Wresling with God
Min. Calvin Chappell Jr. April15, 2007
Title: “I need a limp” - a life changing limp.
Text: Genies 32:22-32
I have told you we need it but I have not shown you how.
Today I would like to take that one step further and show you how we can get a limp by wrestling with God, then it’s up to you.
Unfortunately too many Christians spend very little time with God, let alone pressing in to God or wouldn’t even think about wrestling with God.
A leadership magazine survey of pastors in the Australia found that the average pastor spent less than ten minutes a day with God. Too many Christians have not learned to press in to have a genuine encounter with God.
Fifteen minutes of prayer may be the maximum they have ever prayed, and the idea wrestling with God, seems impossible to them. I know it is difficult. I like to rise early in the morning to pray. I find that is the best time for me. But the flesh rises up every time. Why not stay in bed a while longer? Its too much effort to pray this morning; its too dark; too cold; and I’m too tired. That flesh continues to rise up. I have to deal with it daily and so will you.
Paul talks about putting to death the old man - and that’s not your father or ladies he’s not talking about your husbands - he’s talking about taking the flesh by the throat and not letting it dictate to you.
This passage talks about him wrestling with a man yet God. This speaks of a Christ - which is the appearance of God in the form of a man. It was actually the pre-incarnate Son of God. He wrestled with God the Son.
Jacob wrestled with God. This was a life changing event. From this time on Jacob was never the same again. He had a new walk, and soon a new name, and a new character.
But before that happen Jacob had to go through stuff first, how many people know before a move of God comes in our lives we have to do some stuff first?
1. Jacob Needed to Face the Past
Jacob had to face the past.
His past had been one of trickery and deceit. In his early life he had sown deceit - tricking his brother Esau out of the Father’s blessing - by deceit. Jacobs’s very name means trickster, supplanter, and deceiver. In those days of course names meant so much more than they do now. Names were often expressions of the person’s character. They were a constant reminder to the person’s family, to his friends and to his colleagues of the type of person he was.
Whenever Jacob’s mother called out his name, she was making a statement about her son. Whenever Esau thought with hatred of his brother who had stolen his birthright and his blessing and then run away to preserve his life, he thought of him not only by the name of a deceiver, but it showed in his character. How many of us know that if we sow deceit, we reap deceit?
In that far away country he fell in love with Rachel, one of Laban’s two daughters. The arrangement was that he would work for seven years and then marry Rachel. But Laban tricked him by substituting his less pretty daughter Leah, and Jacob only found out after the wedding night and the marriage had been consummated.
How many people know that it’s a good idea to check that the person you are marrying is the right one, at least before you take them to bed for the night. JACOB DIDN’T - he was deceived and had to wait another 7 years in order to marry Rachel.
But eventually Jacob decides that he has to go back. So he leaves Laban and takes his two wives, his family and all of his possessions and heads back toward the Promised Land and back Esau whom he had cheated.
If something is stopping you from being what God wants you to be then you have to come back to the right place to deal with it. Often when things have gone wrong, when dreams and visions have not been fulfilled, when sin has entered the picture, or fear or just general slackness, when character has been tainted or hurt has crippled, we often have to go back to where the trouble started and deal with it before God.
Elijah had to do it. Remember the great victory he had
on Mt. Carmel. 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah defeated. He prayed for rain and it came and Ahab took off for Jezebel and Eiljah was supernaturally empowered and ran ahead of the chariot all the way.
Jezebel swears to kill Elijiah. Fear grips Elijiah and he flees. Next thing we find him hiding in a cave depressed and suicidal. How could this be? fear drove him to it - fear held him in the cave - then God spoke to him and what did God tell him to do - "go back the way you’ve came"
Fear of Jezebel held Elijah back. Fear of Esau held Jacob back. Fear has held back so many men and women of God. But that’s not the only thing. Maybe some of you are carrying fears from the past - things that have happened to you that hold you back,
maybe some of you have been badly hurt. Or even abused your father or an authority figure
that you loved. Maybe you have sinned and are still carrying that sin.
Or that habit - whatever it is, God says go back the way you’ve came. Travel those roads again by bringing the light of the Holy Spirit into the sins of the past that you have kept secret, the hurts the rejections, the abuse, the fears, the disappointments.
Have you got the courage to wrestle with God over these issues until their effect is broken, until victory is achieved?
