It is written in Genesis 28:11, “the sun had set.” Though that is referring only to a geographical fact, yet the sun had indeed set on Jacob’s life, spiritually speaking too. He had been living for the world, and had grabbed and cheated. And yet God met with Jacob in mercy and told him that He had a great purpose for his life. “I am the God of your father Abraham,” God told him, “I will give you and your descendants the land on which you lie. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you” (Gen 28: 13,14). This is called “the blessing of Abraham” (Galatians 3:14). When God called Abraham, He had told him, “I will bless you, and all the families of the earth will be blessed through you” (Gen 12:2, 3). God repeated it here to Jacob. In Galatians 3:14, we are told that this blessing becomes ours, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
What then is the purpose of being filled with the Holy Spirit? It’s certainly not that we might speak in tongues! That’s just one of the gifts that God gives to some of His children. Unfortunately a lot of Christians have made too much of that. But that’s not the main purpose. The main purpose is not even physical healing. Paul was never healed from a “thorn in his flesh”. The primary purpose of the fullness of the Holy Spirit is that God might bless us and thus make us a blessing to every family that we encounter on the face of the earth (Galatians 3:14). When God fills us with the Holy Spirit, we will be a blessing to all people.
No-one will be able to meet us without being blessed in some way! It’s like these heavily-perfumed ladies. You can smell their perfume even when you are a few feet from them! Anywhere they go, people smell their perfume. So will it be with us. If we enter a home we will bless that home, whether we visit it for five minutes or five days. That is “the blessing of Abraham” – rivers of living water flowing with blessing to thirsty people everywhere.
In Genesis 32 we find that, when Jacob heard that Esau was coming, he schemed as to how he could escape. He put the three wives whom he did not like, right up in front. And he put Rachel and himself right at the back – so that even if all the others got killed, he and Rachel would escape! Jacob is still the same old selfish person he always was. It’s a great encouragement for us to see that God picked up such a selfish man and transformed him into an ‘Israel’.
We then read how God met with Jacob, wrestled with him and dislocated his hip. He does drastic things in order to bring us to the place He wants us to be. He broke him and said, “From now on you are going to be a prince of God (Israel)” (Gen 32:28). When could God call him “Israel”? Only after 60 or 70 years of struggling with him and finally dislocating his hip and breaking him thoroughly. Then God says, “Let Me go now”. And at last Jacob says, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.” This man who had spent his life grabbing money, grabbing the birthright, grabbing property, grabbing women and grabbing sheep, now leaves everything and grabs hold of God. He says, as it were, “God, I have lived for money, women, property and many earthly things. But I want You alone now.” God is waiting for that day to come in our lives too. Then He will say to us as He said to Jacob, “You will no longer be called a grabber or a deceiver (Jacob). You will be called a prince of God (Israel) because you have striven with God and have prevailed.
When did Jacob become an overcomer? When his hip was broken. This is a great truth that we see right from the beginning of Scripture: God has to break us before He can empower us. It is the broken man who leans upon his staff like Jacob, who becomes the prince of God, and not the great, mighty ‘Mr. Universe.’ God has to break you, dear brothers and sisters, before He can make you what He wants you to be. And then we read these wonderful words in Genesis 32:31, “Then the sun rose.” Again a geographical fact – but true spiritually in Jacob’s life as well. Twenty years earlier the sun had set on him. Now the sun rose.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon