This blog entry is about twice the usual length (as is the title). And since it’s very meaningful to me, I hope A Mending Feast readers will read it when they can give it meaningful time.
In a time of prayer at the beginning of the year I felt that 2013 would be a time of seeking for me. And so it has proven thus far. As I mentioned last time, I spent some weeks fasting recently. It came about when I asked some friends to join me in fasting and prayer for a day or two. It was an encouraging time. Then a few days later one of the friends mentioned to me that he had it on his heart to enter into a longer fast. He felt it was an “invitation from the Lord,” and invited me to join him and his wife. I was on. We patterned it after Daniel’s fast—eating no “pleasant food,” eating very simply, and just enough to maintain strength.
I am not trying to draw attention to what we did, and I hope it doesn’t come across that way. But this is a difficult and very critical hour, and I want to encourage us all to be seeking God earnestly. We need Him so desperately, yet we get busy with our earthly lives, and somehow He ends up on the back burner. That’s a mistake always; in this hour it’s a great mistake.
Personally I have lost my appetite for the earthly life. We’re only mortal once, and to waste this brief moment of life on ourselves is the greatest of all loss. Jesus told His disciples many times that those who seek to save their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives for His sake will find them. It’s His invitation to us to walk in the way of the cross with Him—this way of death that He made the way of Life. In my case I don’t know that I have too many grains of sand left in my hourglass, and it’s not very appealing to me to just idle away my precious days enjoying this earthly life and watching the grains of sand run out. I don’t want to waste my life! I am determined to spend my mortal life (the only one I get) on Jesus. So I will continue to take up my cross and follow along with Jesus. He promises me that this is the Way that leads to God. And I want God! And need Him desperately—not just for myself but for others. So my face is set. I am not turning back. I am not giving up.
And during my fast I received a clear confirmation from the Lord that He Himself is saying this very thing to me: that yes, these are difficult days, very difficult. You’re in the midst of troubles… with more and greater on the way. Yet at times it seems like your God has hidden Himself, or is very far away. But don’t give up. Don’t give up.
Here’s how it came to me. I found myself dwelling on the story of Jacob. Jacob, our Bible tells us, was after something even in the womb of his mother. She (Rebecca) would find herself holding her belly alarmed at what was going on—all that kicking and punching. She sought God about it and received a prophetic word (Gen. 25.22). She was about to give birth to twins, and the children were struggling with one another, wrestling in the womb. Seems like they were positioning themselves. Who would be the first out, and get the birthright, the blessing, the inheritance, the double portion? Then when her time came and the firstborn was on his way out, the second son grabbed the firstborn by the heel as if to say, maybe you got out first but this is not over yet. And so this is how he got his name—Jacob—“one who takes by the heel,” that is, “supplanter, conniver.”
Jacob didn’t make it out first, but what he did at birth was prophetic of his whole life. As a young man he schemed to get the birthright from Esau, who, faint with hunger, sold it to him for a bowl of bean stew. Then later when it was time for Isaac to pass on the blessing of the firstborn, Jacob schemed again (with his mother’s help) and deceived his father outright, and obtained the blessing reserved for Esau the firstborn. Esau swore vengeance for this; he would get even someday; he would kill Jacob. So Jacob leaves the land of his fathers for Padan-aram, where later on we find him wrestling continually with Laban, his conniving, deceiving father-in-law. And after toiling many years for a wife and ending up with two wives (actually four) he is on his way back to Canaan the land of his fathers with his family and his flocks and possessions when he hears that his brother Esau is on his way to meet him, and 400 men with him.
Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed… (Gen. 32.7).
And he prays for God’s deliverance.
Oh, God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac… I am not worthy of the least of Thy mercies, and of all the truth (or, faithfulness) which Thou hast shewed unto Thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
Deliver me, I pray Thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him…
Notice that Jacob prays desperately for God’s deliverance, and at the same time comes up with an elaborate scheme to deliver himself from the wrath of his brother Esau. He sends droves of sheep and cattle on before him as a present for Esau. Last of all he sends his family over the brook Jabbok, a tributary of the Jordan.
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day (Gen. 32.24).
It doesn’t surprise us, does it, to find Jacob wrestling again. But this time it was not just the day that broke. By the time this wrestling match was over, by the time the sun arose, Jacob himself was a broken man. He had wrestled with his brother in the womb. All his life he had wrestled with men and circumstances. And now he is wrestling with… he is not sure who he is wrestling with.
And this One says to him, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.”
