Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Epiphany through Crisis 1/05/2013
On January 6th, the church celebrates Ephiphany, which commorates the visit of the Wisemen who followed the star from the east in order to find the One who was born the King of the Jews. This word is defined as meaning "a showing of a supernatural or divine reality," or a great or sudden revelation. This commemoration is applied to the revealing of Christ to the Gentiles throught the visit of the Magi, The Wisemen.

In our text from the first book of the Bible, Genesis, chapter 32, we observe Jacob seeking to be reunited with his brother Esau who had vowed to kill Jacob for taking the first born blessing from him. It had been many years since he had left his home area and now as he sought to meet his brother he was full of fear and worry. But he wished to be reconciled with his twin brother. This meeting was going to turn out to be one of the defining moments of his life as one of God's children.

As we learn from those who have gone before, may we be given the ability to apply these lessons into our lives today so that we may as much as is possible live at peace with all people. May we be able to say with the Psalmist David, "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Do I, do you need an epiphany from God?

May the grace mercy and peace from God our Father and His Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you today and forever, Amen.

Nature teaches us many lessons of life and of the workings of God in our lives. We see that when it is the appropriate time that the eagle begins to break up the nest, the eaglets must wonder what is going on. As the next disappears, they are forced to take flight, which at first does not go very well, but the watchful eagle soars below them to catch them each time they fall until they soar on their own.

Jacob had lived 20 years in a strange land, he was becoming comfortable in the strange land he lived in and his family was becoming affected or would be, so it was time to have his nest stirred up.

This stirring can come in various ways: A stirring by the Holy Spirit, a feeling of restlessness, changing of outward circumstances such as economic distress, diminishing support for one and their family, with all these often times being orchestrated by God so that He may bring one into a place of a greater knowledge and experience of His love and care in the forgiveness of our sin.. He often times needs to change our physical location in order to give us the ability to be able to cling to him rather than resist him. We resist Him by continuing to cling to our own abilities and do not cling to Him as He wishes we would do. Often times what is needed is a crisis of some sort in order to make a major change in our attitudes and behaviors.

In the case of Jacob, we see the seeds of this crisis are sown in the 31st chapter of Genesis.

KJV Genesis 31:1 And he heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father's; and of that which was our father's hath he gotten all this glory.
2 And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.
3 And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.

Here a very brief summary of the life of Jacob would be appropriate to consider.

Jacob and Esau
It was prophesied that the older, Esau, would serve the younger, Jacob.
Esau sold his birthright to Jacob
Jacob and his mom tricked Esau out of the first born blessing.

As a result, Esau looked for the day to get even with Jacob by killing him. Rebekah, their mother told Jacob to go away and she would let him know when Esau's anger would be not longer against him. Genesis 27:45

Rebekah did not want Jacob to marry one from Canaanites, shared this with Isaac and he counseled his son to not marry from the Canaanites, but to go to find a wife in the land where his uncle Laban lived. Jacob listened to this counsel and went accordingly, but Esau watching all this went to find a wife from the tribe of Ishmael as if to spite his father.

Along the way Jacob lay down to sleep and had a dream through which he was encouraged by the Lord of His faithfulness and that all that He had promised in the life of Jacob would come to pass. I place here a portion of that meeting in the dream...

Genesis 28:10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. {Haran: Gr. Charran}
11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. {spread...: Heb. break forth}
15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

He then met Rachel, worked seven years in order marry her, but on the wedding night, her sister was sent into the marriage chamber which Jacob discovered in the morning. He was told that he would have to work another seven years for Rachel, which he did and he married her while Leah remained his handmaiden. For Laban said, "In our country, it is not right to give the younger before the firstborn."

He fathered children through Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah,and Rachel, grew very rich and then came the time to return home and to the land of Esau.

Now Jacob obeys the command of the Lord to return to his homeland, where his brother Esau lives........On the way, he was strengthened by angels...the host of God

KJV Genesis 32:1 And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
2 And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim. {Mahanaim: that is, Two hosts, or, camps}

KJV Genesis 27:45 Until thy brother's anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?

