Teacher: Chancellor Roger J. Magnuson
Topic: Describe the principle lesson you believe God wants to teach us by choosing a person like Jacob (supplanter) as the father of His chosen people (Israel), giving special attention to each divine visitation in his life and describe: the spiritual significance of each of those visitations, and how the sanctification process relates to the contemporary expression of “letting go and letting God” in connection with Jacob’s calling, describe the importance of “flocks” to the contemporary economy, and trace the existence of Jacob’s sheep into the present clay.
People sometimes think God chooses people randomly just to show He can do whatever He wants to do, and doesn’t need to be summoned to the bar of good sense.
- Puzzle—Why in the world did God choose Jacob to be the father of the nation that spiritually represents the church? Why did God become the God of Jacob? That possessive pronoun, that possessive article “of,” why is it applied to Jacob? As though God would want to be identified with Jacob. There are many times that we read, not “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” but just “God of Jacob.” Jacob is a scoundrel, a schemer; he’s prepared to conspire, to lie, to deceive his very own father at the end of his life, to, by stealth and shrewdness, bargain away from his brother, a valuable birthright, and to steal from his brother a valuable blessing. Why is God the God of Jacob? Is it a demonstration of the old maxim, a three-ton elephant can sit wherever he wants to?
- Purpose—(Transformative) In justification, there is a disconnect between what we are and what God treats us to be: He declares us righteous in Christ, contrary to fact. But people say not to expect sin quotient to go down when we are saved. Yes, God does impute righteousness, but He also imparts righteousness. He looks at us through the blood of Christ, seeing us as if we’d never sinned, but He also imparts righteousness, doing a transformation in our lives. God always has a transformative purpose.
- Power—People, whenever possible, credit things to their own resolve and power. But when God does the supernatural in transformation, then people say, “God did it.” That’s what God wants. That is why He takes Jacob, a loser, and molds him into something beautiful for Him.
- Prerequisite—You gotta want it! You gotta want it BADLY! Anybody is curable, no matter what the rehabilitation program is; but everyone agrees that you can’t get it unless you really want it. So Jacob has lots of defects and deficiencies: it would fill a book. But one thing he is not deficient in is desire, competitive fire. He is not lacking in the desire to get it, to have it, and to keep it. The problem in Jacob’s life is the “it,” what he wants. Once the “it” has changed, this scoundrel becomes a beautiful saint.
- Places—Beersheba, Bethel, Padan-aram, Haren (where he meets Esau), settles in Hebron with his family, and ultimately he ends up in Egypt. In the process of going from place to place, God is showing His transformative purpose in his life. In that process, that parade of places, there are several different aspects along the way station to God’s perfect plan to Jacob’s life:
- Supplanter—That is Beersheba. Supplanter means one who grabs by the heel; he grabbed Esau by the heel when he was being born, as if to say “I want to get out of here first.”
- Servant—Padan-aram. God has to beat out of Jacob some character defects, by putting him under Laban, a man as scheming and crooked as he.
- Saint—in Hebron. Through service and some other elements, the supplanter has become the saint.
- Seer—in Egypt. Here Jacob looks at his children, sees what is going to happen to them, sees their destiny, the destiny of the nation.
- Pictures—Two names and two visions, illustrate God’s redemptive program:
- Names—He begins as Jacob, suggesting he’s a supplanter. He wants to get things he’s not entitled to. He wants to push others down and exalt himself. He pulls back Esau and noses him out in the competitive game of life. It’s interesting that that isn’t his last name. Names relate to character in the Bible, and when God changes a person’s character, He often changes their names (Abraham, Sarah, Paul). Jacob’s new name is Israel, which means “wrestles with God.” What has not changed is desire: he still “wants it.” But now, he dedicates the same enlightened self- interest, the same tenacity, not with man, but with God. “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Now he is seeking “it” from God, not from man. He always had a good sense of value; he wanted the birthright and blessing, because he saw their spiritual significance in God’s redemptive program. But he had chosen to acquire in a humanistic way those spiritual things.
- Justification—First, the vision at Bethel: justification. He flees the jurisdiction that he might be safe from Esau, who desires to kill him. Here, while sleeping, passive, he understands that God’s angels are caring for Him. He basically places his trust in God, and says, “If you keep me and preserve me, I’m yours.” Justification is a passive reception.
- Sanctification—Peniel. He’s wrestling hard with this guy. He grabs on and says, “I’m not letting you go unless I get a blessing from you.” That’s the kind of boldness that mythological gods would not like, that modern Christians might not approve of (let go, and let God!) Even with the excruciating pain of the dislocated hip, he was not going to let him go. He wasn’t willing to let God go.
- Priority—Jacob is the last of this redemptive triad; there are many redemptive triads in Bible (Joseph: vision, slave, realization of vision) (Abraham: key vision, Isaac, replica of father; fulfillment through Jacob) (Creation, destruction, supernatural fulfillment in Revelation). C.S. Lewis in Screwtape Proposes a Toast, has one of the chief servants of Satan said, “We’re not getting the same quality of sinners we used to get.” Satan says, “That’s ok, we want lots of mediocre people. Because when God gets someone like a Stalin, who’s not mediocre, then they really do a lot for Him.”
- Concept— God is a spiritual capitalist. God makes investments, and He wants returns on them. What you would want on an investor or a CEO, He wants in you and me. He clearly makes the point throughout the Bible (parable of talents, etc. He is looking for return, and He will grant rewards). “Labor to make your calling and election sure.” “Strait is the gate and narrow is the way…”
- Corrective—God incentivizes things He wants, and disincentivizes things that He doesn’t want. He always gives a reason to do something, or to avoid doing something. God explains the blessings for doing obedience, and curses for disobedience (as seen in Deuteronomy 28). Repent, or you will all likewise perish.
- Challenge—If you’re going to be a pastor, etc., be a spiritual capitalist. Want service and soul-winning so bad you can taste it.