By Colleen M. Donahue

In our last study of Jacob, we followed him from having to flee his home in Canaan to the land of Haran where his mother's relatives lived. He had fled from home to escape the wrath of his brother Esau whom Jacob had tricked out of his birthright. Little did he know that 20 more years would pass before he'd see home again. Jacob worked for his uncle Laban and both men were matched in their deceitfulness of one another. Finally, God calls Jacob to go home to Canaan.

As we study this man's life we are struck most with how sinful and undeserving Jacob is of any favor by God. Yet, from the beginning of his life, God's hand was upon Jacob -- loving him, protecting him, and guiding him even through disciplining times.

Jacob's life comes "close to home" as we see the pride and independence of our own lives and yet are humbled by God's love and grace to us. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

We ended our last study with the scene of Jacob as he wrestled with God Himself. This time alone with God had left Jacob limping, which marked the dislocation of Jacob's natural strength. The wrestling illustrates God's method of dealing with our independent strengths so that we can be strong in the Lord, not in ourselves. This wrestling night for Jacob culminated in a changed name. No longer was he to be "the deceiver" (i.e. Jacob). He had "struggled" with God and prevailed and therefore God gave Jacob a new name -- Israel.

JACOB (Israel) - Part 3-- A Changed Man

Jacob's changed name to Israel marked a new standing with God. Yet it is one thing to gain new spiritual ground and another thing to keep it. No sooner had Jacob dealt with God at Peniel when we see him reverting back to his old conniving self. Thus we see from the Bible records that his new name is not used.

Day 1- Jacob's FIRST FAILURE comes when he looks up the next morning and sees his brother Esau coming with 400 men! Instead of looking up to God for his deliverance, he implements his own plan.
Genesis 33:1-11

Day 2- Many of us are facing something that we dread as well. Mr. F.B.Meyers says..."There are two ways of meeting trouble. The one is the way of the flesh; the other, of the Spirit. The flesh anticipates them with terror; prays in a panic, and then cringes before them..."
Romans 8:5-8

Day 3- The real reason we don't look to God in our troubles and instead implement our own plan is that we don't really believe that He'll act in time to save us. According to these two verses, what is the main reason that God can't do all that he might want to do for us?
Matthew 13:58 / John 12:37

Day 4- God may wait till the last minute to act on our behalf to see if we really trust Him. What can we confidently declare as Moses did when we know our God as his children?
Exodus 14:13-14

Day 5- But...you say..."I don't know HOW to trust God." God has even provided for our inability.
Proverbs 3:5 / Romans 8:26-28

Day 6- Jacob's SECOND FAILURE was in letting his fear of Esau fill his heart so that he resorted to evading and lying to Esau. Although he promises to eventually come to Esau in Seir, he in fact heads to Succoth which is the opposite direction!
Genesis 33:12-17

Day 7- Fear and Faith can never go together. We either believe God or we don't.
Matthew 6:31-32 Philippians 4:6/ I Peter 5:7

Day 8- Whenever we act out of fear we let God know that we really don't believe He's in charge and could help us. As the Apostle Peter was sinking into the sea he cried out in fear. What rebuke did Jesus have for him?
Matthew 14:31

Day 9- What might Jesus say to us when we act from our fears?
Mark 4:40

Day 10- What is in fact promised to all of us who bring our fears to God and let Him act on our behalf?
Psalm 32:10 / 34:22 / 125:1 / Proverbs 29:25 / Isaiah 26:3

And these are only a few of the promises!

Day 11- Jacob's THIRD FAILURE was actually three-fold:
1) He stopped short of his destination.
2) He "pitched his tent before the city" and
3) He bought the land that God wanted to give him had he been patient.
Genesis 33:18-19

Stopping short of our destination and living on the edge of the world is the failure of many Christians today. Once again I quote F.B. Meyers...."Often Christians live on the edge of the world, just on the border. They are far enough away to justify a religious profession, yet near enough to run into it for sweets. They choose their church, their pastimes, their friendships, on the old principle of doing as others do; and of forming good alliances for their children. What is all this but pitching the tent toward Shechem?"

Day 12- What is God's command to us regarding "the world"?
Colossians 3:2 / Titus 2:12 / I John 2:15

Day 13- How does God view the person who is living a "religious life" but still basically a worldly one?
2 Kings 17:15 / James 4:4 / Revelations 3:15

Day 14- What effect did Jacob's failures have upon his family?
Genesis 34:1-29

Day 15- But could all this be Jacob's fault?
Exodus 20:5 / 34:7 / Numbers 14:18

Day 16- The events described in chapter 34 of Genesis are pathetic and appalling. But instead of feeling sorrow for the sins against God, who is Jacob concerned about?
Genesis 34:30

Depending on the version of your Bible, you should be able to count between 4-6 times the pronouns I, me, or my is used!

Day 17- When our lives have drifted from God or they seem in a total mess we may often hear God calling us to "go back".
Revelations 2:4-5

Day 18- God's words to Jacob at this point to "go up to Bethel" was Jacob's call to get back to that place where God had met him years before and where he had been given new spiritual ground.
Genesis 35:1 / Genesis 28:10-19

Day 19- It is a humble thing to go back to first grade when we've been through college. Yet scripture makes it clear that there are many who think they have graduated and are right with God who will spend eternity in hell.
Matthew 25: 41-46

Day 20- What important business did Jacob need to take care of before he could meet God at Bethel?
Genesis 35:2-4

Day 21- Usually the decay of our inner life has meant the growth of some idol in our heart which has taken God's place. It might be a wife, or a career, or making money. ANYTHING that replaces God is an idol and must be buried before we can resume any relationship with Him.
Joshua 24:14-15 / I Samuel 7:3 / I John 5:21

Day 22- It's amazing that despite the way Jacob has been all his life -- crafty and scheming -- God sees his heart and blesses him again.
Genesis 35:9-15

Day 23- It's really the same for us. God doesn't see us as we are but He sees us as we are "in Jesus", perfect and whole.
Romans 5:5-11; 18-19

Day 24- And this is the miracle of the gospel for all who believe.....
Ephesians 2:1-10

Day 25- Jacob's life has been an example of how a man's own natural abilities, strengths, and intelligence have hindered God's will.
I John 2:15-17

Day 26- The Apostle Peter was a man like Jacob with tremendous natural abilities and energies. What was Christ's response to Peter when he stood up to defend the Lord?
Matthew 16:21-23

Day 27- Especially in this century, women and men alike are taught to be assertive and to stand for their rights. Yet, what is Christ's command to those who will love and follow Him?
Matthew 16:24-25

Day 28- From Genesis 37 and on Jacob more or less retires into the background. Prior to this, he was always active, always on-the-go, always with a project, always driven as though he had an engine that wouldn't stop.
Ecclesiastes 2:22-23

Day 29- When Jacob reached Hebron he retired. Sometimes he comes forward to speak or act but only on occasion. His character is now quiet and shines with a true loveliness.
Hebrews 4:9-10

Day 30- "Isaac, (Jacob's father) is a type of Christ; but Jacob is a type of the natural man and must stop his incessant driving. The Isaac side of him -- the spiritual strength --must go on, but the natural strength must come to a halt. Now Jacob is in the background; there is no other place suitable for him. The movement of the flesh has to cease when God has dealt with it." --Watchman Nee

May God help us to be able to say....Galatians 2:20 and John 15:5b.


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