Was his brother still out to get him? That we do not know, so Jacob acts accordingly, by showing his willingness to reconcile with his brother through the offering of gifts.

3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom. {country: Heb. field}
4 And 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:
5 And 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.

The messengers returned with the news that Esau was coming to meet him with a whole bunch of men, which caused fear and distress to Jacob. He concocted a plan to make the best out of a potentially poor situatiion.

6 And 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.
7 Then 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;
8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.

Jacob prayed, remembering the Promise.
9 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:

Considered himself as unworthy before God
10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.

Asked the Lord for His deliverance
11 Deliver 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. {with: Heb. upon}
12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

Jacob prayed, then planned....
13 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother;
14 Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams,
15 Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.
16 And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove.
17 And 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?
18 Then 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.
19 And 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.
20 And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant 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. {of me: Heb. my face}
21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.
22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.
23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.

Like anyone of us, he had prayed, but what was his motive in making all the plans to go to meet Esau. Was he making himself a backup plan? Maybe he was, like any of us do and will do due to our inability to trust God in all things. But wait, what happens next?

In the Night, Alone
24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

The conflict was initiated by the 'man', and not by Jacob. God came to him in his solitude. He was there alone and the 'man' came to him. Are there yet things that the Lord wants to show us that are idols in our heart and he wants to take them from us? Things that we are clinging to through which we trust in ourselves.

Peter was told by Jesus that he had gone through this experience, that when he was young he did what he wanted to do, but now in his later years, he is carried about by Another.

John 21:18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

When God wants to bring us into a greater place of dependence upon Him, He may choose to touch us someplace or in an area that will cause us to quit resisting and to begin to cling to Him.

Jacob would not quit fighting, his thigh was touched, and Jacob begin to cling rather than fight. He yielded to the Lord. Oh, Lord, what sinew is causing me to think that I can stand by myself? Oh, Lord, show me, take it from me, open my eyes.....

25 And 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.
26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

The name Jacob means supplanter, heel holder
28 And 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. {Israel: that is, A prince of God}

29 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.
30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. {Peniel: that is, The face of God}
31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.
32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank.

Jacob was fearful of his brother Esau, he remembered God's promise in a historical sense, but a crisis was necessary to bring him to a place of personal need for the promises of God.

Then what happened? What is the rest of the story?

KJV Genesis 33:1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.
2 And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.
3 And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.

We cannot miss the reality that initially he was in the background, but now he set all others aside and went forward to meet his brother, Esau. The crisis in the night had its fruit with Jacob. He went forth to meet his brother as a forgiven sinner and therefore had nothing to hide but wanted to restore his relationship with his brother. He no longer needed to hide. Oh, Lord, open up to us the lessons that are needful for us through the life of Jacob and Esau.........Show us, dear Lord, of the awfulness of fear, of pride, of isolation, of scheming, etc, and show us the beauty of love as it is demonstrated through openness, transparency, and honesty in our relationships.

Early this morning, my wife woke me and said that the furnace is not working. As I checked it out, I discovered that it would start and then stop. In this cold, we were quite concerned so I began to check into it and found out that that igniter had become covered by a substance that caused the main burner to flame only a few seconds. and then it would go out. After cleaning the igniter rod, the furnace began to work normally. A crisis was needed to force me to deal with the situation.

God must bring us to a place of crisis to be able to truly reveal Himself to us. This is when faith takes hold of His Promise, that we are forgiven because of Christ's obedience, for His promise never fails. We should never progress beyond our need to hear that God has forgiven us in Christ. Growing in grace is coming to a greater need of our reliance on the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

Life is a long struggle against the love of God, but God is merciful and gracious in his dealings with us. Sometimes only some sort of crisis in our life will He be able to cause us to stop clinging to self and cause us to cling to Him more and more, namely that we are forgiven through Christ being our Saviour. We must resist the tendency to think that we outgrow our need of forgiveness of our sins through faith in Christ.

It is His intention for our lives, that as life goes on, we cling more and more to
Him and His Promise of eternal life through the forgiveness of our sin, so that in view of eternity we can say with the Psalmist, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

May His grace be upon you today and always,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 05 Jan 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Cross of Christ 2.25.2018
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns