Torah Portion for week 8: Genesis 32:4 – 36:43
Vayishlach (And he sent)
How would you react if I told you that you are about to have a face to face encounter with God? Shock, fear, disbelief, excitement? Whatever it might be, today in our text we are about to experience such an encounter.
In this week’s Torah portion we meet Jacob at a crucial turning point in his life. Twenty years have passed since the beginning of our last weekly reading portion where we met Jacob fleeing from Esau in fear of his life after he had robbed him of both his birthright and his father’s blessing. These have not been easy years for Jacob, but something is about to change; there is a great lesson and encouragement in this for all of us.
But there is a problem – Jacob now has to face the mistakes and wrongdoings of his past and meet face to face with Esau his brother. Like Jacob, we also have points in life where we have to face our past mistakes! It is in this moment of despair that Jacob prays to God in brokenness. In Genesis 32:9-11 we read:
And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children.”
Jacob is now ready to meet Messiah Yeshua face to face as he confesses with his own mouth, “I am not worthy.”
A few verses later (Gen 32:24-31), we read:
And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.
Jacob comes out of his encounter with Messiah Yeshua a changed man with a new name, and limping. After years of striving with man and God in his flesh, Jacob finally surrenders and is ready to become Israel, the father of the Jewish nation, and to experience the fullness of God’s blessing as recorded in Genesis 35:11-12: “And God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.’”
Can’t we all relate to Jacob and testify that, in our lives also, it was when we felt unworthy and in defeat from our own mistakes and striving with God, that Messiah Yeshua met us, touched us in his love, and changed us?
What a powerful lesson and a great encouragement for us today. Do you feel defeated or in fear and despair? Messiah Yeshua is the one whom God the Father sent as the ultimate king and descendant of Jacob to meet our own needs and touch us; even in our weakness, described in the text as limping, God can do great and mighty things.
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