“AND Jacob was loft alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”
(Concluded from page 201.)
The night is far spent, and the angel and Jacob continue their wrestling. But the Lord will not contend for ever, he will bring his dealings with his people to a gracious conclusion. Our heavenly Father ever has our welfare in view, no matter how severe his discipline. Though he casts us down, and we are laid in the deeps, he will bring us up again from the depths of the sea, and exalt us in due time at his own right hand in heavenly places. Thus, when the angel of the Lord saw that be prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. Thus as the ascension of the morning was approaching, by a mysterious, divine touch Jacob’s thigh is put out of joint. This was a master stroke. Jacob can no longer stand upon his feet, he sinks, he falls in his anguish to the ground. Did Jacob loosen his hold of the man as he sank prostrate to the earth? No; the man who wrestled all night with him is down with him too, held fast in his embrace. When we in our troubles could hold up no longer did we yield to despair! Did not our hearts the rather cry out, “Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on thee.” When Jacob was lowest, then he was uppermost; when he was weakest then he was strongest. Out of weakness he was made strong. This is a divine paradox so often verified in the experience of the saints. There can be no mistake in affirming that a divine power was imparted to Jacob, a poor, sinful creature, to wrestle with the man. But surely Jacob is done for, vanquished, he will slacken his hold, for he can rise no more. Will he not now cry out, Enough, I yield, thou hast gained the mastery? Not so. Shall I say that amidst his agonies the poor, prostrate cripple tightened his grip I What a scene is this just before the break of day; wrestling still, though no longer able to stand upon his feet. What tossings to and fro have also been going on in the heart of Jacob. Before the man began to wrestle with him he was greatly agitated, and his conflicts then taxed all his energies. So Jacob now is engaged in a twofold conflict. This inquiry also exercises his soul, “Who is this that wrestles with me? The darkness of the night is upon me, and I cannot see his face.” So the child of God often inquires, “These sharp temptations, adversities and trials that I wrestle with, are they friends or foes!
The day breaketh. Draw nearer with me, fellow witnesses of this scene. See one of the wrestlers weepeth. There course the tears down his cheeks. Listen, he maketh supplications. Which one is it that weepeth and is the suppliant! The weeping wrestler is the one the hollow of whose thigh is out of joint. (Hosea xii. 4.) Jacob wept and made supplication. The day breaketh. It was then Jacob obtained the first glimpses of the face of this mighty wrestler, and such glimpses did he have of the one bending over him, that his heart was wholly persuaded it was not a foe, but one whose look was tender mercy toward the fallen one. When the Lord has brought you low, has it been revealed to thee, as the day breaketh, that he who has afflicted thee, whose providences have prostrated you, is thy gracious Friend, full of tender pity?
“Jacob wept and made supplication unto him.” All the dear family of God have their times of weeping. Indeed, to many much of life’s pilgrimage is in the vale of tears. A tearless religion is not the religion of Christ, for the Spirit of God so teaches the elect that in a heart feeling way they are made to feel their estrangement from the holy One of Israel, and they mourn every one for his iniquity. (Ezek. vii. 16.) The causes of the tears of the saints are manifold. They weep when in captivity to the enemy, (Psalm cxxxvii.) and when they tread the homeward pathway they come with weeping and supplications. (Jer. xxxi. 9.) Contrite souls even in our day water their couch with their tears. (Psalm vi. C.) Peter wept bitterly; Hezekiah wept sore. There are seasons when the daughter of Zion weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks. (Lam. i. 2.) Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Then she sings, and her face is radiant with smiles, for the Lord has forgiven all her sins, he hath scattered her foes, he has lifted up the light of his countenance upon her.
“And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” Jacob might say, Shall I let thee go, and wilt thou leave me, a poor, disabled cripple, in the dust!
“Lord, I cannot let thee go,
Till a blessing thou bestow;
Do not tarn away thy face,
Mine’s an urgent, pressing case.
No, I must maintain my hold,
‘Tis thy goodness makes me bold;
I can no denial take,
When I plead for Jesus’ sake.”