But Jacob kept saying to Him, “I will not let thee go except Thou bless me.” My, how tenacious this man is. He simply will not give up.
And when the Angel of the Lord saw that He wasn’t getting anywhere with this man, that He prevailed not against him, He touched Jacob in the hollow of his thigh and crippled him. That would put him down on the mat for the count, right?
But no, it was Jacob who won the match! We are told it was Jacob who prevailed, who won (Gen. 32.28). How did he win the match? By being crippled, by being smitten in the place of his greatest strength, by being overcome by God. He asked him, “What is thy name?” Jacob responded—and light dawned—“Jacob.” Ah, my name is Jacob—supplanter, wrestler, conniver, striver! All my life I’ve been striving, conniving…
But God responded, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince thou hast power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”
God gave this man a new name. In the Bible, the name always signifies the nature, the character of a person, his prophetic destiny. And so Jacob was as it were a new man now, a new creation. Now he in turn asks a question. “Tell me, I pray Thee, Thy name.” But He answers, “Wherefore dost thou ask after My name?” In other words, I think, Jacob, you know that now.
And He blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of that place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
But from that day on this man limped. He couldn’t even worship without leaning on his staff (Heb. 11.21).
Now… I said all that to say this. I was finding my time of fasting very difficult. I don’t know that I’ve had a more difficult time—not the fasting itself so much as, oh, it was so hard to get through to God in prayer. And you start to get thoughts like… maybe I just don’t have what it takes. Maybe I should just call it quits. But as I dwelt on Jacob’s experiences, I went to a passage in Hosea I’ve never really understood. I thought I’d just read it over anyway. Suddenly it came clear to me. Hosea says this:
The LORD hath a controversy with Judah, and will punish (that is, visit) Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will He recompense him.
Hosea is talking here of the divided kingdom of Judah and Israel, both of which had gone into great apostasy at the time. And he warns them that God will deal with them according to their ways. But suddenly right in the middle of this frightening pronouncement Hosea sets forth a great hope for these wayward disobedient people. How does he do it? He reminds them of their father Jacob.
He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength (or, in his manhood) he had power with (or, strove with) God:
Yea, he had power over (or, contended with) the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto Him: he found Him in Bethel, and there He spake with us;
Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is His memorial (Hos. 12.2-5).
Suddenly I realized that Hosea, while making no excuse for Jacob’s conniving ways… he is speaking very positively about this man. There is something about this man, this supplanter, this striver, this wrestler, that God greatly loves. For this is a man who sought God tenaciously, continually. From the very womb he wanted God… and just would not give up. Oh how that blesses the heart of God to see someone like that! He loved Jacob!
But now in the next verse Hosea comes to his punch line:
Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.
And–this is what I said at the start–I heard Him speaking to me! Wait on thy God continually! Don’t quit! Don’t give up!
Do we not hear him speaking to us, fellow Christian? “There He spake with us.” God, in the story of Jacob, is speaking to us, to you, to me. And is saying… “Don’t give up!” It’s a word we deeply need to hear in this hour when, just as in Hosea’s day and the people of God back then, the same thing applies to “the church,” the people of God in this day. We are in a state of frightening apostasy, and God is surely going to visit us for our ways. It’s a grievous time, and many are wondering if there is any hope. God says yes, there is hope! God says, turn thou to thy God! There is hope! Is there someone in your life who needs mercy? A situation that calls for judgment (for justice)? Keep mercy and judgment! (Remembering that he shall have judgment without mercy who has shown no mercy, and that mercy rejoiceth over judgment, James 2.13.) And seek Me, God urges, wait on Me continually the way your father Jacob did. Don’t quit on Me! Don’t give up! You will not be disappointed! You will be rewarded! And so wait on Me expectantly! Remember My Name—that I am the LORD of hosts, the LORD of all the resources and hosts of Heaven; I lack nothing you need in any situation you face, regardless of how dark or difficult the day!
It’s a word of tremendous encouragement for this our day. It may be a day of great apostasy and great distress, and at times it’s hard to lay hold of God. But God will hear the cry of those who turn to Him and wait on Him. Continually. He will not disappoint them.
…But now my own punch line—and this is the thing that broke me up when I realized the longing in my own heart. Jacob had cried out, “I will not let You go unless you bless me!” Was he thinking in terms of the prayers he desperately wanted answered? No doubt he was, he was in great distress and desperately needed answer to prayer. But was there Something Else in that cry, something that he longed for all through the years of his toil and troubles and that now welled up in him and would not be turned away? “I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me,” he cried, the tears streaming down his cheeks. And yes, at long last, God answered this Jacob He loved so much. And he ended up with far more than answered prayer, wonderful as that is. Jacob ended up with… God Himself.
