Gen 28-32), God reassures Jacob of both promise and presence, and keeps a watch over him, and yet, Jacob had not yet surrendered to God. Jacob is a man living in fear, self-reliance, and deceitfulness — and in doing so, he has been resisting God.

It is here in Gen 32:22-32, faced with the fearful prospect of meeting his brother again, afraid for his life and the lives of his family members, that Jacob ends up “alone.” In solitude he wrestles with God (even though he does not know that at the beginning), he finally surrenders. In that encounter, Jacob is finally broken, stripped of his false self. In that encounter, he learns to cling to the only one who can truly bless. Reflecting on this incident, the prophet Hosea says “Jacob wept and sought God’s favor” (Hosea 12:4).  In that encounter Jacob is given a new name Israel which signifies a new identity, a new belonging, a new vocation — a new character is being forged through this furnace of transformation. In that encounter, he is blessed — finally ready to participate in God’s mission to bless the world. When Jacob does finally meet his brother Esau, they meet in peace. Until he was touched by God and learned what it means to be surrendered and consecrated to God, Jacob was not ready to enter the promised land. What was true for Jacob and for God’s people in the Bible is true for us — We cannot move forward on mission with God until we have first surrendered to Him.

God is inviting us into a place of encounter with Him, a place of brokenness where we are transformed, renamed, re-formed into His image and incorporated in His mission — blessed to be a blessing to the nations. The 18thC pastor-theologian, Jonathan Edwards writes, “God did not need Jacob’s wrestling with him in order to make him willing to bless him. God was willing before and came to him, with the design to bless him.”[1] When we realize God’s desire and mission to bless His world, we can freely surrender to His gracious rule in our lives. Jonathan Edwards, “The way to obtain a blessing of God is not to let Him go except he bless us” -  (The Blessing of God-Previously unpublished sermons of Jonathan Edwards, ed.) 

Action

Take five minutes in silence and ask the Holy Spirit to show you areas of your life where you are resisting God. 

Prayer

Jesus, your word says that you have made me a new creation. I want to live as a new creation. I know that is a process, but please work more deeply in me so that I can be completely yours. Set me free from fear, distrust of you and selfishness so that I can be fully engaged with your mission.

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