Online Worship for Trinity Fifteen, Sunday September 12, 2021
Sunday, September 12, 2021 Trinity 15
Genesis 32:22-32 NKJV
Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
A cage match in the WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment, is one of the most exhilarating events in pro wrestling. Two competitors square off against each other inside a large steel cage. The only way to get out is to beat your opponent enough so that you can exit the door or climb over the top of the cage. The cage match is not for the faint of heart.
While some may argue that pro wrestling is fake, the steel bars are real, and getting your body thrown into the bars is not very comfortable. Do you think you could survive in a cage match against a professional wrestler? Probably not, I wouldn’t either. What if you could pick one other superstar to fight alongside you in a 2v1? Now you might stand a chance. However, it really depends on who you decide to fight with. You wouldn’t pick another amatuer wrestler like yourself, but you would want to pick out the biggest, meanest, and strongest wrestler you could find. You want someone that can give you the utmost confidence that he can beat your opponent and guarantee your victory and safety.
A physical cage match is most likely not in your future, but a spiritual cage match most definitely is. In fact, you enter a spiritual cage match every single day. Instead of wrestling against a pro wrestler from the WWE, you are wrestling against temptation. Your opponent is the deadly combo of satan, the world, and your flesh. If you attempt to wrestle them on your own, you would have a better chance of beating a professional wrestler in a physical cage match than you would at prevailing against satan, the world, and your flesh. BUT, you have a secret weapon. You get to have God Himself in your corner. Because of that, your victory and safety is guaranteed.
The account of Jacob wrestling with God covered in our text illustrates exactly how you are to get God into your corner.
Jacob’s life up to this point had been nothing short of a rollercoaster. He’d felt highs and lows, success and failure, peace, and fear. Currently, he was facing perhaps his most difficult trial yet -- the reunion with his brother Esau. Sure it had been about twenty years since Jacob had to flee Esau, but hatred is an emotion that can linger and fester for a long time. Jacob had no reason to think Esau had forgiven him, especially when he received a report of Esau coming to meet him with 400 men (Genesis 32:6). To Jacob, this all but confirmed the idea that Esau still wanted his vengeance, and that vengeance may be taken out on Jacob’s family.
Fear consumed Jacob to the extent that he divided his family and all his possessions into two separate groups so that if one got attacked, the other would survive.
To Jacob’s credit, he had learned from his past mistakes. Instead of immediately coming up with some ploy to get himself out of the situation, he went to God in prayer.
(Genesis 32:9-12) 9 Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’: 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. 11 Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. 12 For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’ ”
Jacob recognized the grace that God had shown him over the last 20 years. How He went from having nothing to now having two camps of people and possessions.
Jacob also reminds God that He was the one who commanded Jacob to return to his homeland and that God even promised to bless him. It is on the basis of this promise that Jacob asked for aid and deliverance from the hand of Esau.
A prayer like this makes you think Jacob had finally turned the corner, that he had really figured it out. And yet, the very next thing he did was to put together a “gift package” to send ahead for Esau in an attempt to placate him and turn away his wrath. He had just finished praying, remembering God’s promise to him, and he tried to take matters into his own hands once again. He was too focused on his fear of Esau. To go back to the wrestling analogy, he was so seized with fear concerning his opponent in the opposite corner of the ring that he forgot he had God with him, an unbeatable secret weapon waiting to help him in his own corner. God would make it clear to him what he should be doing instead.
Have you been too focused on your opponent in the opposite corner of the ring of life?
Are you sometimes so focused on whatever obstacle or temptation you are facing that you lose sight of Who is by your side ready to step in and help?
It happens more than you would like to admit doesn’t it? It does for me. There is no one better than Satan at making problems seem bigger than they really are. That is his whole ploy. He wants you to become intimidated by whatever you are facing. He doesn’t want you to remember God is waiting to help you. He wants you to feel like you are the only one who can overcome whatever obstacle is before you. What he wants you to believe is a lie. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10(:13), “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
God has already promised He will never send a temptation that you are unable to handle. How does that work since we too easily fall into temptations? God always offers us His help as the way of escape. He may help us to overcome the temptation entirely or give us the strength to endure it in faith. He may give us that strength us through prayer. - prayer and a trust in Jesus your Savior. He is the escape to any temptation or obstacle you will face in your life. When we stumble and fall it’s because we are weak. Our sinful flesh will refuse to acknowledge Christ as the way to overcome temptation and instead plunge us headfirst into the pool of failure. Our sinful pride wants us to believe that we can handle it alone. Overcoming a temptation isn’t as simple as saying one prayer and calling it good, almost as if it's just a formality. It requires a constant struggle, and it requires you to wrestle with God in faith.
24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
This is the lesson God wanted Jacob to learn. That is why, in the dead of night, God came down and wrestled with Jacob. This is no dream or metaphor, but God took on the form of a man, a stranger to Jacob, to wrestle with him. The Hebrew word that is used here, אבק, means wrestle, but it is similar in meaning to embrace. This was a close and intimate wrestling match between God and Jacob.
How can we be sure this is truly God? Hosea 12:4-5 states, “Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; He wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel,
And there He spoke to us— That is, the Lord God of hosts. The Lord is His memorable name.”
Wrestling with God? Now that’s a match as lopsided as a cage match with you or I and a WWE wrestler! The Lord of Hosts vs a man like Jacob? No contest. But it wasn’t. Jacob wrestled with the Lord until the break of day and he prevailed. It wasn’t because Jacob was stronger than God, but rather because God made Himself equal strength as Jacob. Even when Jacob’s hip was put out of socket, he clung onto his Lord and would not let go until God blessed him.
The distress and fear that had been surrounding Jacob before this fight began is nowhere to be found. It didn’t matter anymore.
Now all that mattered was for Jacob to hold on with dear life to his God and receive a blessing from Him. He recognized what was more important. It wasn’t about the size of the temptation or trial that was awaiting him on the other side of the river, but it was about having God in His corner. It was about being blessed by God in preparation for whatever lay before him. God would help him overcome whatever came to be with Esau.
So long as you are on this earth there will be difficulties and temptations. There will be times where life seems to be too much. Every time, let your answer to these obstacles be to wrestle with God in faith. Place your life in the hands of your Savior who loves you.
His love: deep enough to set aside His glory and become like you to live.
His love: strong enough to carry Himself to the cross, suffer, and die so that you do not have to.
His love: So everlasting that He has promised never to leave you, but to always intercede before the Father on your behalf.
His love: so amazing that He can sympathize with all our weaknesses because He faced every temptation we do without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
You want a secret weapon to aid in the fight against the evil you face? You already have it in the Son of God. You have it every time you go to God in prayer. You have it in the promises of God in Christ. There is no spell or special utterance of words. There is only the love your Savior has for you that will comfort you, strengthen you, and preserve you through all you may face, until He brings you to rest in His heavenly home. Amen.