That’s the Blessing he received at Peniel. God Himself.
And so with us, beloved. Does it seem God is delaying answering your prayers, and mine? Oh how I anguish at times over unanswered prayer. But God is going to answer our prayers, beloved. Your prayers. My prayers. But when He does… we are going to end up with not just answered prayer. We are going to end up with… God. As you and I continue our asking, our seeking, our knocking, our wrestling, our striving… as we persevere and don’t give up, we are going to end up with… God Himself.
I realize we have Him now. But so did Jacob before Peniel. God had promised him way back at Bethel that He would not leave him till He had done what He had spoken to him of (Gen. 28.15). But somehow all through the years there was still Something missing, and it was not till Peniel that he found that Something. At Peniel he met this God who had been with him all through the years face to face. And as he passed over Peniel the sun rose upon him. It was a new day for this new man. And he walked into it halting (limping) on this thigh. He walked differently now.
I think we scarcely comprehend what this means to any great extent yet. But we are going to discover what it means in our own Peniel, and as a result of the wrestling and crippling of the cross we too are going to walk differently… are going to walk with God Himself in a Pathway more wondrous and beautiful than anything we could ever dream or imagine.
More next time.
I am so glad that God is in the name changing business because nothing is too difficult for him.
He gives us a new name, a new nature, I have despaired in the past of who I am, I have been a hot head at times and I got discouraged of repenting all the time but I do like the bible says and I agree with my adversary quickly. I say yes I know who I am but more importantly I know who my Saviour is and he has given me a new name.
I’ve said before to myself that I will never change but God will change us all for he is coming back for a glorious church, for by grace are ye saved…
Very encouraging word Allan. I wait with anticipation on Him.
Amen, Alden, that’s just the feeling I had too. We come to those times when we’re about ready to despair, we’re ready to throw in the towel, and our Savioiur is right there telling us, “I’m not quitting on you yet! Don’t you quit either!”
“This is the generation of them that that SEEK HIM, that seek thy face- , O JACOB,-” I can’t help but feel that David was reflecting on Peniel(the face of God) when he wrote this psalm 24:6- referring to God as “Jacob”.- Yes- Jacob did prevail– God saw to that– He takes our name- our sin -our state- our nature- as “HIS VERY OWN”—He took the problem and overcame!!! Lord Jesus Help us all to SEE this in a deeper more real way —
Hi Robert, I’ve wondered about that verse a lot too. But it starts to make sense when you translate it, “This is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek Thy Face, O Supplanter.” The definition of “supplanter” is “to take the place of and serve as a substitute for, especially by reason of superior excellence or power.” Jacob got his name at birth because he tried to “supplant” Esau– he took him by the heel in an effort to supplant him and take his place and become the firstborn himself. He didn’t quite achieve his goal then, but later on he did in fact supplant Esau, and by guile obtained the birthright and the blessing.
And so here in Psalm 26 we discover that God is the ultimate Jacob– the ultimate Supplanter. In Christ on the Cross He supplanted us, that is, He took our place, served as our substitute, and by reason of superior power and excellence prevailed over our state, our nature– our Old Man and our sin! And overcame it all! He took on our name that we might take on His!
And what is His Name? I know you love the old hymns, so you’ll likely recall Charles Wesley’s old hymn, Wrestling Jacob:
Come O Thou traveller unknown,
Whom still I hold, but cannot see!
My company before is gone,
And I am left alone with Thee;
With Thee all night I mean to stay,
And wrestle till the break of day.
I need not tell Thee who I am:
My misery and sin declare;
Thyself hast called me by my name,
Look on Thy hands, and read it there;
But who, I ask Thee, who art Thou?
Tell me Thy name, and tell me now.
In vain Thou strugglest to get free,
I never will unloose my hold!
Art Thou the Man that died for me?
The secret of Thy love unfold;
Wrestling, I will not let Thee go,
Till I Thy name, thy nature know.
…It’s a beautiful hymn, and a long one. Many many verses, and I won’t quote them all.
But Wesley comes to this:
‘Tis love! ’tis love! Thou diedst for me!
I hear Thy whisper in my heart;
The morning breaks, the shadows flee!
Pure, universal love Thou art:
To me, to all, Thy mercies move,
Thy nature and Thy name is Love.
