Sunday, 9th November 2014
Shimu Kathy Poon
“After Jabob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.’ So he named him Israel.” (Genesis 35:9-10)
Today Shimu Kathy shared with us the story of Jacob. The meaning of Jacob is ‘holder of the heel’, and also ‘supplanter’, which means one who wrongfully or illegally seized and held the place of another. Jacob’s name represented his character in the early years, started when he was in the mother’s womb (Genesis 25:22-26), where he grasped his brother Esau’s heel. Later on Jacob tricked Esau to get his right as a firstborn son, and their father Isaac’s blessings (Genesis 27:19-20).
Jacob paid the price when Esau tried to kill him, and he fled. On his way to Harran, at Bethel, Jacob had the first encounter with God (Genesis 28:10-17). At that point, Jacob realized that God is not only his father’s God, but is also HIS God. At Bethel, God promised Jacob two things: 1. to be with him and watch over him; 2. to bring him back to this land.
As we know, Jacob eventually went to his uncle, Laban, in Paddan Aram. There he worked for Laban for 20 years for his two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Laban was cruel to Laban, and Jacob was fear for his life. Then God spoke to him (Genesis 31:1-3). Again God told Jacob two things: 1. God will be with him; 2. to go back to the land of your father. So Jacob fled with his family and possessions, and he had his second encounter with God (Genesis 32:22-28). Jacob wrestled with God and God gave him a new name. “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28). Israel means ‘may God prevail’ and it was a new beginning for Jacob.
After Jacob left his uncle Laban’s cruel control, and was at peace with his brother Esau, they decided to stay at Shechem, as it seemed to be a good place to settle, despite that God actually told him to go back to his father’s land. At Schechem, Jacob’s daughter was violated, which led to a massacre by Jacob’s sons. God spoke to Jacob again during this time (Genesis 35:1-4) to 1. go up to Bethel and settle there; 2. get rid of the foreign gods; 3. change your clothes. At this point, Jacob was terribly frightened that the other Cannanites would retaliate, after what happened to Schechem. So he followed God’s guiding. It often takes a crisis to keep us continue to seek God and walking in His perfect Will.
After going around in a big circle, many years later, Jacob finally arrived Bethel (Genesis 35:9-13).
We all reassemble Jacob in a certain way, but from his story, we see that God has never left Jacob, and His heart for Jacob has always been the same. Sometimes maybe it’s not a bad thing that we have not yet reached where God wants us to be, because throughout the journey, we see Jacob changed, overcome, and triumphed. Through God, nothing is impossible, and may the story of Jacob encourage to never give us. God will eventually show us the way out.