Epistles to the Cyberchurch - Su Min

To: en & more
From: Su Min
Subject: Genesis 32

My dearly beloved,

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen! (Galatians 1:3-5) (NB the terminal passage at the end of today comes from Romans 16: 25-27)

Today we see how Jacob starts off home and is encouraged on his journey by an angelic visitation. Jacob recognises the significance of this and marks the place as Mahaniam (Gen 32: 1-2). Markerpoints in his life.

As Jacob prepares to meet his twin brother Esau, the murderous intent of Esau's anger (Gen 27:41) so many many years ago, still ringing afresh in his ears and mind, no doubt, and Jacob plans great gifts to placate his estranged brother Esau (vs 3-21).

Very noticeable within Jacob's preparation is the spiritual preparation. Perhaps it is the fear and distress as recorded in Gen 32:7 that drives Jacob to God. So often very much is the same for us, that we ignore God while the going is good, ignore him so much that sometimes we need a knock on the head on the head or a dose of fear and distress to drive us to look for God. Why can't we look for God while the going is good? Is it not our own selfish pride and the fact that we want to be lord of our own lives? When we accept the Lordship of Jesus we learn to turn to the Father every day.

Jacob's prayer is a contrite prayer. He recognises the mighty position of God (9a) He recalls God's instruction to return to the promised land and God's promise to make Jacob prosper (9b). He is humble (10). He calls out for salvation (11,12)

What do we do when we are in trouble? Pray. Pray like Jacob prays. I was taught the acronym ACTS as an outline of prayer. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplications. Call on the mighty name of God. We have learned in Genesis the earlier chapters, a long list of many titles we can use to address God El Shaddai and God most High and others. As we go through the rest of the bible we will find more. We can use our tiny finite minds to discover word pictures that honour and praise our mighty God, creator of heaven and earth and all that is in it, and thus should our conversations with God begin. Praise and Adoration.

Then confession. Admit how weak we are when we stand alone, when we try to stand in our own strength. Admit our fears. Admit our distress. Admit the errors of our ways. Admit our sins.

Call upon God's promises. Great and many are they, all recorded in his holy word. As a personal development, collect these promises. Underline them in the bible, and collect the references to these promises in a prominent place: in your diary, on the back page of your bible, or in your electronic computer notebook. These are God's promises to you. And when we pray we can call upon these promises, E.g. Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you, and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Many of our prayer items are well worded in the Psalms. One teacher has said, pray the word of God not the problem!

Another favourite promise

Are you weary? Burdened? Hear this invitation and promise from Jesus, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matt 11:28)"

Then we go into a season of thanksgiving. Can we creatively think of what we can thank God for? Our salvation? His loving kindness. The presence of the holy Spirit. the gift of the word. Our life. Our health. Our friends. Count our blessings, name them one by one!

Then and only then are we ready for supplication, to bring our pleas for intercession for others and our pleas for ourselves. With this structure, our prayers are not like Christmas shopping lists. Indeed, as Jesus taught us to pray, what we ask for ourselves is primarily our daily bread!

Now we are ready for the great wrestling match, where Jacob wrestles with a stranger. The struggle takes all night and reaches an impasse: Jacob will not surrender to the man even though his hip is dislocated (vs 25.) He demands a blessing from this man whom he must have realised must have been a superior being, though not quite realising how superior at first. Then from an answer given in vs 29, we and Jacob deduce that the stranger must be God himself. Jacob declares in wonder that he has been allowed to see God face to face and live to tell the tale (vs 30). Limping away from this blessing we see the paradox of victory in defeat, and winning though submission. The title Israel not only means "He struggles with God" or "God strives" but also, according to my Wycliff commentary, may be associated with the word "sar" meaning prince. And prince indeed he was to be, to give his name to the nation that continues today, in spite of all the odds, by the grace of God, for His chosen people.

Let us close in prayer

Love dad

For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min

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