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Remember your Father Jacob

Remember Your Father Jacob!

 

What, or who was Israel ?

 

The name "Israel" was never given to identify any one race or culture.
"Israel" was a title originally given by God to identify a person who had accepted His invitation to turn from self-worship to reflecting God's love in a sin sick world.

 

What does "Israel" mean?
Originally, "Israel" was a title conferred on Jacob after he repented of his sinful nature and made his peace with God. The word "Israel" meant "over-comer," or "a prince with God."

 

Genesis 32:22-32 tells us that after a night of fighting and resisting God's messenger, Jacob finally overcame his own stubbornness, and confessed what "Jacob" really was. It was only after he confessed and repented of his self-centered righteousness, that the angel of the Lord conferred on him the honored title of "Israel." Jacob had "struggled with God and with men" all his life. Genesis 32:28. What did he overcome now? Did he overcome God? Never! Scripture is clear that he finally overcame his own stubborn and self-righteous nature.

 

When the desperate Jacob clung to the angel and said, "I will not let you go until you bless me" (v. 26), the angel came straight to the point and asked him, "What is your name?" In other words, when you look into the mirror of your soul, Jacob, what do you see? A life of deception, and fraud, and shrewdness stared him in the face.

 

He had been a swindler who lied to his father, cheated his brother and was a ruthless businessman. Now, fearing that he was also on the verge of permanently separating himself from God, he faced the truth. His pride cracked as he confessed his desperate and naked state. He finally overcame his self-righteous pride. At that moment, as he opened his heart, his guilt and sin were gone. The old Jacob was dead. Israel was born. He was a new man, a "prince with God." Repentance was a pre-requisite to receiving the title "Israel."

 

No person ever inherited that title! The true Israel is distinguished from the impostors by their repentance and acceptance of the Lord as Jacob did. Anyone claiming to be an Israelite while avoiding Jesus, who is the Door to the kingdom of God, is described in John 10, verses 1 and 7 as a thief and a robber. For the account of Jacob's repentance and conversion from the old Jacob, to being named the first Israelite, see Genesis 32: 22-32 and 35:9-13.

 

Just as the term "church" has been misconstrued and through common usage has been applied to an organization, or to a building, so also the title "Israel" had been secularized, and misapplied to a race, or a culture. There always was, and there remains a vast difference between who one is, and what he calls himself. This understanding helps to clear the fog that shrouds many needless arguments regarding the present nation of Israel and the true identity of God's "chosen people."

 

When Jacob left his father-in-law, Laban, and fled toward his original homeland, he had hoped to find peace. He was no sooner on the way when his sky turned black and everything seemed to go wrong.
He was overtaken by his father-in-law who accused him of stealing his property.
His wife Rachel was later discovered to have stolen her father's family seal.
When cornered, he and Laban, unable to reach a peaceful reconciliation, erected a pillar of separation they called the Mizpah. That pillar marked a border that each swore never to cross to do the other harm. Genesis 31:52. It meant permanent separation.

 

No sooner was that problem settled when Jacob received news that his brother Esau was on the way with 400 armed men apparently determined to settle an old score. Over the years, God had allowed Jacob to work himself into a box from which there was no way out! At last the lid snapped shut and he was trapped!

 

Desperate, Jacob retreated to a quiet spot crying to God for deliverance. There, God opened Jacob's eyes to see how vulnerable he had become. There was no escaping his own past life. He, the once proud, cunning, wealthy businessman who always seemed to come out on top realized that he was on the verge of losing everything. Not only was all he had gained at risk, but his life was in danger. Panic set in! He had not one friend left in all the world that he could turn to. He had cheated and outsmarted everyone. Now everyone hated him. He was alone!

 

The dark of the night seemed to shield him from the deeper darkness in his soul. He cried to the only One who might still listen. In mercy, God dispatched an angel to minister to his confused heart and mind. All night long the messenger of the Lord wrestled with Jacob's stubborn and self-righteous nature. All night long Jacob resisted, and refused to come to terms with his real problem. Instead of yielding to the angel, he kept justifying himself. The problem was "out there" he argued! Someone was always getting in his way! He fought and refused to admit that he had become his own worst enemy. God, deliver me from my enemies, was his cry!

