Surrender to be Blessed. Genesis 32

Points Covered: A sermon on the life of Jacob from Genesis 32 he surrendered to God. This sermon surrender to be blessed focus on the blessings we receive when we surrender.

Complete sermon series on Jacob

Many times, life brings us to situations where we are pushed to the losing side. Some of you are here with regrets of the past and pain of failure. Some of you are in different crossroads in life. I am here to tell you that God is with you at such times and the way you surrender to God determines your blessings. Surrender to be Blessed.

Open your bibles to Genesis 32. In our study of the life of Jacob, we have come to a critical turning point. Up until this time, Jacob has lived up to his name, taking every advantage he can find to get ahead in life. But all that is about to change.

Jacob has left his father-in-law’s home after 20 years in Haran. Most of the time was hard and difficult as Jacob chafed under Laban’s domination. But now at last he is free of Laban. Laban is history, a receding figure in the rear-view mirror. He’s heading home.

They are now camping on the banks of the Jabbok River. He is somewhere in the mountains of Gilead, literally on the border of the Promised Land. Through the hard times, Jacob has grown rich and prosperous. There is only one niggling detail from his past that still haunts him, Esau! He wondered whether Esau still plans to kill him. Now that Jacob is heading home, he has to face his brother.

If you read Genesis 32, you can understand Jacob was worried about Esau. Some days earlier Jacob had sent messengers to meet Esau with a message of peace and reconciliation. Genesis 32:6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” Maybe Esau has decided to get even after all these years. Maybe the 400 men are armed killers. Maybe he’s planning to settle an old score with his brother.

Night has fallen on the Jabbok, and he is left to wonder what tomorrow will bring. In a few hours, he will come face-to-face with the brother he cheated many years ago.

1. God is always just.

Sooner or later everyone will have to go back and face our past. Maybe it’s a broken relationship you thought time would heal. Maybe it’s a broken promise, a job unfinished, a task left incomplete, a lie you hoped would never catch up with you.

You’ve got to face the people you hurt, a time to own up to what you did. We can’t just go through life hurting people saying, “It doesn’t matter because I’ve moved on.” Life doesn’t work that way.

If you been dealt with unjustly, understand we serve a just God. For every injustice and hurt your adversary will have to give an account and regret what has been done to you.

Jacob is learning that truth the hard way. As the memories of the past float back to condemn him, his fears of tomorrow overwhelm him.

That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them and his possessions across the stream, Jacob is all alone on the bank of Jabbok.

Jacob is watching the stars overhead and wondering what tomorrow will bring when a man suddenly appears before him. Who is he? Jacob doesn’t know. The man isn’t saying anything. Suddenly the man grabs Jacob and begins to wrestle him to the ground. Jacob fights back thinking it might be a thief or possibly someone sent by Esau. On and on the men wrestle; grabbing, struggling, rolling around in the dust, always aiming for some advantage, looking to pin the other man to the ground. They do not talk to each other. Jacob is battling for his life.

Hours pass as neither man is able to gain an advantage. Jacob is exhausted but he does not stop or show any sign of weakness. One o’clock passes, then two o’clock, then three o’clock, then four o’clock. Sunrise is not far away. At length, just as the first rays of light are streaking over the hills of Gilead, the mystery man reaches out and touches Jacob’s thigh, dislocating it immediately. Just a touch, and Jacob feels his thigh bone pull out of its socket. Huge pain and incredible weakness. Later on Jacob will discover that the “man” was really God himself.

2. God is right in your circumstances.

God brings us again and again to crisis points where our self-sufficiency is shattered. There will be nights where we have no more strength and cannot take it anymore. Maybe your doctor has given up on you. There may be a problem with your job or you are worried about your family, children and you are living in fear. Maybe you are standing in the rubble of a broken marriage that you thought would last forever. You cry out, “God, why is this happening. I don’t have any more strength.?” God allows these things to happen so that, like Jacob, we find our self-confidence shattered and we are forced to trust in God in a new and deeper way.

