Lesson 2 | Sabbath, 11 January 2020
“When in his distress Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and made supplication with tears, the heavenly Messenger, in order to try his faith, also reminded him of his sin, and endeavored to escape from him…. As he reviewed his life, he was driven almost to despair; but he held fast the Angel, and with earnest, agonizing cries urged his petition until he prevailed.
“Such will be the experience of God’s people in their final struggle with the powers of evil…. They will have a deep sense of their shortcomings, and as they re- view their lives their hopes will sink. But remembering the greatness of God’s mer- cy, and their own sincere repentance, they will plead His promises made through Christ to helpless, repenting sinners. Their faith will not fail because their prayers are not immediately answered. They will lay hold of the strength of God, as Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and the language of their souls will be, ‘I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.’” –Conflict and Courage, p. 68.
- What did Jacob do when he returned to his father’s land from Mesopo- tamia and would soon meet his brother, whom he had greatly wronged many years before? What threatened him and his family, causing him un- told distress?
Genesis 32:3-7 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now: 5And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight. 6And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him. 7Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands.
“It is not safe for us to close our eyes and harden our consciences, that we shall not see or realize our sins.
“The humble heart will not think confession beneath him. He will not feel it a disgrace to confess if he has in any way, even in thought, hurt his brother or hin- dered God’s work through him.
“Sins not repented of are sins not forgiven. Those who think themselves for- given for sins of which they have never felt the sinfulness and over which they have never felt contrition of soul, only deceive themselves…. Our strength lies in our conscious weakness…. In self-distrust we cry to God for help, and work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Casting away all confidence in the arm of flesh, we cling with firm grasp to Jesus….” –Our High Calling, p. 82.
- In his anguish, how did he plead with the Lord? What gave him comfort?
Genesis 32:9-13, first part And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: 10I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. 11Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. 12And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude. 13And he lodged there that same night;…
“The nearer we come to Jesus, and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly shall we see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the less shall we feel like exalting ourselves. There will be a continual reaching out of the soul after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and hum- bling of the heart before Him. At every advance step in our Christian experience our repentance will deepen. We shall know that our sufficiency is in Christ alone and shall make the apostle’s confession our own: ‘I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing.’ ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.’ Romans 7:18; Galatians 6:14.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 561.
Doing everything possible to achieve the desired end
- What did he send to his brother and with what message of humility and deference? What did he hope to accomplish by doing this?
Genesis 32:13-15, 17-20 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother; 14Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams, 15Thirty milch cam- els with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals….
17And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee? 18Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob’s; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he is behind us. 19And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him. 20And say ye moreover, Behold, thy ser- vant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me.
“All heaven is interested in the interview between the one who has been in- jured and the one who is in error. As the erring one accepts the reproof offered in the love of Christ, and acknowledges his wrong, asking forgiveness from God and from his brother, the sunshine of heaven fills his heart. The controversy is end- ed; friendship and confidence are restored. The oil of love removes the soreness caused by the wrong. The Spirit of God binds heart to heart, and there is music in heaven over the union brought about.” –Gospel Workers, pp. 499, 500.
- On the way, what happened as he was praying alone at night? What made it possible for him to go through this?
Genesis 32:24, 25 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25And when he saw that he 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.
“The Lord needs men and women who carry with them into the daily life the light of a godly example, men and women whose words and actions show that Christ is abiding in the heart, teaching, leading, and guiding. He needs men and women of prayer, who, by wrestling alone with God, obtain the victory over self, and then go forth to impart to others that which they have received from the Source of power. God accepts those who crucify self, and makes them vessels unto honor. They are in His hands as clay in the hands of the potter, and He works His will through them. Such men and women receive spiritual power. Christ lives in them, and the power of His Spirit attends their efforts. They realize that they are to live in this world the life that Jesus lived–a life free from all selfishness; and He enables them to bear witness for Him that draws souls to the cross of Calvary.” –Daughters of God, pp. 81, 82.
- What did the Stranger with whom Jacob wrestled finally say to him? For what did the patriarch plead?
Genesis 32:26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
“All night Jacob wrestled with the Angel. Finally the strong wrestler was weak- ened by a touch on his thigh. He was now disabled and suffering the keenest pain, but he would not loose his hold. All penitent and broken, he clung to the Angel,… pleading for a blessing. He must have the assurance that his sin was pardoned. His determination grew stronger, his faith more earnest and persevering, until the very last. The Angel tried to release Himself; He urged, ‘Let me go, for the day breaketh,’ but Jacob answered, ‘I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.’” – Christ Triumphant, p. 89.
The most important blessing
- What did the Angel ask Jacob? What did He do, and why? Explain the significance of Jacob’s two names.
Genesis 32:27, 28 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
Hosea 12:3, 4 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: 4Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us.
“Through humiliation, repentance, and self-surrender this sinful, erring mortal prevailed with the Majesty of heaven. He had fastened his trembling grasp on the promises of God, and the heart of infinite love could not turn away the sinner’s plea.
“As an evidence that Jacob had been forgiven, his name was changed from one that was a reminder of his sin to one that commemorated his victory. ‘Thy name,’ said the Angel, ‘shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.’
“Shall we obtain strength from God, and win victory after victory, or shall we try in our own strength, and at last fall back defeated, worn out by vain efforts? Let us, by unreserved surrender to God, obtain the power that everyone must have who conquers in the battle against evil.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 89.
- What was Jacob given? After this experience, in what did he rejoice? What meaning does Jacob’s night of prayer, wrestling, and affliction have for all of God’s people both now and in the future?
Genesis 32:29, 30 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. 30And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
Jeremiah 30:5-7 For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. 6Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? 7Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
“Jacob’s night of anguish, when he wrestled in prayer for deliverance from the hand of Esau (Genesis 32:24-30), represents the experience of God’s people in the time of trouble. Because of the deception practiced to secure his father’s blessing, intended for Esau, Jacob had fled for his life, alarmed by his brother’s deadly threats…. On reaching the borders of the land, he was filled with terror by the tidings of Esau’s approach at the head of a band of warriors, doubtless bent upon revenge…. His only hope was in the mercy of God; his only defense must be prayer. Yet he leaves nothing undone on his own part to atone for the wrong to his brother and to avert the threatened danger. So should the followers of Christ, as they approach the time of trouble, make every exertion to place themselves in a proper light before the people, to disarm prejudice, and to avert the danger which threatens liberty of conscience.” –The Great Controversy, p. 616.
For additional study
“Jacob’s experience during that night of wrestling and anguish represents the trial through which the people of God must pass just before Christ’s second com- ing. The prophet Jeremiah, in holy vision looking down to this time, said, ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace…. All faces are turned into paleness. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.’ Jeremiah 30:5-7.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 201 (1890).
“To human sight it will appear that the people of God must soon seal their tes- timony with their blood, as did the martyrs before them. They themselves begin to fear that the Lord has left them to fall by the hand of their enemies. It is a time of fearful agony. Day and night they cry unto God for deliverance…. Like Jacob, all are wrestling with God. Their countenances express their internal struggle. Paleness sits upon every face. Yet they cease not their earnest intercession.
“Could men see with heavenly vision, they would behold companies of angels that excel in strength stationed about those who have kept the word of Christ’s patience.” –The Great Controversy, p. 630 (1911).