Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Scheming instead of Trusting

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You." (Genesis 28:20-22)

The “new birth” in the Old Testament

I believe that Old Testament saints all had personal dealings with God at some point in their lives when they became true worshipers of Jehovah.  Just as New Testament saints must be “born again,” the same was true for Old Testament saints.  The truths that were understood with regard to Jehovah may have been more limited, but the need to trust in the Lord and to develop a personal relationship with Him was just as real.  I believe Jacob had that personal experience here.

Consecration after the “new birth”

Jacob had another experience in Genesis 32 where He wrestled with God.  It was in Genesis 32 that His name was changed so it could be argued that He wasn’t truly saved until that experience.  However, I think that for Jacob and for many of us there is a point where we trust in the Lord and a later time in our lives when we wrestle with God and need to be “brought down” to be truly yielded to God.  It is after this experience of consecration that we are truly blessed.  Romans 12 describes the need for consecration on the part of one who is truly saved.  We are only “born again” once but we are not really useful to the Lord until we have presented our bodies living sacrifices.  For some people this may happen the moment they are saved.  For many of us it didn’t happen until later.  For some it happens more than once, for some it doesn’t happen at all.

Can we Bargain with God?

Was Jacob bargaining with God when he uses the word“ if” in his promise to the Lord to give Him a tenth if He actually fulfills the promise He has made to him?  I don’t think so.  Jacob was running from Esau, the brother that he had deceived.  I am sure that when he left the land of Israel to go to Padanaram, he assumed he would never be able to come back unless his brother Esau died.   Even then Esau’s descendants might be a problem.  Yet, the Lord was telling him that he would come back.  If Jacob did not come back, He didn’t need a God on this earth to protect him, keep him and bring him back.  But if God did all that He was promising Jacob, then Jacob would be able to worship God once again at Bethel and in the land.  I know that the language seems to make his worship of Jehovah conditional but I think the only conditional part of Jacob’s promise had to do with whether he would come back to worship God in the land and at Bethel.  When he got back into the land, God would be able to be worshiped in the right way and God would be able to function as Jacob’s God in a public way. 

An example of this type of language is seen in 2 Corinthians 6:17-18. Basically the passage says to separate from unbelievers so that God can be our Father and we can be His sons and daughters.  However, we became sons and daughters of God when we received the Lord and were adopted into God’s family.  But when we separate from unbelievers we allow God to function as our Father.  In much the same way Jacob was saying that God would be functioning as His God if all this happened and he was brought back to the land. 

Confession and Consecration

In Genesis 32, he wrestles with God about this same matter and this is where he has to yield his strength to God’s promises. Part of his consecration was a confession of sin.  When Isaac asked Jacob his name, he had answered that he was Esau.  When God asks him his name, he says it is Jacob.  Jacob means supplanter or one who takes another’s place by intrigue or scheming.  Some say the name means deceiver.  So while Jacob was giving his rightful name, he was also acknowledging who he really was.  He walks with a marked and different walk after that encounter with God. 

Trust and Obey

God used all of Jacob’s scheming to accomplish his promises to Abraham and to the nation.  But I am convinced that God could have fulfilled his promises to Abraham without any help at all from Jacob.  I wonder how often we scheme to get what we want when in fact we just need to “trust and obey.” We need to let the Lord function as our God.  After all, that is what He wants to do.

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of January 12, 2014

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