I will not let you go unless you bless me!
Should Christians be seeking some “blessing” or “prosperity” for themselves? Certainly, I would never decline a blessing from God – provided that I understood its value to me. But should I be spending my “fervent prayer” time (James 5:16) seeking things for myself? Is that what a “righteous man” would pray for?
These are some really difficult questions and ardent supporters present various viewpoints. Some would argue “We have every right to demand whatever God has promised.” I am not certain that I agree with “demanding” anything from God. But even if the argument is true, it would not support Jacob’s demand.
In Gen 32:9-12, Jacob reminded God of His promise. But in verse 9 and again in verse 12, he (mis)quoted God, “But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper.'” Believing that God has PROMISED to prosper His children is a comfortable and popular attitude among Christians today (and in the past).
It seems that almost every TV preacher offers some form of prosperity doctrine. There is even a “Bless Me Network” where you call on the phone and pay a dollar per minute to talk to someone in the clergy who will “bless you.” (If you are interested, just click on the logo to the right.)
That was the principal issue presented by Job’s “friends.” Eliphaz told Job that God would never allow His sons suffer (Job 5:19-27). But, in Job 42:7, God told Eliphaz “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”
God did NOT tell Jacob (or Eliphaz), “I will surely make you prosper.” At Bethel, Jacob saw the ladder/stairway leading up to heaven and heard the voice of the LORD. And although God did prosper Jacob during the ensuing 20 years (“unworthy” as he was, cf., Gen. 32:10), there was no explicit statement that God would do such a thing. Here is a list of the promises that God gave Jacob at Bethel (Gen 28:10-15):
- I will give you & your descendents the land on which you are lying
- Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, spread from the East to the West & from the North to the South
- All the people on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring
- I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go
- I will bring you back to this land
- I will not leave you until I have done what I promised
God’s blessing was to all the people on earth but Jacob was only concerned with HIS SHARE of God’s blessing. God said that Jacob’s destiny was, that through him and his descendants God would be a blessing to all the people on earth.
But Jacob was more concerned with RECEIVING a blessing than he was with being a blessing. Jesus said it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). He (Jesus) came to serve – not to be served (Mt 20:28). But Jesus also told us that we are not greater than He (John 13:16).
Jacob’s DESTINY was to be a CONDUIT of Blessing! However, he had to be broken (hip out of joint & his character had to change) before he could fulfill that destiny.
Jacob’s name was changed to Israel to reflect the fact that he was now a prince with God & that “God had prevailed.” His walked with a limp to remind him that he could no longer rely on his own strength. Now he had to trust in God. He was a prince with power but the strength of a prince is available only because he is related to the King.
What must happen in my life in order that I will fulfill the destiny that God has for me? My name has already been changed. I now bear the name of Christ (as a CHRISTian) to reflect the fact that I have been adopted as a child of the King (I am now a prince). But, will I have to suffer before I learn to depend upon God’s strength rather than my own? Maybe I should be praying for God to wrench my hip out of joint – instead of demanding that He “bless me.”
What about YOU? Leave a comment below.