Jacob is well on his way to becoming Israel. We’ve seen tremendous progress in his spiritual journey. When we think back to his selfishly, despicable treatment of his brother Esau and his father Isaac earlier in his life, it is amazing the changes that God has worked in his life.
Reconciling with Laban was nothing compared to making amends with Esau, but both are necessary before Jacob is ready to enter the land as Israel. And just when we think he’s arrived, Jacob starts to show up again, doing things his way, settling for “close enough”. At this point in the story, his partial obedience doesn’t appear to be a big deal, but trust me it is. We will see the disastrous consequences of it in living color next week.
Partial obedience is disobedience. It’s a symptom of our failure to trust God…fully. It whispers, “you can call the shots, you don’t need anyone else telling you what to do”. It’s evidence of our sinful rebellion against our Creator God. Not unlike Adam and Eve in the garden. So when we fail to do what God asks us…we compromise on the things He’s clearly revealed to us through His Word and through His Spirit’s work in our lives, it doesn’t matter that “it’s only a little white lie” or that “everybody’s doing it” or “it’s ok because we’re in love” or “it’s only wrong if you get caught” we are living in disobedience. We’re repeating the sin of the garden, saying we know better than God what is good. And the consequences of our rebellion are sure to come.
But the good news is…Jacob is well on his way to becoming Israel. He’s made great strides in trusting God more and more. And though he still has a ways to go, God’s not done with him yet. He’s a work in progress. And so are we. We too have been given a new name…child of God. Though we often fall short in our obedience, fail to live fully in our new identity, His grace is still at work in our lives. He’s shaping and molding us into the image of His Son. He’s calling us to trust Him more fully, more completely. Jacob’s struggle to become Israel is an Old Testament picture of the believer’s struggle to walk in the Spirit.
Maybe you haven’t taken that initial step in trusting God yet. Today is the day that you could do that. Your life will be forever changed…the Bible describes it as passing from death to life, transferring from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of His beloved Son. By believing that Jesus, the One whom God promised to send to rescue us way back in Genesis 3.15, the Head-Crushing Seed of the woman, really did come and live a perfect life, die a bloody, horrible death, was raised the third day conquering both sin and death and crushing the head of the serpent, we could be reconciled to our Creator God, experiencing peace with Him and living in His kingdom forever…returning to paradise.
May we be a people, living in His grace, letting go of half-hearted attempts at obedience and learning to trust Him more and more.
Until next time…stay salty.