Dear Visionary Leader:
I heard a story about Mohammad Ali being on an airplane, and the stewardess came through and said, “Sir, buckle your seatbelt. We’re getting ready to take off.” He said, “Superman don’t need no seatbelt.” She said, “Yes, and Superman don’t need no airplane either.” Many of us think that self-sufficiency is a virtue. The truth of the matter is that self-sufficiency is not a virtue, it is a vice.
In Hebrews chapter 11:21, we read, “By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.”
In the previous chapter, we saw Jacob as a conniver. He was a man who was always trying to rig things, to work things to make things work together. However, God has been working on Jacob to make him what He wants him to be. God is working on me that way. God is working on you. God is working on us and will not be finished with us until our total, complete dependency is not on self, but on Him. With God’s help, we are going to become something in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Philippians 1:6 says we read, “Being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
After Jacob did what he did to Esau, he had to flee because Esau had blood in his eyes. Esau, Jacob’s twin brother, who was actually born first, wanted to kill Jacob. Jacob is now on the run from his brother.
Jacob had been out there in the wilderness with a rock for a pillow. He saw a ladder ascending and descending from heaven. He had an experience with God and God spoke to him. A lot of wonderful things had happened to him. But still, for 20 years, he had been in the school of hard knocks. But then he had to get right with Esau because he could not really be right with God until he was right with Esau, his brother, the brother that he connived against, the brother than he tricked, the brother that he cheated. He knew he had to get right with Esau. And, furthermore, he heard that Esau was coming to meet him. And so that’s the situation we are looking at right now. God is going to use all of this situation to cause Jacob to grow and to cease to depend upon himself.
Message Continues In Visionary Coaching
Our Success Comes After Our Surrender
Why would God say that Jacob worshipped leaning upon his staff? The Holy Spirit is not wasting any words. The first principle we are going to learn is: God will protect you, but He will not pamper you.
In Genesis 32:1 we read, “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host [that is, God’s army], and he called the name of that place Mahanaim [which means to host, to host].”
Jacob is fleeing and suddenly he sees some angels. He realizes that for these 20 years in the wilderness and various places, he has had an angel escort. The angels of God had been encamping round about him to protect him. At this point, Jacob is not totally right with God, but the angels are watching and protecting him. We should thank God for the angels that encamp around us to protect us when we don’t deserve it.
I know that I know that God’s angel escort has protected me through life. Jacob must have thought, “Look at that. Why, there are two hosts. There are the host of people that are with me and then there’s the heavenly host encamping all about me.” We all have angels watching over us. Even though God was protecting him, God did not pamper him. God allowed him to go through great need and difficulty.
Esau is coming to where Jacob is. Esau is coming with blood in his eyes. Esau is coming with an army of 400 strong men. Could God have kept Esau from coming against Jacob? God engineered it. God is bringing trouble to Jacob.
In Genesis 31:24, we learn that Jacob had a father-in-law whose name was Laban. Laban wanted to know how to deal with Jacob. We read, “And God came to Laban, the Syrian, in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.” Don’t hurt him and don’t help him. Just let him go. God will let you have your way until you come to the end of yourself. Here is a man in danger, and God is protecting him with angels, but God is not pampering him. God is not removing him from difficulty.
Jacob learns that Esau is coming with 400-armed men. Jacob is out there in the wilderness and his mind begins to work. Jacob begins to plan and scheme. You can see his self-sufficiency.
In Genesis 32:3 we read, “And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau, his brother, into the land of Seir, the country of Edom. And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord, Esau…”
Can you imagine him calling Esau his lord? ” . . .”Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and have stayed there until now: And I have oxen, and asses, and flocks, and menservants, and women servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.” Can you hear his flattering tongue? Can you imagine him calling this brother, whom he had scorned, cheated and connived against? No wonder he says this. He’s coming with 400-armed men.
I want you to notice what else he does. In verses 6 though 8: “And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother, Esau, and he cometh to meet thee, and 400 men with him. Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.” He’s trying to cut his losses right now. He’s dividing things up. First, Jacob used flattery; but, next strategy. Last, he begins to pray. In Genesis 32:9 we read:
And Jacob said, O God, my father Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will dwell, and I will deal well with thee; I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over Jordan; and now I am become two bands [that is, part of my company is on one side and part’s on the other]. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.
