Published in the Pentecostal Evangel, January 9, 1926.
“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” As we look back over our spiritual careers we always see that there has been a good deal of our own day, and that the end or our day was the beginning of God’s day. We cannot enter into the deep things of God until we are free from our own ideas and ways.
Jacob! The name means supplanter, but when Jacob came to the end of his way God had a way. How slow we are to see that God has a better way for each one of us. Beloved, the glory is never so wonderful as when God has His way, when we are helpless and throw down our sword and give up our authority to another. Jacob was a great worker and he would go through any hardship if he could only have his way. In many things he had his way, and how gloriously God preserved him from calamity. There is a way that seems good, but the end of that way is death: but God has His very best for each of His own, a higher standard for us than we have yet attained. The best thing is for God’s plan and purpose to he fulfilled in our lives, and that we shall be delivered from the way our own natural hearts might lead us.
Jacob and his mother had a plan to secure the blessing from Isaac. But how inglorious was the fulfilling of this carnal plan. The result of it was that Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing where with his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.” Our own plans lead us so frequently into disaster. Jacob had to flee from the land. But how gracious the Lord was to that fleeing fugitive. God planned the ladder and the angels. Our God is so gracious that He refused to have His plans of grace frustrated by the carnal workings of Jacob’s mind; and so He revealed Himself to Jacob, saying to him, “I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into the land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” It is the goodness of the Lord that leads to repentance, and I believe that if ever Jacob was conscious of his own meanness it was when God revealed His wonderful goodness to him.
Many things may happen in our lives to show us how depraved we are by nature, but when the veil is lifted we see how merciful and tender God is. His tender compassion is over us all the time. Oh how wonderful it is to be where God is! Since the time that Jacob had had the revelation of the ladder and the angels he had had twenty-one years of wandering, fighting and struggling. But God had been faithful to His promise all these years. Listen to Jacob’s testimony to his wives. “Your father hath deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God suffered him not to hurt me.” And his further testimony to his father-in-law, “Except the God of my father had been with me, thou hadst sent me away empty. God hath seen my affliction and the labor of my hands.”
Now that Jacob was returning to the land of his birth, his heart was full of fear. If ever he needed the Lord it was just at this time. He wanted to be alone with God. Oh to be left alone! Alone with God! In the context we read that all that he had, had gone on. His wives had gone on, his children had gone on, his sheep and oxen had gone on, his camels and asses had gone on, all had gone on. He was alone. You will often find that you are alone. Whether you like it or not. your wife will go on, your children will go on, your cattle will go on. “And Jacob was left alone, and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” The Lord saw Jacab’s need and came down and met with him. He it was who wrestled with the supplanter, breaking him, changing him, transforming him. Jacob was brought to a place of absolute weakness. He knew that his brother Esau had power to take away all that he had and execute vengeance upon him. He knew that there was only one kind of deliverance. No one could deliver him but God. And there alone, lean in soul and impoverished in spirit he met with God. Oh we need to get alone with God, we need to be broken, we need to he changed, we need to he transformed. And when we meet with God, when He interposes, all care and strife is at an end. When He reveals Himself, all is plain, and the plan of the Holy Ghost is so clear. Get alone with God and receive the revelation of His infinite grace and of His wonderful purposes and plans for your life.
Jacob was left alone. The picture is so real to me. Alone! Alone! Alone! He began to think. He would think about the ladder and the angels. I think as he began to pray his tongue would cleave to the roof of his mouth. Jacob had to get rid of a lot of things. It had been all Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! It would all be so plain to him there alone with God. If you get alone with God, what a place of revelation! What a revelation of self! What a revelation of the provision at Calvary! It is here that we get the revelation of a life crucified with Christ, transformed by grace, and empowered by the Spirit!
Hour after hour passed. Oh that we might spend all nights alone with God! We stay too long with our relations, our camels and sheep. We are occupied too much with the things of time and sense. We need the presence of God. We need to give God time if we are to receive new revelations from Him. We need to get past all the thoughts of earthly matters that crowd in so rapidly. We need to give God time to deal with us. It is only after He has dealt with us as He dealt with Jacob that we can have power with Him and prevail.