“Except thou bless me.” Thy blessing shall dry my tears, heal my woes and strengthen me. With thy blessing I will fear no evil, I can face Esau and his four hundred men. “Let them curse, but bless thou.” – Psalm cix. 28. Leave me not, neither forsake me, give me first thy benediction. Thou earnest as an adversary, and hast brought me in anguish into the dust of the earth, now, only as my friend can I let thee go. Thou earnest with a frown, now leave thy smile with me. Thou was angry with me, let thine anger be turned away, and comfort me with thy blessing. O, dear reader, whatever thou hast, if thou lackest the blessing of the Lord, how destitute thou art. “And he said unto him, What is thy name? and he said, Jacob.” This inquiry and Jacob’s answer is full of meaning. There was signified in it Jacob’s unbrotherly conduct. Esau in his exceeding bitter cry exclaimed, “Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and behold, now he hath taken away my blessing.” – Gen. xxvii. 36. The Lord is constantly drawing forth from his people the confession of their low estate, and it is not with a trifling tongue they answer the Lord’s searching inquiry, but in lowliness of heart they bow at his feet confessing their name is Jacob. A worm, (Isaiah xli. 14,) the chief of sinners, (1 Tim. i. 15,) ready to perish, (Dent. xxvi. 5,) dust and ashes, (Gen. xviii. 27.) When Jacob had acknowledged his name, did the angel say, Thou art too unworthy, thou hast been too contemptibly mean to have my blessing? O No. In such exceeding riches of grace the Lord deals with the vessels of mercy afore prepared unto glory, for on them he will make known the riches of his glory, and Jacob was one of such vessels of mercy. “I have loved you, saith the Lord: yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau.” Here we have displayed the holy and glorious sovereignty of Jehovah’s love. “And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with man, and hast prevailed.” O, this in truth is raising up the poor out of the dust, and lifting up the beggar from the dunghill, to set him among princes, and to make him inherit the throne of glory. As he spake these words methinks I see the man and Israel arising from the dust. Yes, when the man arose Israel with him. The everlasting arms lifted up the lame man, and in tender compassion put his thigh in joint again (although he ever after had a remembrance of this in the sinew that shrank). The Lord bringeth low and lifteth up. How often are believers in Jesus brought low through oppression, affliction and sorrow; our pride and self-sufficiency have to be so often brought to naught. He brings down our heart with labor, we fall down, and there is none to help. “I was brought low, and he helped me.” This is ever the experience of the people of God.
“Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel.” The Lord gives to his people another name, a new name. (Isaiah lxii. 2.) The first name is significant of what we are in our fallen estate, bane and sinful, earthy, a name declaring our dishonor, a name upon which reproach and condemnation rests, a name in which we are ashamed and weep before God. “But thou shalt no more be termed forsaken; neither shall the land anymore be termed desolate; but thou shalt bo called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.” – Isaiah lxii. 4. “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” – Eph. ii. 19. “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” – Gal. iv. 7. The Lord pronounced Jacob a prince. This honor have all his saints, for our mighty Savior who hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, hath made us kings and priests unt6 God and his Father. “As a prince hast thou power with God and with man, and hast prevailed.” This was God-given power. Glorious illustrations of this are portrayed in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. “Through faith they subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” The people of God according to their day, the circumstances they are in, and the work to be performed, are endued with power from on high. Even the wonderful privilege of having power with God flows from the gracious power of God. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, and this spirit of supplication the Lord pours down upon his suppliants. (Zech. xii. 10.) Our power with God in prayer at his footstool ever proceeds from the glorious and precious fact that we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. Through him, through his sacrifice and blood, his obedience and eternal excellency we have access, acceptance, favor and power with God, and in triumphant faith we sometimes sing, “We shall be more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
“And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.” “Thy name.” In what relationship do we stand to each other? How shall I think of thee when thou art absent, removed from my sight! From the very dawn of the Lord’s dealings with his own they begin to ask after his name. How hallowed is his name! and as the name of the Lord is unfolded to them by the holy Spirit they reverently, affectionately and prayerfully think upon his name; and the wondrous works of the Lord in creation, providence, the gospel of the grace of God, declare to them how near is his name. (Psalm lxxv. 1.) “Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?” Ah, Lord, thou thyself knowest. So poor, weak and sinful am I. Is thy name Jesus, art thou my Savior? Is it Redeemer, and hast thou ransomed me from hell? Is thy name Shepherd, Husband, Friend, the Lord our righteousness, Emmanuel, Incarnate love? Art thou all this unto a poor sinner like me? “And he blessed him there” on the field of conflict. He anointed him with it. The dark, bitter night is over, and the morning finds Jacob no longer “greatly afraid and distressed,” but there he stands in princely majesty, for his name is Israel. Now he can meet Esau.
“And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. And as he passed over Pennel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew which shrank.”
FRED. W. KEENE.
North Berwick, Maine.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 70, No. 8
April 15, 1902