Remember God is right in your circumstances. Until we are “broken” by God, we can never be greatly used by God. God brings us again and again to breaking points. A broken and contrite heart, he will not despise. When you are broken, you’ll be ready to listen and ready to obey. Then and only then can God greatly use you.

Illustration: A 9 year-old-boy was invited for his friend’s birthday party, a 10-minute walk from his house. He came home and asked permission from his father. The father permitted him. The boy went and bought a good birthday present, wrapped it and was waiting for the day. On the day of the birthday, it started snowing very badly in the area. The father soon realized the danger and asked his son to skip the birthday as it was stormy and snowing outside. The son was very sad, he said, “Daddy I want to go. All my friends will be there. I will take care of my safety.” The father finally let the son go but said, “Son be very careful.” The son got ready and left for the party. It was snowing very badly and was a difficult walk. It took him 30 minutes reach his friend’s home. As he pressed the calling bell, he looked back to see the tough terrain he had to walk and he risk he had to take and to his surprise he found his father just behind him. He father was walking behind the whole time he was in danger. Friends, God is right in your circumstances today.

I believe the mystery man was really a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. If so, why couldn’t the “man” subdue Jacob? This shows God’s patience on us. The “man” wrestled with Jacob all night to demonstrate to Jacob that no matter how much strength Jacob had, he was no match for God. No matter how much strength you have, you are no match for God. You cannot resist God for long. When God is dealing with your circumstances, better yield to him.

3. Do not be stiff-necked.

But why did he touch Jacob’s thigh? Because that is the largest and strongest muscle of the body. By touching his thigh, the man was deliberately crippling Jacob at the point of his greatest strength. It was an acted-out parable, a lesson whose moral Jacob could not miss: When you wrestle with God, you always lose. Do not be stiff necked. When God is dealing with you just surrender.

Proverbs 29:1 Whoever remains stiff necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy.

2 Chronicles 30:8 Do not be stiff-necked as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you.

In one sense, this is an “unfair” fight because at the end God touches Jacob’s thigh. According to the rules of wrestling, that isn’t “fair.” But sometimes it appears that God is unfair in the way he treats us. How many of us have gone through a hard time and seen life crumble around us, and we’ve cried out, “God! That’s not fair.” Understand, God is just and right in all he does. He never cheats.

4. God does not go by our thinking.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. 

That’s such an important lesson to learn. God doesn’t go by our rules. That’s why things happen in your life that on the surface appear to be unfair. God is never unfair. But in order to accomplish his greater purposes, he does things in your life that may appear to you to be unfair. God’s answer is always, “My child, I love you more than you know, I’m not unfair.

Illustration: A Chinese woman was afflicted with a malady which caused almost unbearable pain. After some weeks of the most intense suffering she finally recovered, but after a few months the same malady again fastened itself upon her. She almost felt that she could not enter the days and weeks ahead, knowing what they held of pain and suffering.

One Sunday afternoon a group of people went to call on her and before leaving they sang several Gospel songs and had prayer. When they opened our eyes she looked up at us and with tears streaming down her cheeks and in the midst of the most acute pain, said, “I don’t know why, but I know Him.” She knew that the hand which permitted it was a hand of love, therefore she gladly accepted anything which that hand should allow.

Jacob clearly lost the battle here. He cannot walk, he is limping. On the other side the sun is rising. The mysterious visitor is about to leave. But before he goes, he and Jacob have a brief conversation, the first words exchanged between them. In this conversation, we discover five new things about how we really win when we surrender. How we win when we surrender to God in our defeats?

The blessings of Surrender.

1. There is a new determination.

Genesis 32:26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Up until this point in Jacob’s life, he used all his strength and ability to achieve his own ends. Before this night, Jacob was running the show. Now he realizes that without God, he’s nothing. Before he used his wits to deceive Esau and trick Isaac, now he is learning the great lesson of Zechariah 4:4 that Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.

