Friday, February 19, 2016

He Changes Our Name

I love when I am reading a story and I feel this special connection to the characters in the story.  I love even more when I read my Bible and the Lord speaks so clearly to me.  No, it isn't audible speech from the Lord, but it is definitely a Word from Him and the closer I get to Him, the more I am privileged to enjoy this.  

Something quite interesting struck me as I was studying about Jacob in my Bible study a couple of weeks ago.  The very fact that God promised Jacob all of these blessings when his name means "deceiver" was the first thing that I found a little fascinating.  Even more than that, as I was reading and studying I kept thinking, surely at some point, we will see how God is going to punish or rebuke Jacob...but we don't...at least not that I recall.

Let's talk about this for a minute.  Jacob marries Leah thinking she was Rachel because Rachel was his favorite.  Then, because it wasn't Rachel, he works for 7 more years in order to marry Rachel {I don't know about you but I am feeling pretty sorry for Leah and her feelings at this point}.  He gets their two maidservants pregnant.  He was a manipulator from the beginning...he even sent is wives and children ahead of him when he thought Esau was going to rip his head off so that he wouldn't have to face him first!

Then....Jacob encounters the stranger.  He wrestled with God and God changes him.  He not only changes him but he changes his name - to Israel.  I love what Angie says in description of what God says to Jacob:

"You are no longer that person you were.  There is no need for you to trick and grab and twist everything you can't make sense of.  You are Mine, and you will have a legacy as powerful as any.  Say goodbye to what you were, because it's gone." pg. 51, Seamless

Where my mind kept going was this:  how in the world can God continue to bless this man???  He has done some rotten things in his life and did not seem repentant at all!  Why in the world did God not punish him for any of those things that he did?  I mean we just came away from seeing what the consequence of Adam and Eve's sin was (it was kinda major, ya know), what God said after he created man, and what He did about how He felt about all that (think rain...lots and lots of rain).  Then, there's the whole language confusion thing.  Then, there is Jacob.

Then, it hit me...sort of like a ton of bricks.  None of those things I was thinking about Jacob mattered.  First of all, just because we don't read about it in the Bible, does not mean that God did not discipline Jacob.  I think that sometimes people get all caught up in the "it doesn't say not to do it in the Bible so it must be okay." The part that most people miss out on is that the Bible is not a book of morality, it is a book of redemption.  The Bible is a story that describes our need for a Savior - THE Savior.  But even more than this revelation for me was that God loved Jacob and had a plan for his life.  Jacob wrestled with God and he won.  God changed his name.  He took the old Jacob and made him new - Israel - to fulfill the covenant that He had with Abraham.  

God does the same for you and me.  It does not matter what kind of yucky mess that we get ourselves into.  He has an amazing plan for our lives and His love for us is so incredible!  He makes broken into beautiful.  When I feel like I have messed everything up, He is right there to remind me, yet again, just how much He loves me.  God's grace was sufficient for Jacob and it is sufficient for you and me. He is merciful.  He is faithful.  He is wonderful.

He changes our names.

"Your name will no longer by Jacob, "the man told him. "From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won." Genesis 32:28


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