Day 11  Genesis 28:10-22;32:22-32 ... Something Undeserved

In Romans 9, the apostle Paul uses Jacob as an example of God’s grace.  Why would God choose a cheating rascal like Jacob to carry out his plan of building a holy nation?  “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” is God’s answer.  Paul loved the word grace-it means “an undeserved gift”-because he had spent the first part of his life fighting against God’s will, and yet God loved him anyway.

These two scenes show grace at work in the life of Jacob.  At critical moments in Jacob’s life, just as he was about to lose heart, God met him in dramatic personal encounters.

The first time, Jacob was crossing a desert alone as a fugitive.  Having cheated his brother out of the family birthright, he was running away from Esau and his murderous threats.  Yet God came to him with bright promises, not the reproaches he deserved.  Jacob had not sought God; rather, God sought him.  At that tender moment, God confirmed that all the blessings he had promised Abraham would apply to Jacob, the disgraced runaway.

The next encounter occurred several decades later, the night before Jacob was to attempt a reconciliation with Esau.  In the intervening years, he had prospered and had learned many hard lessons, but as he thought about the rendezvous, he trembled in fear.  After pleading with God to keep his promises, he received in response a supernatural encounter as strange as any in the Bible.  Jacob, the grasper, had met a worthy opponent at last: He was wrestling with God himself.  After the strange night, Jacob always walked with a limp, a permanent reminder of the struggle.

Along the way, Jacob picked up a new name, “Israel,” a name that put the final seal of God’s grace on him.  Jacob the cheat became the namesake of God’s chosen people, the “Israelites.”

Point to Ponder: Not many people have such dramatic encounters with God.  How has God met you at a time of need?