When Faith Strikes Out

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FROM THE MIND OF WEBSTER

Dying – passing from physical life.
Blessing – conferring prosperity or happiness upon.
Worshipping – regarding with great or extravagant respect, reverence, honor, or devotion.

BACKSTORY

Strike One (Conniving)Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. (Genesis 25:29-33)

Strike Two (Deceiving)But he [Isaac] said [to Esau], “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.” Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” (Genesis 27:35, 36)

Strike Three (Bribing)For he [Jacob] thought, “I will pacify him [Esau] with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp. (Genesis 32:20, 21)

Adjusting His Swing (Overcoming)After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:23-24, 26-28)

Home Run (Swinging for Home)And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” (Genesis 35:11, 12)

OTHER PEOPLE’S MUSING

Israel, was the name that God gave Jacob after he wrestled with the divine messenger. Afterwards Jacob was a changed person, with a new faith experience with God that influenced the way he lived. His 12 sons became known as the “sons of Israel,” and the resulting nation became the nation of Israel.(1) Later on, nearing his death, weak in body, but strong in faith, Jacob blessed Joseph, and each of his sons.(2) The main point is that Jacob, despite the shakiness of his faith at the beginning of his life, was firm in his faith at the end of his life, worshipping God and passing along the blessing he had received from God. In his blessings for Joseph’s two sons (48:8–22), he looked ahead to the future.(3)

MY MUSING

We all have times in our lives when we strike out with our faith. But that need not be the end of the game. We can learn that faith in any other means (e.g. deceiving, conniving, bribing) is not a shortcut to God’s blessings in our lives, but rather a long detour. We can still get back on track and receive God’s favor. Jacob (Israel- struggled, overcome) did. So did Simon (Peter – the rock), the man who denied Jesus three times. Like Israel, Peter was given another at “at bat,” ending his life by circling the bases.

  1. Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Israel. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 844). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  2. Poole, M. (1853). Annotations upon the Holy Bible (Vol. 3, p. 864). New York: Robert Carter and Brothers.
  3. Tanner, J. P. (2010). The Epistle to the Hebrews. In R. N. Wilkin (Ed.), The Grace New Testament Commentary (p. 1083). Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society.

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