Jacob was not dry-eyed that night. Hosea tells us, “He wept and made supplication.” He knew he had been a disappointment to the Lord, he had heen a groveller. But in the revelation that he received as he wrestled that night, he saw the possibility of being transformed from a supplanter to become a prince with God. The testing hour came when at break of day the angel, who was none other than the Lord of hosts, said to him, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.” This is where we so often fail. Jacob knew that if God went without blessing him, Esau could not be met. You cannot meet the terrible things that await you in the world unless you secure the blessing of God. If you are left alone—alone with God—and you cannot get to a place of victory, it is a terrible time.
You must never let go, whatever you are seeking—fresh revelation, light on the path, some particular need—never let go. Victory is ours if we are earnest enough. If darkness covers you, if it is a fresh revelation you need, or your mind needs relef, or there are problems that you know you cannot solve, lay hold of God and declare, “I will not let Thee go, except thou bless me.”
In wrestling, the strength is in the neck, the breast and the thigh; but your greatest strength is in your thigh. And so the Lord touched Jacob’s thigh. With his strength gone, surely defeat is certain. What did Jacob do? He hung on. God means to have a people who are broken in themselves, for divine power can only come when there is an end of self-sufficiency. When you are broken, still hold fast. If we let go we shall fall short.
Jacob cried, “I will not let thee go except thou bless me.” And God blessed him and declared, “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.” Now a new order is beginning. The old supplanter has passed away, there is a new creation, and Jacob the supplanter is transformed to Israel the prince. God has come into his life. Henceforth he is a soldier of God and there is victory. When God comes into your life you will find Him enough for all time and all eternity. As Israel comes forth the sun rises upon him and he has power over all the things of the world, and power over Esau. Read how God blessed and honored him. Esau meets him. There is no fighting now, but a blessed reconciliation. They kissed each other. “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh his enemies to be at peace with him.” “But what about all these cattle, Jacob?” “Oh, that’s a present.” “Oh, I have plenty; I don’t want your cattle. What a joy it is to see your face again!” What a wonderful change! The material things don’t count for much after a night of revelation. Who wrought this change? God.
Could Jacob hold on to the Lord? Can you hold God? Yes, you can. Sincerity can hold Him, dependence can hold Him, weakness can hold Him. It is when you are weak that you are strong. But I will tell you what cannot hold Him. Self-righteousness cannot hold Him, pride cannot hold Him, presumption cannot hold Him, highmindedness cannot hold Him; thinking you are something when you are nothing puffed up in your own imagination. But sincerity can hold Him. You can hold Him in the closet, in the prayer meeting, everywhere. If you become lukewarm, instead of being at white-heat, you become a disappointment to God.
There may be a thought sometimes that He has left you. Oh no. He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. He had promised not to leave Jacob and He did not fail in His promise. He has promised not to leave us and He will not fail. We need to get alone with God, to have a real meeting with God. He will bring us down. He will change our names. He will transform us from Jacob to Israel. But we need to lay hold of Him. Jacob held on and clung to Him until the blessing came. If God does not help me I am no good for this world’s need. I am no longer salt. It is so easy to lose the savor. But as we get alone with God and meet with Him and He gives us His blessing, He resalts us, He empowers us, He brings us to brokenness, and moves us into the orbit of His own perfect will. God’s Spirit was working in Jacob to bring him to a place of helplessness. We need to be brought to a place of helplessness where we do not lean upon our own natural understanding. But when we are brought to a state of helplessness it is then that we need the Lord. It is then that we need His power, and we need to lay hold on Him and not let Him go until our whole being is surging with the mighty power of God, until we are filled with the mighty faith of God, and His very nature is implanted in us.
“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 Peniel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.” You may ask, “What is the use of a lame man?” It is those who have seen the face of God and have heen broken by Him that can meet the forces of the enemy and break down the bulwarks of Satan’s kingdom. It is the lame that take the prey. Jacob was brought to a place of dependence upon God. It is when we have the revelation of Calvary, and see that we ourselves are good for nothing, and that God counts us as good for nothing, and has crucified our old natures upon that rugged cross, and has made the cross of Christ real in our lives so that we are broken, that we can come forth to a life of dependence upon the power of the Holy Ghost. Henceforth we are nothing without Him, we are absolutely dependent upon Him. I am absolutely nothing without the power and unction of the Holy Ghost. Oh for a life of absolute dependence! It is only a life of dependence that is a life of power. If you are not there, get alone with God, let Him change and transform you, and never let Him go until He blesses you and makes you an Israel, a prince with God.