Part Two: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Genesis 32
Why being defeated by God can lead to His blessings
Part Two: Living God’s word –
Applying Genesis 32 to everyday life
On Monday, we started Part One of our Bible Study of Genesis 32, where Jacob wrestles with an angel all night, only to find out that the angel is God.
Jacob, who for all of his life has schemed and been dependent on his wiliness, struggles to relinquish these qualities, which is demonstrated symbolically through his wrestling match with God. However, it is only when Jacob realizes that God is stronger than he is, can he let go of his past and allow God to bless him with a new name “Israel” and the identity and life that he deserves.
Not only reading and studying the Bible is an integral part of every Christian’s God walk; we should also try and apply its messages to our daily life. Luke states aptly in his gospel:
“’Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’”
Luke 11:28 (NRSV)
Now that we understand the message behind Genesis 32, let us explore in Part Two of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study series, how we can learn to let go of qualities, habits, and ways of thinking that aren’t serving us and instead learn to rely on God as our source of strength, salvation, and refuge.
Like Jacob, how can l learn to rely on God in my daily life?
All of us have blemishes and imperfections – after all, we aren’t perfect. They might be small foibles such as being untidy, not being able to align your shirt buttons to its corresponding buttonhole (that’s me) or always forgetting to check whether the stove is off before you run out the door.
Or, they could be more serious character flaws such as pride, selfishness, or an unwillingness to forgive others.
The first few examples are mere eccentricities: They may make our lives a tad more difficult, but they are not a reflection of our moral or spiritual fiber. The latter examples, however, can hold us back spiritually from being able to receive the blessings that God has spoken over our lives.
How? Because they lead us to focus on ourselves and keep our egos and our needs as the motivating force of our lives, instead of fixing our eyes on God and having Him as the nucleus of our existence. We become self-dependent, thinking that we can handle life ourselves, when in reality, we can’t.
This is the lesson that Jacob painfully learned and one that we would do well to keep in mind ourselves.
So, how do let go of those qualities that keep us from having a more intimate relationship with God? What do we have to do to become dependent on Him?
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Learn to trust God every day – not just when you’re in trouble
When we face difficulties, our nature is to try and figure out everything out for ourselves. We lay awake at night tossing and turning, churning out possibilities. Only when we have run out of options, do we turn to God for help.
However, God wants us to rely on Him in our daily life and not just when we’re in trouble. So, whether it’s deciding on what to buy in the supermarket to leaning on Him while you or a family member goes through a serious illness, learn to trust God in the mundane things and the life-changing events of your life.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.”
If you’re going through a difficult period in your life, and you’re struggling with making that leap of faith to trust God, try speaking to Him today about what is on your mind. God will meet you where you are at, and He will help you. All you have to do is seek Him.
“Do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
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God should be your source of strength
Life is tough and there are many hard lessons that we learn from it. Having survived hard times, we tell ourselves that we’re stronger as a result of what we’ve gone through. We wear our experiences like metaphorical medals of valor, grittily proud that we have survived warfare. We take the pain that we endured during those battles, and we tap into it as our source of strength.
However, our real source of strength should be God, not the resilience of our hearts and bodies to take life’s knocks.
“My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73:26 (NRSV)
By relying on God as our source of strength, we are already in His presence when challenges and adversity come. We can take refuge, knowing that we are where we should be – safe in the hands of our Lord who protects us.
“God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.”
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Allow God to change and refine you
It is not an uncommon belief, even amongst Christians, that God punishes us when we do something wrong. That could be farther from the truth. Though we are sinners, God loves us and has forgiven us for all of our transgressions – past, present, and future – through the blood of Jesus Christ.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”
That doesn’t mean that God won’t sometimes allow us to go through seasons of adversity. However, these times are not designed to ruin us, but as in Jacob’s case, it is God’s way of refining us and breaking us free of qualities, habits, and attitudes that are not serving us.
“So that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
Thus, when God allows us to experience difficulties, He does so because He loves us. He wants the best for us and wants us to live the joyful, abundant life He has planned for us. However, He knows that we can only do that when we let go of those things that hold us back. Therefore, allow God to change and refine you, for it comes from a place of love, not wrath.
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What can l do this week to rely on God more?
Here are three things you can do this week to help you to rely on God more:
- Surrender yourself to God
- Give yourself grace in the process
- Seek God in prayer
Let’s look at these three points in some detail.
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Surrender yourself to God
There is a difference in saying to God, “Change me and refine me, Lord!” and actually surrendering yourself fully to Him.
After praying and asking God for help, Jacob still sent Esau a portion of his livestock as a present to appease him. Jacob was able to surrender his possessions, however, he wasn’t able to surrender himself to God and allow Him to do His will in Jacob’s situation.
Open yourself to God during your quiet time, or even when you’re going about your day, and tell Him you are ready to give yourself, your situation, and your family into His loving Hands. Don’t be afraid, for He will make all things come together for your good.
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
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Give yourself grace in the process
Learning to surrender and trust God completely isn’t going to necessarily happen overnight, so don’t give yourself a hard time over it.
Strengthening yourself in the Lord is a gradual thing, and we can be thankful for the grace that He shows us as we become more like Him, from one degree of glory to another. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Therefore, give yourself some grace during the process of completely trusting God. Joyce Meyers, the co-founder of Joyce Meyers Ministries, sums it up so aptly when she says, “I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be.”
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Seek God in prayer
God likes it when we communicate with Him. Whatever is bothering you, whatever you know is weighing you down and preventing you from receiving God’s blessings of a joyful life, know that you can lay it all before Him in prayer.
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Thank God for all the wonderful things He has done for you, and ask Him to show you the areas in your life where you still need to let go of those things that aren’t serving you. God hears your prayers and will always help you because He loves you!
“And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that God is a little old benevolent man who is watching us from the lofty heights of Heaven, just lingering around until we need Him.
However, God is not like that at all. He is Emmanuel – God with us. He is Yahweh – the Great I AM. God wants to not be just on the outskirts of our lives, He wants to be the center of our existence. He is the Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, the One who sees all and knows all.
God wants a relationship with us. He wants the best for us because He loves us. And sometimes, that means He has to refine us by helping us relinquish those things that are damaging us. Instead of wrestling with God to hold onto those things that aren’t serving us, let us start from today to surrender ourselves to God and allow Him to change and refine us. Let us put our trust and confident reliance in God, for He is always good!
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This concludes the second part of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study series on Genesis 32 “Why being defeated by God can lead to His blessings”.
To see Part One of our Bible study of Genesis 32, click here.
If you have enjoyed the series so far, we would love to have you join us on Friday, when l will post the third and final part of our series.
Until then my friends, take care and God bless!
- Bible.org , “Lesson 59: Broken, But Blessed (Genesis 32:22-32).”
- Blue Letter Bible, “Study Guide for Genesis 32.”
- StudyLight.org, “Spurgeon’s Verse Expositions of the Bible – Genesis 32.”