March 10, 2010

Contend Earnestly For The Faith

Genesis 32:24-29
And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the day has broken." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." And he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And there he blessed him.

The angel in this Scripture is in actuality, the Angel of the Lord who is God. A preincarnate appearance or theophany of Jesus Christ. This is confirmed by Scripture also...

Hosea 12:4
He strove with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor. He met God at Bethel, and there God spoke with us-the LORD, the God of hosts, the LORD is his memorial name: "So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice,and wait continually for your God."

So what is the passage in Genesis telling us and Hosea reaffirming? We are to strive tenaciously with God. We are to continually petition Him. Why? One, it shows a lively faith that is demonstrating perseverance which brings God's favor. What else does it show? That eventually man needs to yield to God not the other way around. Trust me on this one, the Lord had the ability to end this any time He pleased but it pleased Him more to see Jacob "strive" or dedicate serious effort or energy to it. Why? Because it glorifies God to show a man that has such a firm and tenacious faith in God that he is willing to go to the "n"th degree to garner His blessing. This shows a tremendous amount of spirit working in Jacob.

What else does it show? It shows that no one walks away from an encounter with the Living God without being permanently changed. In Jacobs case it was is hip joint maimed and his name (and identity). Jacob wrestled with everything he had in the gas tank but it took only a touch from God to permanently change Jacob for the remainder of his physical life. A little reminder of how powerful the Almighty is.

There is nothing quite like the appreciation of something that toiling instills in a person. I imagine this is intentional. We need to work towards things to understand this too. Gaining something through toiling teaches us to persevere. Sometimes through pain it teaches us also. Sometimes we need to get hurt to remember because some of us are a little thick-headed. Ironically, God has already put it within us to do what we do. It is not us but Christ that works in us. We need to work it out with fear and trembling before the Lord. God works through our hard work. He works through our suffering to make us more like Him. Through our suffering we are brought more in line with the mind of Christ.

Philippians 2:12 out your own salvation with fear and trembling

I wasn't turning over any new stones on this post. I was just stating what would've been obvious to all that content earnestly for the faith everyday. Although some have to strive harder because their obstacles are more pronounced we all strive just the same. The more we do so the better our chances of getting things right. If we are busy trying to win God's favor, trying to be more holy and walking in the ways of the righteous...we have less time to pursue the evil of the world.

Please don't get me wrong either. I am not preaching a "prosperity" gospel here. There are no guarantees that you will be rewarded in this life for obedience. What I am saying is that you may have a better chance at holiness and a better relationship with the Lord if you actually show a little interest and put forth a little effort.

Nothing ventured nothing gained.

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