Jacob is quoting the promises of God. God said He was going to bless him and protect him. But now he’s saying, “O God, take care of me. I’m in trouble.” It’s not wrong for Jacob to pray. He should have prayed. Yet, prayer was not his first thought. Prayer was his last resort.
After Jacob prayed and returns to public relations. In verss 13-16, we read:
And he lodged that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau, his brother; 200 she-goats, and 20 he-goats, 200 ewes, and 20 rams, 30 milk camels with their colts, 40 cows], and 10 bulls, 20 she-asses, and 10 foals. And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said to his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space between drove and drove.”
Jacob had 580 valuable animals and he divided them up into lots of five, and he says, “Watch this. Go out there. And when Esau comes with these 400 men……” Now remember, he’s got some over here. He has been using flattery. He’s been saying, “My lord, Esau, show me grace.” Now he starts sending gifts.
Here’s a bundle of five. Then he said, “Put a space.” Then, comes another bundle of five gifts. Do you see the mind of this guy? He is smart. He knows how to rig things. He knows how to make things happen.
What he’s trying to do now is to appease his brother because he knows trouble is coming. He is saying, “Lord, I trust you, but…” “Lord, I trust you, but, Lord, I don’t trust You completely. In Genesis 32:20 we read “And ye say moreover, Behold, thy servant, Jacob, is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventures he will accept me.”
Appeasement. Strategy. Flattery. All of these things in his mind is working together. God lets him stew in his own juice. The angels are there. God wants you to grow. God wants to deliver you from self-sufficiency. Our success comes after our surrender.
Our Conquest Comes After Our Chastisement
Our conquest comes after our chastisement. You say, “God will chastise me?” Finally, Jacob is alone. In Genesis 32:24, we read, “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”
God engineered that Jacob was left alone. We have a generation of people who cannot stand solitude, to be alone with God. That’s the reason that people when they walk into a hotel room or a home, they just turn on the television automatically. We don’t want to be alone with God because we cannot look God in the face and cannot look ourselves in the face.
When Jacob is alone he has a confrontation with God Himself. In verse 24: “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” He’s alone in the dark and someone pounces him. Somebody jumps on him and he finds himself in a wrestling match. It was the pre- incarnate Christ. Jesus Christ came to wrestle with Jacob.
Many of us think that Jacob was wrestling with the angel, but that’s not the point. The angel started the fight. The angel is wrestling with Jacob. God is trying to do something with Jacob. God wants to deliver Jacob from his self-sufficiency, and so the Lord gives him in a wrestling match.
All night long they’re wrestling. A mortal man with Almighty God in a wrestling match. Then, when the day is about to break, the angel now does something that’s very significant. In verse 25: “And when he [the angel] saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, and he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go; for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”
They’re wrestling back and forth. Don’t you think that the angel could have thrown Jacob any time he wanted to? The fight was fixed. Had it just been an ordinary angel it would be no wrestling match. However, he is wrestling with the pre-incarnate Christ. All night long he’s wrestling. Finally, it’s as if the Lord says, “I hate to do this to you, Jacob,” but He reaches under the hollow of his thigh and shrivels it up, and Jacob can’t wrestle anymore.
Have you ever watched wrestlers wrestle? Do you know what, what muscle is most important to a wrestler? The thighs; the legs. That’s where his strength is. If you take away his leg, he can’t begin to wrestle. Thus, the angel of the Lord reaches under here and cripples it, so he cannot wrestle anymore. The angel says, “Let me go.” Jacob says, “I’m not letting you go, not until you bless me. I’ll not let you go.” Now if this was the Lord, why did the Lord say, “Let me go?” Because the Lord didn’t want him to let go. You say, “That doesn’t make sense.” Oh, yes, it does.
You study the Bible and you’ll find out that many times God will act as if He wants to get away from us when He wants us to pursue Him with all of our heart. Do you remember on the Road to Emmaus when two disciples were going there after the resurrection, and Jesus appeared in His resurrection body? He’s walking with them, and their hearts are burning within them. Jesus made as if He would go further, and they said, “Oh, no, no, don’t. Spend the night with us here,” and He did
So, the angel says, “Let me go; the day is breaking.” Jacob has come to the end of himself. He has even lost his secret weapon. What was his secret weapon? “If my flattery doesn’t help Esau; if he kills all my people on either side, and I’ve sent him these gifts and they don’t soften him up, if he finally comes, at least I can run. Now, I can’t even run. I don’t have any hope except You, O God, and I will not let You go.”
