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Richard Arillotta
Dependency – Genesis 32:24-32

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DEPENDENCY -
 GOD’S WORK OF DEATH TO OUR OWN STRUGGLE
by Richard Arillotta

Then Jacob was left alone: and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.  Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip, and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.  And He said, Let Me go, for the day breaks.  And he said, I will not let You go, unless You bless me!  So He said unto him, What is your name?  He said, Jacob.  And He said, Your name shall be called no longer be called Jacob, but Israel (Prince of God); for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.  Then Jacob asked, saying, Tell me Your name, I pray.  And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?”  And He blessed him there.  So Jacob called the name of the place Penuel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.  Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.  Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.”  (Genesis 32:24-32 N.K.J.V.)

God would have us to grow in dependence upon Him.  He is a Father to His children, as a child is dependent upon his Father for his provision and care. Our Lord would have us depend upon Him, with the faith of a child.  So I decided to use Jacob’s scenario of him wrestling with the Angel of the Lord. 

In Gen. 32: 24 Jacob was left alone, and God was about to make a drastic change in him.  Often God puts a situation or circumstance in our life to get us alone.  In times of solitude, we are refreshed from the Lord.  Sometimes by revelation, and sometimes by wrestling, in either case, we come away changed.  There are many times when I’m alone, and God is speaking and working within me.  Without His presence, the loneliness is not very pleasurable.  But being alone with God is a wonderful experience and also life changing.  We sometimes try to replace our loneliness by watching movies, videos, going out, and so forth.  We won’t find lasting rest and lasting peace in those things.  God commands us in Hebrew 4 to enter His rest.  God is longsuffering toward us and lets us go for a short time until we come to the end of ourselves.  But in His time, He will direct our steps to be alone with Him.  God does the best work in us when we experience solitude in Him, and it becomes more personal and more meaningful.  This brings a deeper intimacy into our relationship with Him. 

In verses 25 and 26, He wrestled with Jacob.  Our flesh or self-life is against God, and resists the truth.  The work of the Cross delivers us from the power of the flesh.  The death of the flesh or death to self-life is sometimes a long process.  God began to do a work on Jacob by touching his hip and putting him in a disabled position.  It is in the disabling (whatever it may be) that we learn to lean on Him.  We then have to rely on Him to enable us.  And the Lord said, “Let me go, and Jacob said, “No I will not let you go until you bless me.”  This verse (26) means that the flesh is something that God has to do a work of death upon.  Jacob thought that he would get blessings by hanging onto God on his terms (his own agenda).  Remember Jacob stole his brother’s blessing from his father by being a conniver, with the help of his mother, and by means of fleshly endeavor.  Also he made his brother (Esau) give up his birthright for food, and he didn’t even consult the Lord concerning these incidents.  Therefore, the Lord pulled his hip out of its socket so that Jacob could no longer trust in his fleshly ability.  Notice, at the birth of the twins (Jacob and Esau), “his (Jacob’s) hand took hold of Esau’s heel” (Gen. 25:26).  Esau came out first, and then Jacob – that mean the blessing of the birthright goes to Esau.  Jacob’s name means “supplanter” (“heel-grabber”) one who wants to take over or to be superior over.  Here is a picture of sin – “And in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).  And it is also a picture of pride.  Sin wants “to take over.”   Jacob “took hold of” the possessions of others - his brother’s birthright (Gen. 25:29-34), his father’s blessing (Gen. 27:1-29).  Here is an indication that Jacob steals the blessings out of envy.  And again when the Lord wrestles with Jacob, he said, I will not let You go,” symbolic of a heel-grabber, to take over something by fleshly means!  But Jacob’s affliction became a blessing when he needed to learn dependence upon the Lord on His terms.  In Hosea 12:2-5, we read, “The Lord also brings a charge against Judah.  And will punish Jacob according to his ways.  According to his deeds He will recompense him.  He took his brother by the heel in the womb.  And in his strength he struggled with God.  Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed.  He wept, and sought favor from Him.  He found Him in Bethel.  And there He spoke to us- that is, the Lord of hosts, the Lord is His memorable name.”  God will judge Jacob according to what he had done in his body (I Cor. 3:2-5).  God wanted Jacob to rely upon His strength, His power, His Spirit, His blessing, His agenda, and not upon his own flesh, nor his deceitful ways of obtaining blessing.  Just like in my life, God allowed me to have cerebral palsy to be dependent upon Him for His plan to be fulfilled.  Jesus will not do anything without the Father (John 5).  He submitted to total dependence upon the Father.  He came to do the will of the Father.  Jesus is our example that we are to follow.

