From a human perspective, the family history of the patriarchs is fraught with deception and dysfunction. Although God had providentially selected Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to further His plan to build the nation that would produce the Messiah, these men were still merely human. Their humanness may seem to have challenged or even thwarted God’s plan, but no person’s actions can upset the will of God. He is sovereign, and His will always prevails. Jacob was forced to flee his father’s house because of his own conniving. “Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, ‘The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob'” (Genesis 27:41). So Jacob found succor at his uncle Laban’s house just after God repeated the promise He made to Jacob’s ancestors. While there, Jacob fell deeply in love with Laban’s younger daughter, Rachel, and Laban agreed to allow Jacob to work for him for seven years to earn Rachel’s hand in marriage. “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her”(Genesis 29:20). Jacob truly loved Rachel. On their wedding night, in a shocking act of manipulation, Laban switched his firstborn daughter, Leah, for his secondborn and Jacob’s intended wife, Rachel. So Jacob labored seven additional years for Laban to finally give Rachel as his wife. Family drama was a constant companion to Jacob, but God continued to work and continued nation-building. Jacob was blessed with twelve sons. Eventually, the Lord told Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you” (Genesis 31:3). So Jacob went home to Canaan with his wives, sons, livestock, and all his possessions. The night before Jacob arrived in the land of his ancestors, he experienced a pivotal moment in his faith. Having sent his family and servants ahead of him, “Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him” (Genesis 32:24-25). The Man Jacob wrestled turned out to be God Himself, and Jacob would not let go of God until He blessed him. Jacob had demanded blessing from his earthly father, Isaac. He had demanded blessing from his brother, Esau. And now he demanded blessing from his heavenly Father. God replied, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed” (v. 28). God gave Jacob His blessing as Jacob surrendered to Him.  The best day of your life is when you stop fighting against God and instead fight with God—when you surrender. The question isn’t, “Is God on my side?” The question is, “Am I on God’s side?” It’s a question one of Jacob’s sons learned to ask as he endured various trials on the way to attaining unimaginable favor and blessing from the Lord.
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