A Faith Crisis – Genesis 32

 

Along the journey of the Christian life there are points of faith crisis’. There are times when our faith is put to the test. Such a crisis does not make a man, but it shows what a man is really made of. These tests of faith reveal what is in our hearts. It shows how much we really trust God. We have all wrestled between faith and fear. We have all wrestled between our way and God’s way. Jacob was faced with such a crisis of his faith. Though he demonstrated that his faith was weak, God still gave him grace and did not give up on him.

A Revelation (v. 1-2). God opened the eyes of Jacob and allowed him to see angels camped near him. This was to show that God was protecting Jacob. After his confrontation with Laban, Jacob was on his way back to his homeland. Along the way, he saw this camp of angels that were there for his protection. Angelology is a mysterious study. There is a lot of unknown when it comes to the spirit world. One thing is certain: angels are created by God for the purpose of serving Him and bringing Him glory. I do believe that there are angels watching over us. I do believe that every believer has at least one guardian angel who is assigned to watch over us and to protect us from things that we cannot see and to protect us from ourselves. Though much research is needed to confirm such a belief, I do believe that there is enough evidence in scripture to suggest not only that we have guardian angels, but also that there are various ranks of angels watching over different regions and cities of the world. Whatever you may believe concerning angels, it is comforting to know that God is lovingly watching over us.

The Preparation (v. 3-8). As Jacob is approaching his homeland, he realizes that he will undoubtedly meet his brother Esau. The last time Jacob saw Esau, he was seeking to kill Jacob. Messengers are sent to get a sense of the mood of Esau and to let him know that Jacob was coming. The messengers returned with facts that were misinterpreted. The messengers suggest that Esau was on his way to meet Jacob with a four-hundred man army. Jacob then prepares for a possible confrontation. How soon did Jacob forget what he just saw! Angels were camped around him, yet, in the heat of the moment, Jacob took matters in his own hands. This is where Jacob experienced a tremendous faith crisis. He knew the angels of God were there to protect him, but he feared Esau greatly. His fear overtook his faith. How often does that happen with us? Our fear overtakes our faith and instead of trusting in God, we take matters into our own hands.

The Prayer (v. 9-12). As Jacob prepares for what he thinks is a battle, he goes to God in prayer. His prayer reveals the crisis of faith that he is experiencing. He recognizes the fact that he is unworthy to be in God’s presence. He recognizes that he does not deserve God’s protection. This leads to Jacob attempting to remind God of what He had promised to him. Notice the desperation in Jacob’s voice. It was as if he was crying out to God for protection, while at the same time doubted whether or not God could do it. Many times when we pray, we do the same thing. We desperately ask God for help, while our actions reveal a lack of trust.

The Scheme (v. 13-21). Sir Robert Walpole, England’s first prime minister, said of Parliament, “All those men have their price.”[1] There is a lot of truth in that statement. You can convince anyone for the right price. Jacob thought that if he sent gifts to Esau then this would soften Esau’s heart and maybe there could be peace between them. Jacob is going back to his old scheming ways. This is another crisis of faith for Jacob. Instead of trusting in God’s protection, he wants to make sure that everything will be okay by engaging in this scheme. Many times we will pray for God to protect and provide and then after we pray, we take matters into our own hands and completely forget about what we just prayed for.

The Fight (v. 22-32). Forgetting about the angels of God sent to protect him, Jacob divides his family into two camps and sent them across the river. Jacob stayed by himself, and it was in that moment that his crisis of faith came to head. It was during this moment, that Jacob met God and he met himself. God came down to Jacob. As God came to Jacob, the two wrestled. My friend, what a great lesson we learn here! When God comes to us, we most often find ourselves wrestling with him. In our pride and selfishness, we do not want to let God be God and we try to prevail over God by doing things our way. It was in this moment that Jacob met God. “British essayist Walter Savage Landor called solitude “the audience-chamber of God,” and he was right. When we’re alone, we can’t escape into other people’s hearts and minds and be distracted; we have to live with ourselves and face ourselves. Twenty years before, Jacob had met the Lord when he was alone at Bethel; and now God graciously came to him again in his hour of need (vv. 28, 30; Hosea 12:2–6). God meets us at whatever level He finds us in order to lift us to where He wants us to be. To Abraham the pilgrim, God came as a traveler (Gen. 18); and to Joshua the general, He came as a soldier (Josh. 5:13–15). Jacob had spent most of his adult life wrestling with people—Esau, Isaac, Laban, and even his wives—so God came to him as a wrestler.”[2] God has a way of meeting us where we are. He does this because He loves us and cares for us. As Jacob wrestled with God he also met himself. He came to realize how unworthy and sinful he was. But, as God changed Jacob’s name, he was reminded of how God had a plan for him and the he was special in the eyes of God. Sadly, we most often see ourselves for how we see ourselves and not for how God sees us. As believers in Christ, we need to learn to see ourselves as God sees us. We see the sin and shame. We see ourselves as unworthy and undeserving of God’s help. That is why we often try to solve problems on our own rather than trusting in the Lord. However, God sees us as the most beautiful of all of His creation. He sees us as the people He created in His own image and the people that He loves. He sees the blood of Jesus covering our sins and He sees us covered by His own righteousness.

When you are faced with a faith crisis, don’t wrestle with God. See yourself as God sees you and allow God to help you rather than trying to solve things on your own.

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Be authentic (p. 56). Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Be authentic (p. 58). Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.

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