December 29, 2021
This is the last post for 2021. A huge thank you to all who have prayed with us for our prodigals each Wednesday! Together we have weathered this year with all its trials, setbacks, and uncertainties.
The year’s end is often a good time to examine our lives in the light of God’s presence and then adjust our lives to better reflect what God desires.
In what condition would you like to meet your Savior?
In our Hebrews 11 character study, Jacob is our next focus, and the condition of his heart as he went out to meet God is a model for all of us. Despite the many ups and downs of his life (and the downs were more prevalent), in the end he did what God desires of each of us — he worshiped!
“By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff” (Hebrews 11:21).
Blessing your family at the time of your death was not uncommon in Jewish culture; it was a way of providing for your family. This act of blessing in Genesis 49 was Jacob’s way of caring for the future of his sons and their tribes. This picture of an aged, Spirit-led, godly father pronouncing blessings on his sons is beautiful.
Jacob began life quite differently. When his mother Rebecca gave birth, his twin Esau was born first with Jacob holding onto his heel as they came into the world. So Jacob’s name reflected his actions: heel grabber/deceiver. In a culture where names had special prophetic significance, this was not a good label to start life with. Sadly it held true for a good portion of his early life — until he was transformed, until he had an encounter with God.
After years of running, years of hiding, lying, and pretending, he wrestled with an angel of God who renamed him Israel (Genesis 32). Instead of being labeled a deceiver, he was now an overcomer (Genesis 32:28). Even his walk was changed because the angel touched the socket of his hip and caused him to walk with a limp. This forever marked him as different.
This place of wrestling, of overcoming, of complete change was called Peniel. It was there that he saw God face to face (Genesis 32:30). His heart was transformed, and from that day forward, he never was the same.
However, there were difficult years of family fighting. His sons tricked him into believing that his beloved son Joseph died, when they had actually sold him into slavery. How awful this must have been for Jacob! He spent years and years grieving for him, until, near the end of his life, they were reunited.
And at the old age of 147, before he took his last breath, Jacob worshiped his God (Genesis 47:28). What an amazing way to finish life! I honestly can’t think of any better way to spend the last day!
Worship is what God desires from each of us. At Jacob’s well, the Lord Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman and said, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23).
Our heavenly Father is deserving of our worship. He created us. He gave His only Son to this godless world. He allowed His Son to be nailed to a cross for our redemption. He continually cares for us each day. He is the very best Father, and without Him we would be nothing.
Worship is an act of faith. This is what the Hebrew writer said. “By faith Jacob…bowing in worship.” What we worship is what we put our confidence in. God desires to be the focus and center of our hearts. When He has first place, we trust Him to be all He says He is!
Worship will be a blessing to others. A heart of worship is the necessary condition to most benefit others. When you are in fellowship with God and enjoying your walk with Him, the result will overflow to the lives of those around you. This is what happened to Jacob and his family.
Lastly, worship involves our whole person. “By faith Jacob, when dying…bowing in worship over the head of his staff.” Worship involves more than just our words. It is the posture of the heart and is often visible in the posture of our bodies. Jacob was leaning over his staff as he worshiped his God.
William Temple, a highly esteemed theologian of the 20th century, penned these words on the subject of worship: “Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of the conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose—all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.”
May God help us to live our lives for Him so that when we come to the end, we leave this life as true worshipers of the living God.
Happy New Year!
Bryan and Rachel