In reading this chapter, I was struck by the fact that God held Jacob’s feet to the fire… God held Jacob accountable for his promises. Back in chapter 28, when Jacob was in a pinch, he made a promise to God.
Gen 28:20-22 (NKJV)
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
Guess what? Everything Jacob vowed – all the “if God will… then I will…” – came true. God was faithful to completely deliver in it. Now it was time for Jacob to hold up his end – even 20 years later. It could be that Jacob forgot about his vow. It had been 20 years since he made it. It could be that Jacob was just continuing to live out his M.O. of deceiving and that he never had any intention of going back. That was what his name meant. His whole life was built around deception and scheming: Esau’s birthright; Esau’s blessing; his wives – he was deceived this time; his fortune of sheep from Laban;
Jacob may have forgotten about his vow – but God did not forget. Jacob may have intended to scam God – but God had other intentions. Not only did God remind Jacob to go back to that place, he enabled him to do so by prevented Jacob’s enemies from attacking him(Gen 35:5); blessed him again; and changed his name (again) to Israel (Gen 35:9-14). This was the second time God had changed his name to Israel (see Gen 32:28). He confirmed the change of his name from from Jacob (which means “Deceiver, or Schemer”) to Israel (which means “God prevails”).
Isn’t that just like God? He wants to bless us, just like any good Father would… but he also wants to teach us to be men of integrity… to finish what we start… to fulfill our commitments and vows… to be men of Honor…. no matter how long ago we made the promise. He wants us to recognize and know that HE WILL PREVAIL.
We’ve all done it. We’ve all send up those requests to God. Something like: “God, if you’ll just ___(Fill in the blank)___ then I will ___(Fill in the blank)___.” I know I’m guilty of it. I imagine we all are.
Challenge: Ask Father what vows are unfulfilled in your life.
Daddy, I open myself to you. I ask you to show me any unfulfilled promise I’ve made to You or anyone else that I need to make right, so I might be a man if Integrity, a man of Honor, the man you want me to be.
Running After Papa…