Jacob is determined that this man should bless him. You see, somewhere during the long hours of fruitless wrestling, Jacob realized that this “man” was no mere man. He was really the “angel of the Lord.” That’s the same thing as wrestling with God himself. He’s holding on for dear life. If he can’t win the fight, he’s not going to give up until he gets a blessing.

Jacob is having a new passion. I need the blessing of God. Yes, I am blessed in a physical sense with family and wealth but that is not true blessings, I need God to bless me.

God has something greater to offer you. As you surrender your life, God is going to give you a new passion to succeed, a new passion to be used for his glory.

2. We realize our own folly.

Genesis 32:27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. This was the turning point of Jacob’s life. Why did the man ask his name? Didn’t he know who Jacob was? Yes, of course he did. The question is, “Jacob, do you know who you really are?” The name “Jacob” means “heel-grabber,” “cheater,” “deceiver” and “supplanter.” That was who he was.

So when the angel says, “What is your name?” he is really asking, “Are you ready to admit who you really are? Are you ready to confess the deep truth about yourself?”

That’s always hard to do, and most of us will do anything to avoid the hard truth about the way we are, our character and how we live. You’ve heard it said, “The truth will set you free.” But listen, if the truth about you own life and you condition will hurt you first, then the truth of God can set you free. If you are willing to be hurt by the hard truth about who you really are, then you can be set free by God. When we surrender to God, we realize our own folly.

Isaiah had the vision of the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Isaiah said, “Woe to me! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the king, the Lord almighty. So when you really surrender to God you understand your own folly.

Until we admit the truth about our condition, we will remain as we are. What is your name? Until you can say, “My name is bitterness,” you can’t be healed. Until you can say, “My name is failure,” you can’t be a success. Until you can say, “My name is deception,” you can’t be blessed. Today, come to God as you are.

3. A new identity.

God gives you a new identity. Genesis 32:28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” The real Hebrew version means, “God who prevails with man.” It means God fought with Jacob and won.

When you surrender yourself, God will give you a new identity. Jacob got a new name – Israel. When the sun set the previous day, his name was Jacob. When the sun rose the next morning he became Israel. One night is enough for God to change your identity.

4. A new blessing.

Genesis 32:29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. The blessing meant that from now on Jacob would be God’s man through and through. No longer would he be known as a cheater and deceiver. From now on he would be remembered as the man who wrestled with God. He is going to be the father of the 12 tribes of Israel.

5. There is a lasting effect.

Genesis 32:30-32 30So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” 31The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

See the lasting effect when Jacob surrendered to God. The name of the place changed to Peniel. The Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the hip socket because of this. Jacob had a limp.

The next morning, when Jacob crosses the Jabbok, he is walking with a limp, one leg dragging behind the other. It’s a half-walk and a half-shuffle. There is pain in his face, but a smile plays across his lips. As his sons come around him, they say, “Daddy, what happened? Are you all right? Why are you limping? Did you have an accident?” Jacob replies, “Boys, sit down. I’m going to tell you the strangest thing you’re ever going to hear.” That incident was told and re-told and passed down across the generations and we are learning from it today that when you lose you really win.

Conclusion: Who won the match that night? God. Who lost? Jacob. But who really won? Jacob! That’s the paradox of life. When we wrestle with God, we always lose. But when we surrender, we win!

Did not Jesus say something very similar? Mark 8:35 Whoever wants to save his life will lose it.

Matthew 20:16 The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.

Today, God is calling you to surrender to him. Do Not Let God Go Until He Blesses You! So I’ll ask again. What do you really need from God right now? What blessing do you want from him? How badly do you want it? God will meet you in your anguish, fear, and uncertainty.

Are you willing to wrestle with him in prayer, it is an invitation to receive his blessing. Stay with him and don’t give up. Do not let him go until he blesses you! He loves to bless that kind of tenacious faith and you will come out transformed.

Complete sermon series on Jacob

Sermon series on Nehemiah