The next paragraph talked about God changing Jacob’s name to Israel (prince of God).  It is a name that foreshadows thing to come - Jesus Christ is the real Prince of God.  He submits to total dependence upon the Father.  That is what God wants to do in Israel/ Jacob.  Notice in verses 27, 28 of Genesis 32, God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel” (Prince of God) who “struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed” (NKJV).  How can anyone depend upon God without having any weakness or any difficulty or struggle and be an overcomer and prevail?  We can’t!  In our weakness, difficulty and struggle, we have a tendency to see God more clearly and our need of Him.  Our struggle leads to dependency upon God.  God was making Jacob to be a leader (prince of God).  One important observation; God asked him what is your name?  He said, “Jacob!”  It means “supplanter” – to take over by the means of deceiving, scheming, cunning, or conniving.  Jacob had to be changed because Israel (Jacob) had to rely on God’s ways.  God shows Himself to Jacob in a vision in Chapter 28 (God gave him the vision of his seed of the blessing go forth from him), and again here – (Penuel) face to face in verse 30 of chapter 32.  In verse 32 of chapter 32, Jacob was left with a disability, and to show the children of God (Israelites) that God uses anything including our disability, and that disability is a reminder to depend upon God.  The children of Israel were not to eat the thigh (muscle) of an animal for a memorial.  The blessing of God is not in our own idea of blessing, but what God WANTS for us.  The last part of verse 29 said, “He blessed him there.”  The blessing was that he no longer has to rely on his fleshly endeavors or his conniving ways, but to rely upon Him on His terms by faith.  The evidence that God did change Jacob to walk by faith is in Hebrew 11:21 “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff” (Gen. 48).

Remember God had already promised him the blessing in chapter 28.  But Jacob struggled to obtain God’s promises by fleshly endeavors rather than by faith.  After God wrestled with Jacob, God gave him the name “Israel.”  An inner spiritual change was taking place.  As a result, Jacob was ready now to meet Esau and make peace with him (chapter 33).  In chapter 33 verses 10, Jacob met Esau - And Jacob said, “No please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me.”  To receive the present was to physically signal forgiveness and restoration.  When he met God, he knew and experienced that God is the God of grace and forgiveness.

Jacob/Israel walked with a limp every day for the rest of his life.  Meeting with God did not lead to some “victory statement or to some miraculous healing” - it resulted in a crippling of his body.  The marks on Israel were a limp and a new name - evidence of a broken body, and a new position (prince of God) with God.  And the new name could not be separated from the new crippling, for the crippling could not be separated from the name.  I am not saying that God cannot heal, but I am saying that God has a different purpose for all of us.  Actually, God is always healing us – by conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom.  8:28,29).  “Our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).  God uses our infirmities for an inward change.  God had a purpose for Jacob to be crippled.  I have a nickname called, “The Puppet Man!”  A college teacher once said that I moved like a real “live” marionette puppet.  It was because of my erratic movement caused by my cerebral palsy.  My new name associates that, as “a broken vessel” I can be used by God.

Jacob/Israel gained a victory.  Yes, he had seen the face of God and lived, and he would never be the same.  God touched Jacob/ Israel, and corrected him with an affliction – affirming that only God is God, and Jacob needed to be dependent upon Him.  In Psalm 119:67 David said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep thy Word.”  And verse 71 said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.”  King David had to learn to be dependent upon God by affliction.  His affliction caused him to turn toward Him.  God may give us affliction to teach us to turn toward Him that He may get His purpose done in and through our lives. 

Jacob’s limp hints at a concept developed more fully again in the New Testament in 1 Cor. 1:25-31 and 2 Cor 12:7-10 – that God has chosen what is foolish, and weak, and things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are, so there is no place for pride in the presence of God.  Jacob was a cripple with a blessing.  His blessing was to no longer rely upon his flesh, but to rely upon God.  Before God pulled his hip out of socket, Jacob was led by pride (conniving, cunning, or by fleshly endeavor).

Another important aspect of Jacob’s life was that he was a man of pleading before God and wrestling in prayer - “I will not let You go, unless You bless me!  God did answer his prayer, but not on his terms.  Prayer takes massive labor.  Prayer takes all of our heart.  Prayer is the most unearthly act on this side of heaven.  Only prayer changed Jacob, and he would never be the same.

Although our lives may be different, God does not change His purpose for our lives (Job 42:2).  Struggling is an indication that we need to rely upon Him.  He is our Father, and we ought to depend upon Him with a child-like faith.  He will teach us through everything that comes into our lives to depend upon Him. 

The sufferings of life  are there to show us how fragile we are. But the love of Christ  is there to secure the weak. It is like the thorn below the rose  that protects the petals of our heart!

Written by “The Puppet Man”
Richard Arillotta  *  Oct. 1993

Richard Arillotta, our guest speaker for today, has the VICTORY in Christ Jesus.  You can reach him at: puppetman52@yahoo.com or through Ron@fridaystudy.org

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FridayStudy.org

www.FirstChurchontheNet.org
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Ron@FridayStudy.org
Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

 

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