And then the last verse:
Lame as I am I take the prey;
Hell, earth, and sin, with ease o’ercome,
I leap for joy, pursue my way,
And, as a bounding hart, fly home,
Through all eternity to prove
Thy Nature and Thy Name is love.
Amen, eh, Robert? (I know you love the old hymns.) Jacob saw the face of God at Peniel, and his name was changed. And I think you’re right: this is what David had in mind when he wrote of the generation of them that “seek Thy face, O Jacob.” So let us be numbered among this generation that will not give up till we have seen the face of our Supplanter in “a deeper more real way,” as you said, and we too are changed “into the same image.” He took our name and nature, became sin for us, shame for us, not His own, but ours– OUR sin, our shame– that we might take His Name and nature: Righteousness. LOVE.
…I can’t seem to quit here. It comes to me… what an awesome awesome mystery– and revelation! I see a Man on the cross! It’s… ME! It was I who died on Calvary! You! JACOB!
Here’s a comment from Frank Baynes that was posted on A Time To Dance. I thought I’d move it here:
How blest to know that,though miles apart,we are on the same page in the Lord. Over the last few weeks while in southern Arizona and now in Nicaragua the Lord has been drilling in me so much of the transfer from Jacob to Israel..that rich portion of scripture from Genesis and then to have a treasury by F.B.Meyer entitled Israel,A Prince with God..Experiencing much of the Jacob wrestling and sensing the great release that comes with the clinging unto the Angel the Son of Man. Just a wee portion here….”Then Jacob went from resisting to clinging. As the day broke, the Angel would be gone; but He could not, because Jacob clung to Him with the death grip…..He abandoned the posture of defence and resistance; and fastened himself on to the Angel__as a terrified child clasps his arms around its father’s neck. That is a glad moment in the history of the human spirit, when it throws its arms around the risen Saviour; and hangs on Him, and will not let Him go….It is the attitude of blessing…it is the posture of power. It is the sublime condition in which Christ will whisper His own new name, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it……Have you abandoned the art of self-defence for the artlessness of clinging trust?
And my reply to Frank:
Hi Frank, thanks for dropping in! And for the witness; it’s reassuring to know that God is speaking to many of us about this transformation from Jacob to Israel. The apostle Paul teaches that the true Israel is actually “the new creation” (Gal. 6.15,16). I’m very excited about this and hope to explore it further in subseqent blog entries. And thanks for that portion from F.B. Meyer.
I would like to share with your readers the personal confirmations that the Lord has been giving us in regards to what we believe Lord is saying to His Church in this hour. The Church of Jesus Christ is on the very cusp of a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit and Satan is very aware of it. Our enemy the Dragon is out to devour this visitation in its most infantile state or expression, and to bring its testimony to naught. He is too smart to let it get strength in its legs and arms. Devour it, stop it, immediately!
Hence any that attempt to fast and pray or gather together for true fellowship to encourage one another are immediately attacked, and discouragement and despair are dispensed full throttle.
It was in a battle with this temptation to be discouraged and to slip into despair that the Lord spoke to me this last week and in that still small voice said “Don’t Quit.” By the Grace of God I was able to hear it and receive it and let the ‘built in’ faith have full acceptance in me. While on the phone with you last week, I shared with you what God had spoke to me and you responded excitedly, “Wait til you read my Blog tomorrow, I am writing on that very subject.” Needless to say we were both greatly encouraged.
But there’s more! Sometime during last night I was having trouble breathing in bed so I got up to sit on the couch and I got an email from YouTube. Me and YouTube don’t have a deep relationship but somehow it knows what to send me. The email went like this…Just for you from YouTube: Weekly update. We think you would like ….. “I Don’t Know How to Go On.” With a title like that I was not about to go back to sleep without listening to it. It’s a wonderfully anointed sermon about 40 minutes long from a man who has known many a mountain top experience and knows the floor of the Valley just as well. I have posted the YouTube link for anybody who wants Holy Ghost council for the battle that we must go through if we’re to come out victorious on the other side.
This is not part of the sermon, not that I remember anyway, but there are three ingredients that are required to be an Overcomer. 1st. The Blood of the Lamb; 2nd., we must have a testimony; 3rd. We must love not our lives even unto death. Our enemy can’t do anything about the Blood but if we are not careful he can destroy our Faith (our Testimony) and bring us to a place of discouragement where we have no strength to love not our lives unto death.
