From Ladders to Wrestling: Instructive Examples of Jacob

All knowledge comes from God

Sermon info

As we have studied the life of Abraham,we have learned that the people of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, are common individuals doing uncommonly great things. These individuals are real people, just like you and I. Their story is in this great book for purpose and meaning. It grounds us and gives us direction in 2020.

Setting the Stage

As we have studied the life of Abraham, we learned that the people of the Bible,especially the Old Testament, Scripture unpacks the life of individuals.

These individuals are real people, just like you and I. Their story is in this great book for purpose and meaning. It grounds us and gives us direction 2020.

We did not finish the story of Abraham yet we will come back discussing the riveting encounter of almost sacrificing his own son Isaac.

When we pick up the story we will be at the beginning of Genesis 23 where Sarah dies and Abraham negotiates a burial place for her body.

There is no shortage of flaws in the lives of the people of antiquity. There is no shortage of challenges. These are realistic problems and challenges. They dealt with familial catastrophes, famine, tyranny, war, sickness.

The Old Testament is not a flowery book. This is what makes it interesting. This is what makes it great .Archetypes unpacking the human condition.

This is a characteristic of great literature where the story takes you places that are uncomfortable in humanity.

The reason why we relate to these things is because we realize that life can be uncomfortable and filled with challenges.

Jacob is an interesting character. He’s not the most honest. He Isn’t the brightest individual. You could say he’s persistent and focused.

Jacob is considered the founder of Israel. The word Israel means those who wrestle with God. I would say that every human being is a type of Israel. We all wrestle with the concept of God in our lives.

As human beings we find ourselves wrestling with many things in life. We are faced with decision-making every day. Some of these decisions are greater than others.Some decisions alter the course of our life.

If we are one with God, maybe we could minimize all wrestling or is wrestling good? If our quality of life is based upon happiness, our value system could be too shallow.

Notice in the biblical stories, the goal is not to be happy. It’s almost a depiction of how do we accomplish purpose and meaning through the scars of existence.

Purpose and meaning is a relationship with God that ultimately brings forth a glorification and reflection of God.

It’s the picture of Christ throughout the entire text transcending suffering by connecting with God and helping others.

The characters of the Old Testament are continually tormented by their moral choices. Stories show us how they transcend and move beyond missing the mark.

These characters are continually contending with their futures through spiritual and physical sacrifices.

The world is presented as a moral landscape, not as a place of happiness. We are required to navigate this land. Life is more difficult when we do the wrong things and more purposeful and meaningful when we do right by our God-given calling.Following Archetypes help this process. Ex. Anti-Post Modernism

This world that God gives us is also designed for never-ending growth and maturity.Executing the four C’s. If we stop moving in these areas death begins to move in.

Every day we are faced with the decision, are we going to make things better or worse by our choices today.

As we begin the story of Jacob, his navigation of the moral landscape is skewed more than Abraham and way more from what we know about Noah.

Jacob does some pretty awful things while it seems to take them longer to learn his lessons.

What’s interesting is that from this flawed person comes the 12 tribes of Israel.

This is an observation not a criticism. What this shows us is that through growth and maturity God can use anyone. This shows that there is hope for each one of us.

The Old Testament is filled with people who get angry, who were murderous, who have adulterous relationships, who veer from the spiritual path, who struggle, who find themselves in dire straits, who find themselves wrestling God spiritually,metaphorically and with Jacob even physically.

They do all the terrible things that people do yet God is still with them.

Any story that we encounter whether it be in a book or a movie that features moral striving is always interesting to us. No struggle, no interest.

As humans we look at this in two ways. We say, “we’re glad it’s not us” and criticize pointing out the bad decisions.

Or we say,“only by the grace of God there go I” and can pay attention to how people get through such suffering and struggle storing information to help us if we are faced with the same situation.

We will begin setting the stage in Genesis 23.

Gen. 23:1 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.
Gen. 23:2 And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

This is a difficult time for Abraham.

We then see that Abraham bargains with Ephron of the Hittites. Ephron offers a burial place freely. Abraham makes a generous offer nonetheless.

This is an interesting and consistent depiction of Abraham’s character. When Abraham rescued the king of Sodom’s people and belongings in the war, Abraham would not take any gifts from the king of Sodom.

Abraham has learned to pay attention to doing the right things. In this case he feels it’s his responsibility to make sure he pays for the burial place of his wife.

After the burial, Abraham feels that Isaac needs a wife. Abraham sends his eldest servant to Mesopotamia to find a wife for Isaac.

This girl has to have the same type of belief system that they do about God that God is one unity and not a plurality. Monotheism versus polytheism.

He finds one and insists that she returned with him to the place granted Abraham.

From the river of Egypt to the Euphrates. Not among the Canaanites were considered serious adulterers instead, between Euphrates and Tigris including Chaldea and Abraham’s place of origin.

In comparison to the promised land, Israel is very much the same real estate as today.

Church Quote

"You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey Him."
- A. W. Tozer