2. God will not let you face the past alone
If you are willing to face these things God will not let you face these things alone.
With Jacob when he made the decision to go back and face the issues with his brother, we read in Gen 32:1 "As Jacob and his household started on their way again, angels of God came to meet him. When Jacob saw them, he exclaimed, ’This is God’s camp!’ so he named the place Mahanaim."
The Hebrew word for "meet" or "met" in some translations is PAGA (paw-gaw), which is meeting of great significance, or an encounter of great purpose.
Unfortunately Jacob didn’t see the great significance of why the angels came. The angels came to comfort him and protect him from his brother Esau. He was going back to confront his past. Jacob knew who they were but missed the fact that they were there for his protection.
Too many times we too can miss the significance of God’s dealings in our lives - maybe through fear like Jacob, maybe through sin, or maybe just by being careless or being slack, or maybe even lack of prayer or discernment to know what God is doing in our lives.
God is doing something in the body of Christ at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church. Don’t let God’s dealings go by you. You are not here by accident, you are here for an encounter of great purpose.
God has sent his angels to care for you today, for the bible says in Heb 1:14, But the angels are only servants. They are spirits sent from God to care for those who will receive salvation.
Don’t miss this significance. They are here to protect you through the whole life changing, and for some even character changing experience.
So instead of seeing God’s protection, he is still scared to death of Esau - so he makes a plan. He selects choice goats, camel’s donkeys and oxen. He was still trying to win his brother over by diplomacy by sending presents and appease his brother like he done all of his life. These habits were ingrown into his very being and character.
Some people would say that Jacob was a counsellor’s nightmare. Nothing could change him, NOTHING, NOTHING BUT A FACE TO FACE ENCOUNTER WITH GOD.
You see Jacob couldn’t do it by his planning and diplomacy anymore. What God had in mind was too big for Jacob. A nation is about to be brought into existence through this man.
Before that can happen the old Jacob had to die, not physically, but spiritually. What we are about to witness is the death of a trickster and a deceiver and the birth of a prince of God.
3. Jacob came to the place of emptying
After making his preparations to meet Esau the next day we take up the Story from verse 22-24.
But during the night Jacob got up and sent his two wives, two concubines, and eleven sons across the Jabbok River. After they were on the other side, he sent over all his possessions. This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until dawn.
The river is the Jabbok River, Jabbok means pouring out - emptying. He sent his wives and family away, and verse 24 says that He was alone. Emptying - you see Jacob realised that his human abilities were not enough - his legendary skills in diplomacy were not going to win the day - his riches could take him some distance, but not far enough - all those things had to be let go - they couldn’t do it anymore.
Jacob had come to the place of self-emptying - a place called Jabbok, where every human resource is given up, so that God can replace them with his resources. Jacob emptied his hands - he gave up trying to wing it - he gave up trying to pretend - now he was ready for a face to face encounter with God. You know many Christians try to wing it. I have tried to do that all my life. I have had pastors say to me they haven’t prepared anything, they’ll just wing it and they just get up in the pulpit on the basis of natural talent rather than the anointing of God.
Too many of us use our brains and talents to get us through rather than the anointing that is upon our lives and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You say, oh Min.Chappell, you can’t be talking about Pentecostals – I am.
Many people who may have the gift of speaking in tongues are not walking in the power of the Spirit. They walk in the power of the flesh. The flesh will fail us every time.
I had preached the other day about holiness and walking in a Spirit filled life. The command is to be "Filled with the Spirit" in Eph 5:18, or in the NLT it reads "Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you". Who knows you can’t fill something that is already full? You see to be filled, this involves a self-emptying. How can you be filled with the Spirit if you are filled with self and self effort?
Let me ask you a question - what are you filled with?
it is a time to die to all these things and seek a genuine encounter with God.
That’s scary. I know by experience what Jacob had to go through. Can you imagine what he went through to empty himself of all the tricks he had learned which helped him cope and get ahead in life. It means giving up all sense of human security. Think of a man who hasn’t had a good relationship with his father - consequently he doesn’t know how to spend quality time with the kids. So he throws himself into his business -hour after hour so that he doesn’t have to relate to his kids.
He’s destroying himself and his kids - but hey that’s the only way he can cope. He’s done OK up until now, but the Holy Ghost is saying, "Jabbok, my son, Jabbok - empty yourself of that so that I can work."
Think of a woman who has been sexually abused as a child. All her life she has carried a hardness toward men which has been her way of coping with what happened to her. Then God comes and says, "abook, my daughter, Jabbok - empty yourself".
She has to give up the one thing that has protected her - the one thing that has helped her to cope - but if she doesn’t, how then can she be ready to wrestle with God.
There is someone else that has grown up in a situation where someone has uttered a curse over you. Maybe it was your Father or Mother or Teacher. My Dad said to me, "You will never amount to anything in life, you will be lucky to be a garbage collector".
Maybe that has happened to you and you shrank back into your shell and became shy, self esteem plummeted, so not to be hurt again. God says to you very gently, Jabbok, my son, Jabbok, my daughter, lose even that". Jacob was incredibly vulnerable. He was stripped of all his supports. Today God is placing his hand on things that you have done to protect yourself; your shyness, your boisterousness, whatever may be, and He says, "Become vulnerable to me, my son, my daughter. Let me pare away the layers that aren’t you, so that the real you can meet me face to face." Christ left heaven to come and die. He was incredibly vulnerable on the cross. He was crucified naked, a few inches from the ground, not 3 metres as some people think.
He showed his love for you by becoming vulnerable - now he asks that you become vulnerable and allow him to strip away any falseness, any self protection, and protection mechanisms, so that He can reach the real you.
4. Jacob was alone with God
In verse 24 we find that Jacob was alone with God. Most of our victories are achieved by being alone with God. That’s why it is so important to schedule regular times with Him.
yet even in a crowd like this you can be alone with God, wrestling in your heat. Many of you are.
I would like to draw out a couple of things from this wrestling match.
Jacob was not more powerful than God, but yet through wrestling with God Jacob came into a place where God would not withhold His blessing. His prayers had power with God. I want that.
Jesus said, "the things that I do, you will do greater things than these". That can and will only be a reality as we learn to have power with God in wrestling prayer.
Secondly the whole experience left Jacob marked for life. You cannot come away from a face to face encounter with God and not be marked. Jacob walked differently from that moment on - you will too!
In some ways, from that moment on, Jacob was almost more vulnerable than a man with two strong legs, but in other ways he was stronger than ever before.
I tell you that if you come face to face with God, it may leave you more vulnerable, all pretences will be stripped away, but you will never be stronger in your life than then.
5. Jacob was left with a limp
I would like to read verse 28: "Your name will no longer be Jacob," the man told him. "It is now Israel, because you have struggled with both God and men and have won."
No longer "Trickster" but have wrestled with God and prevailed. One who has power with God - a prince of God. There has been something incredible happening here - not only is Jacob walking different on the outside but there has been a deep change on the inside. The whole direction of his life is changing - no longer a trickster but a prince of God.
And this became a lifestyle thing. As far as I can see, there was only one more slip-up in his life when he tried to tackle things in his own way and we read in Gen 35:9-10 where God reaffirms His promise and Blessing upon his life.
God appeared to Jacob once again when he arrived at Bethel after travelling from Paddan-aram. God blessed him and said, "Your name is no longer Jacob; you will now be called Israel." Then God said, "I am God Almighty. Multiply and fill the earth! Become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants! And I will pass on to you the land I gave to Abraham and Isaac. Yes, I will give it to you and your descendants."
Things had to change - he was no longer dependant upon his own savvy, but on God, and on his promises. Those changes were life changing. Hebrews 11:21 says, "It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff."
He was still marked, still using his staff because of his limp, as a result of his encounter with God. As he blessed Joseph’s sons his though would have been, "All is possible, because I dared to go face to face with God." The changes were life changing. Now he was ready for his destiny to become a father of a great nation
6. Are you ready for that
Are you ready for that now?
Like Jacob was ready to be emptied, you need to empty yourself before God. Come to Him and say you want to be vulnerable - open to Him. Everything that is not of Him gone - every sin, every habit, every self-protection every coping mechanism - let God go down deep. You’ve heard about dying to self - this is it!
We’re in a crowd, but it is just you and God. We are going face to face today - nothing less. Face to face with Him. We are going to deal with whatever it is in our lives that has stopped us from pressing in the past - laziness, sin, fear the flesh, self protection, habits, impure thoughts and we are going to press in for life changing character changes.
Are you ready?