God has brought this man to the place where he realizes that his only hope is God, not his scheming, but his surrendering; not his bargaining, but his begging. God hurt him, but God, God didn’t harm him.
God loves you too much to leave you self-sufficient. God will protect you, but He will not pamper you. God will hurt you, but He will not harm you. What I’m trying to say is this: that God will protect you. He never takes His eye off of you, but He will not pamper you. “Whom the Lord loves, He chastens.” But God will not harm you. You can trust Him, friend. “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; but afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them that exercise thereby.”
Our Blessing Comes After our Brokenness
Our blessing comes after our brokenness. What was this wrestling match all about? In Genesis 32:27, we read, “And he said unto him [that is, the angel says to Jacob], What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.”
Now the word Jacob itself means supplanter, conniver. However, the name Jacob has been transformed. If your name is Jacob now, it’s an honorable name, because we’re going to see what God has done.
“And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince thou hast power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”
The word, Israel, means prince. And so he says, “You used to be named con artist, but now your name is prince because you have power with God and with men because you prevailed. And Jacob asked him, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou doest ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel; for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. And as he passed over, Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.”
He has had this encounter with God. Now, it’s the sunrise. Jacob still has this limp. He’s halting upon his thigh. What is it? God has broken him because He wants to bless him. Now no longer is he Jacob. He is Israel. He is a prince. The Lord had asked him, “What is your name?” Do you think God didn’t know what his name was? No. God wanted him to admit it. “What is your name?” “Con artist, conniver, schemer.” “Well, Jacob, I’m glad to hear you admit it.”
Did you know that God is going to ask you the same thing? God is going to ask, “What is your name?” And you’re going to have to say, “My name is lazy,” or, “my name is lustful,” or, “my name is doubter,” or, “my name is liar,” or, “my name is selfishness.”
Jacob is crippled that he might be crowned. He is broken that he might be blessed. He goes from a name of shame to the Hall of Fame. The rest of his life he has to walk with a staff. The rest of his life he is leaning upon a staff. When he comes to die, he worshipped, leaning upon his staff, learning to trust in Jesus. Jacob was broken that he might be blessed.
Did you know that God likes broken things? Men throw broken things away, but God never really ever uses anything until He first breaks it. David said in the Psalms, “A broken and a contrite spirit thou wilt not despise, O God.” Most of us are not being used of God because we’ve never been broken. One of these days, if God breaks you and you become broken bread and poured out wine, God can use you.
You may say, “I don’t want to be broken.” Well, there’s a sense in which you don’t have to be broken, if you’ll break yourself. The Bible says, “If we will judge ourselves, we would not be judged.”
In Hebrews 11:24, we read earlier, “By faith Jacob, when he was a-dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning upon his staff.”
Jacob now is an old man and he’s dying, but he is leaning upon his staff. All of his life he has been limping. All of his life he has to have that staff. Even when he’s dying, he’s worshipping God, leaning upon his staff. He was stronger crippled, leaning upon a staff than he ever would have been standing upon his own two feet. When you wrestle with God and prevail, you never walk like you use to walk!
Failure doesn’t need to be final. Here was a man who was a failure, but God took this man Jacob and used him. And if you’ve been a Jacob running from God, conniving, self-sufficient, there is hope for you. If you’re wise, you’ll save yourself a wrestling match and make a full surrender now. If you’ll judge yourself, you won’t have to be judged. If there’s suffering in your life, let it teach you to lean on the Lord Jesus Christ When it is all done and it is all settled, it’s your worship by faith that really matters.
How does God sum up this man’s life? There’s so many episodes in this man’s life, but God just puts it in a pithy little sentence – when he died, he worshipped leaning upon his staff. Jacob was 147 years old when he died. He was weak and he was weary. But he spent his last moments worshipping the Lord. What a way to go!
There is a story of an old hermit, wanting to get right with God. He thought maybe he could get right with God if he would become a hermit, go off and live in a cave. One day, someone came to see the old hermit and said to him, “Are you still wrestling with the devil?” He said, “Not any longer.” He said, “Now, I’m wrestling with God.” The man said, “You are? You don’t hope to win, do you?” He said, “No, I hope to lose.” That’s what I hope for all of us that we will bow before Him and say, “I will not let You go unless you bless me.”
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James. O. Davis
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking