For the past couple of weeks, we have been traveling down A Trail of Grace with Jacob, an Old Testament character, known as The Deceiver. You can read about his experiences here: Conversion Grace and Sufficient Grace
Today, we are going to see Jacob experience Transforming Grace on his journey back to his homeland after having been deceived by his Uncle Laban for twenty years.
Before we start down this trail, let’s talk a little bit about Jacob’s character.
It goes like this:
- Surprise! Surprise! Jacob had his own little game of deception going on.
- He fixed it so that he had the strongest of the flock and Laban had the weaker ones.
- When Laban’s sons realized Jacob’s scam, they told their Dad. Jacob, in essence, says to them, “Your father cheated on me, and now the shoe is on the other foot!”
- Laban is outraged. Just in the nick of time God tells Jacob it is time to return home. So Jacob loaded up the family and headed for Canaan. (Genesis 30: 25-31)
Now, ain’t that something, folks! Jacob had had an out-of-this-world Conversion experience after he had deceived his father into giving him The Blessing that should have been for Esau. God met him at a certain place in the desert, and gave him a dream. Angels were descending up and down the staircase; the Lord himself was at the top of the staircase. Well, it jolted old Jacob, and he accepted the Lord right then and there. (Genesis 28: 20-21)
Yet, there was a flaw in Jacob’s character that had not changed. Hold on to your seat belts and we'll what is about to go down about that flaw a little further down the road. Right now, Jacob had other things on his mind. He knew he had to face Esau, and the words of Esau still rang in his ears from twenty years ago: “One of these days, my father will be dead, and then I’m going to kill you for deceiving him."
So, as Jacob and his entourage moved closer to his home town, fear gripped him, and he put a package deal together for his brother. “I have oxen, asses, flocks, men servants and women servants, and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in your sight.” Genesis 32:5)
What was he trying to do? Buy grace, which cannot be bought. And yet, here is Jacob trying to buy Esau off. But, the night before his meeting with Esau, Jacob has an interesting experience.
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” (Genesis 32:24-30 NIV)
Who was the man that Jacob encountered that night?
- Some scholars say it was an angel sent from God, some say they don’t know.
- But, something happened to him that night.
- Grace came and TRANSFORMED his character flaw of manipulation and deception.
- He left that place that night a new man. His name was even changed.
My friends, from my own experience, I believe that because we are born into a world of sin, we come into this world having weaknesses, aka, character flaws, along with our strengths. Some of those flaws are present because of our genetic inheritance; some are present because of our own personality. This character flaw needs to be purified, refined, and be transformed. And yet, many times we ignore it, and refuse to do anything about it.
I was a people pleaser, along with having a phlegmatic temperament - -the easy going personality type that never rocked the boat. But, just like Jacob, there came a time when God decided it was time to deal with that deep-seated issue in my life. And that is when He took me to the wrestling mat to change that flaw in my character. Oh yes, I had been a Christian many years, but I was not living up to the potential He wanted me to be - -I needed to be transformed.
What about you? Share your Grace Transformation experience in the comments.
Join me next week for the meeting between Jacob and Esau.