God Bless All,
You Tube Link:
Hi Terry, I’ve listened to this message and highly recommend it. And it’s something to think about, isn’t it, that you would get an email from a computer program in the middle of the night saying it thinks you would like this message!
Add that to the other comfirmations God has been giving, and… is He trying to tell us something? 🙂
Like, maybe… DON’T QUIT. Keep pursuing ardently!
And for two reasons, as you pointed out:
1. The temptation to quit is there these days.
2. Great and mighty things are ahead; as you persevere you are going to be part of them!
I read your response, Robert, about Psalm 24:6, and I was going to correct you because I thought it meant, “God of Jacob.” But as I meditated on what you said, now I believe you are right.
The word was made flesh and how much more fleshy could you get than Jacob (supplanter, heal grabber). It’s humbling to think how He humbled Himself to do this.
So, thank you, Robert.
It’s been quite awhile since I was last up here. Hope all is well with you. Terry Conroy was telling me about this particular blog today. So here I am. Very good and encouraging. Yes the darkness and the attacks of the enemy are increasing daily, and the presence of the Lord seems so far away. “I miss you Lord,” I said to Him the other day.
He is working in the midst of it all! The word is dry, and prayer seems without much life. Yet we press on. I don’t really have a lot to say except that I had this thought and declaration. I hope and trust that it will encourage everyone: I will NOT let you go, Lord. Till I know you, as you know me. Till I know you, as you know me.
Lord Bless and keep you,
Hi, Paul. Thanks for the visit! Nice to see you! I am blessed by what you have shared; it really ministered to me. “I will NOT let you go Lord. Till I know you as you know me.” It IS encouraging, as you hoped it would be. This is the kind of commitment and testimony that blesses others. We say it to the Lord, but it blesses others. It ministers life to others when we are making this kind of earnest and determined commitment.
And it came to me as I read your words, Paul, that, considering the hard time we are in, we need to be saying this not only to the Lord, but to one another. “I know you’re having a very hard time, brother or sister. But I will NOT let you go till you are blessed.”
I rejoice in the Lord that others are encouraged. Keep Pressing on my Brothers and sisters in the Lord. I went to a prayer meeting Friday evening. Tired weary and worn out. Had been with other members of the body in which was no life. After a short time of prayer and some worship and song, I felt strengthened with might in the inner man, though my body still feels like it has been run over by a truck.
I found myself able to pray and hopefully be an encouragement to the body of Christ. Was a little bit more focused and strengthened to press on again. Thankyou Lord Jesus for your body! Thankyou for your Great Mercy!
We need the body of Christ, We need the strength of the fellowship that our Lord Jesus imparts to each and everyone of us His members. For the encouragement and edification of the body. Paul spoke of such a brother:
Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.
And also: For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.
We need to gather often, with like minded brethern and sistern.
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Rom_14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
Rom_15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
Heb_3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Heb_10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
You get the picture. The enemy of our souls is in divide and conquer mode. Trying to bring distraction anyway he can. Of course as we draw near to God and keep in fellowship with one another, it is he who is and will be defeated. The last few mornings I awake with the thought I believe Brother Frank Laubach said: That he wouldn’t get out of bed till he focused his being and thoughts upon the living Christ within. Once establishing this, he would begin his Day.
And though at the moment the focus is not yet complete, still We will PRESS ON!and in fellowship with the Body of Christ. Till That LIVING Presence of Christ pervades every part of our lives, spirit,soul and body. Then permeates the body, and then the whole of creation.
Come Lord Jesus and take your Place.
In closing a song comes to mind that I’d like to share the words of. Sorry don’t have the tune for you. It goes like this:
Jesus we enthrone you,we proclaim You as King,
standing there in the midst of us,
We lift you up with our praise.
And as we worship build Your throne,
And as we worship build Your throne
And as we worship build Your throne,
Come Lord Jesus and take Your Place.
May He be Blessed forever more.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Hi, Paul, thanks for this very edifying word! We are in a time when we very deeply need the refreshing and strengthening that is ministered through others in the body of Christ. I was thinking earlier today of this message– The Man Who Would Not Let Go Of God– and it came on my heart to pray, Lord, sometimes what I need to know is that YOU are not going to let go of ME.
But I think the way the Lord shows us that He never will do that, never will let go of us… is through others in the body of Christ, by the revelation of His love in the body of Christ. I think we are there, Paul. It’s becoming a very difficult hour, and I think we’re going to discover more and more our need for one another, that is, for the love of God being “poured out in OUR hearts through the Holy Spirit that is given to us.”