God cheated! (and still lost?): A sermon on Genesis 32:22-30
God Didn’t Fight Fair! (and still lost!)
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus increase our desire to cling to Jesus and never let go! (Even as we know He won’t let go either!)
- Did God Cheat?
I titled this sermon God didn’t fight fair and still lost, but I was tempted to title it, “God cheated”. Here is why I wanted to say that:
“When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”
We know from later in the passage and from other places in the scripture that the “man” was God. So look at the passage again….
God saw he wasn’t going to win… so he dislocates Jacob’s hip. Hmmm, I wonder if that’s a legitimate technique for the next family fun night?
But there are two huge issues here…
The first – God can chea…err not play fair?
The second—God can lose?
Those things may not make sense…
Until you realize that God’s goal was for Jacob to not only get the blessing, God wanted him to treasure what he gained.
A little background, in case you are not familiar with this man who wrestled with God. From his very birth, he was a didn’t play fair! He took advantage of his brother’s hunger and gained his inheritance. He would later take advantage of his brother’s absence and steal his father’s blessing for the firstborn, effectively taking over the family.
If there was an easy way to get something—he did it. If there was a scam, or a way to deceive someone, he was there.
Another way to say it, Satan knew how to tempt him, and he fell into sin every chance he got.
Most of us don’t have Jacob’s moral fiber, or lack of it. But we cannot say that Satan has no clue about how and when to tempt us. Maybe it is gossip, some nice juicy truth and rumor that makes someone look bad. Maybe it’s not spending time with God, finding your sabbath. Maybe the temptation is revenge and wanting something bad to happen to someone who did you wrong. Or maybe it is lust…
Everybody has their sin, and needs to be confronted with it by God, so that God can bless them, healing them by removing the curses they had earned. For every sin, whether thought, word or deed, earns a curse, a punishment.
Only God can bless us by removing the curse.
And as Jacob finally went home, as he would meet his brother the next day… he needed to be free of his past, the guilt and shame. He needed to find his blessing, and this stranger, he was certain, was the one to give him that blessing.
That’s what happens when we encounter God, we know it, even if we can’t put words to it, or explain the blessing that is to be ours.
- What was different – The Blessing ( why he wanted to know the name
The question that needs to be asked is what changed in Jacob, that would make him so tenacious. Why did he have to receive the blessing?
It had to be the blessing that he expected.
He wanted to know the man’s name to confirm, but God simply blessed him. That blessing confirmed it, for Jacob, now renamed Israel, confessed who the man was…
Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.”
What he expected, he could testify to, a place he encountered God. He experienced being in the presence of God and even could demand a blessing—and received it.
That is what you and I need, to realize the blessing that is ours as we interact with God.
If we only had a place where we could wrestle with God. Where we could question Him, struggle with Him. Where we could recognize His presence and never want to leave it, but stay there until we were sure we were blessed by Him.
Where could there be a place like that? Where is our place where we can wrestle with God, demand a blessing, (hopefully not get a dislocated hip)
Here at the altar rail is a place to do so. A place where His love is, as we take His body, broken so we could be healed, and His blood shed so we could be forgiven.
Where God would remove the burdens we have, the weaknesses, the curses. Even if we can’t explain it, we would know that He is with us. Where we could bring others who need healing as well.
Here is the place that changes life, as God comes to us, and we hold on for the blessing. This is where we know we are loved… and cared for, it is where we find peace. This is where we see God, and live. AMEN