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Jacob's Return to Canaan

(Genesis 32:9-11,24-30; 33:1-4)

Lesson 10 -- third quarter 1999
August 8, 1999

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1999, Christian Light Publications

What a difference between the Jacob leaving Canaan and the Jacob returning to Canaan! Back then he tried to bargain himself into God's favor and blessing: "If you will do this and that for me (as well as the other thing), I will serve you. Oh, and I'll even give you a tenth of whatever you give me." I wonder if he thought God would exclaim, "What a deal!"

Now he comes to the Lord, in a tight spot and with an agonizing request, and he doesn't try to strike a deal. Listen to Jacob now: "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant." What a difference, alright! And by the time the night was over, the name change clinched the whole matter. The swindler had become a prince; Jacob had surrendered to God and had become Israel.

So we want to say that Jacob finally came to his senses, finally realized the absurdity of trying to somehow offer God a bargain He couldn't refuse. We might even say that Jacob on his way away from home had a lot of gall in his relationship to God. But what about us?

May God deliver us from the self-exalted spirit that would pretend to stipulate the conditions under which we will follow Him! "If You make me happy and successful, if You allow me sufficient freedoms, if You grant me the social and romantic desires of my heart, and if You subdue my opponents and detractors...or even if You do just one or two of the above...then I will serve You." May we instead clearly see the exquisite privilege it is to serve Him, regardless of what we may or may not receive from His hand. May we so love Him that obedient service comes naturally...and very unconditionally. You see, "The LORD is my portion, saith my soul" (Lamentations 3:24). I shall not dare bargain for "more."

Consider all the mercies the Lord has heaped upon in His unmatched generosity. Can you name the half? Do you think you are aware of even half? Now try identifying the least significant of those mercies. Do you think you are worthy of even that much? And to consider that "they are new every morning" (Lamentations 3:23)!

OK, so we realize we don't deserve all the mercies of the Lord. We are ready to say, "I will serve Thee because I love Thee" and will establish no further conditions to our service. But what about our attitude regarding what we know?

Jacob also recognized he was not worthy of the least all the truth which the Lord had shown Him. He would not take for granted what he had learned about God and His ways. He would not hold his heritage in low esteem. What about us? Have truth and heritage become so common and second-nature to us that we disregard them in the daily practice of our faith? May the Lord refresh in us a sense of unworthiness for these great blessings to us from His hand!

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