 

Finally, failing to overcome Jacob's stubborn, self-righteous, self-justifying nature, the angel announced he had other matters to attend to, and must be on his way. Now Jacob was about to lose contact even with God. Under the threat of complete isolation not only from mankind but, even from the God of his fathers, he broke. "I will not let you go unless you bless me," he pleaded. All right, let's get back to the point, the angel replied. I'll try again. What is your name? When you look into the mirror of your soul, Jacob, what do you see? Either yield and admit the truth, or I must be on my way.

 

Jacob knew there was no way out. Either he surrendered, and came clean, or he was lost. Danger lurked on every hand. He had not a friend in the world. He succeeded in making enemies even of his own family. He saw that God's promise to bless him above his brother had gone to his head. He could not wait for God to lead in His own time. He gained the world but now was on the verge of losing his soul. Even his connection to God was about to be cut because of pride. His problem was not "out there." His problem, and his worst enemy, was Jacob!

 

At last he broke and faced the truth. He overcame his pride and confessed all the sins that flashed back at him from the mirror of his soul. He admitted that he was a fraud. He had lied to his father. He stole the birthright from his brother. He outsmarted his father-in-law in business. He had struggled against men and against God's voice all his life. Now he came clean. He had struggled with God and with men, but now at last he overcame.

 

He overcame what? Did he overcome the mighty angel God had sent to rescue him? Never! He overcame the most powerful enemy any of us must face sooner or later. - self! As a result, God knighted him with the coveted title Israel, which made him a prince with God.

 

Jacob was not Israel. Jacob was a man of the flesh. Now, the old Jacob was dead!
Israel was the new man! Jacob had to die to his old self before he could be transformed into a prince with God. The title, Israel could never be inherited! Anyone who would become a true Israelite had to personally die to his old self-serving nature, and be transformed into a new creation. No Jew is a true Israelite until and unless he repents of his worldly ways, and like Jacob of old, accepts the Prince of Peace in his heart. All others are impostors, pretending they are what they are not.

 

In time, the true meaning of "Israel" was lost, and that title was secularized and applied to any natural Jew on the basis of genetics. Now, there were two "Israels." One was the genuine, the other the imposters who assumed that title unworthily.

 

The title, Israel, includes any human being, regardless of race, who, like Jacob, has made his peace with Jesus Christ. Paul made this clear in Romans 9:6-8.
...For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. ...In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children. But it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring.

 

Result? Jacob was transformed into a man of peace. He now served the Prince of peace! He offered to give his brother compensation for what he had stolen. He offered a hand of friendship. He offered to serve rather than to be served. Israel was the new man!

 

Jacob had to break the stalemate that had existed for years by taking the initiative, and the risk! Risky? Love always implies risk. But the transforming miracle did not stop with Jacob. Jacob's spirit of reconciliation and generosity touched Esau's heart. Overwhelmed by his brother's new attitude, Esau also broke and repented of his anger and animosity. They now lived in peace so that when their father Isaac died, they both went up to Hebron and together buried him. Isaac lived to see his sons reconciled.

 

Modern (secular) Israel is walking in the old Jacob's shoes. God loves the modern Jews! God cares for secular Israel just as He cared for Jacob! They have repeated the trek back to their original homeland laden with the wealth they had accumulated in the world, just like Jacob did when he left Laban. There they found their brothers, the Arabs, occupying the land from which God had evicted Israel 2000 years ago for rejecting the Messiah.

 

Because God loves the Jewish people, He is allowing the noose to be drawn tighter and tighter around Jacob's sons. This is not the devil's doings. God is in control, and He is working to bring Israel to the same repentance that Jacob found. The battle is getting hotter. Now, modern Jacob and modern Esau are virtually at war again. Will the sons of Jacob follow the example of their forefather and break the stalemate by yielding to God? Will they yield to the chastisement of the Lord as Jacob did? What will it take to bring modern Israel to the point where they can see as God sees, and are willing to look to the Prince of Peace instead of to the god of war?

 

What did Abraham do when Lot complained that there was not enough room in the same area for both of them? Did he demand his rights? Did not God promise the land to him? Take what you want, Abraham said. My confidence is not in earthly real estate. God is my source! Result? It was not long before Lot lost what he coveted when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. By being generous and peace loving Abraham lost nothing!

 

Because God loves modern Israel, He has put that nation in a box. He boxed them in on every side so that there is no way out. It is God who boxed them in, not the Arabs! God allowed them to work their way into a no win situation from which only He can extricate them. Like Jacob, they are forced to face the real solution to their dilemma! Will they? Secular Israel will never find peace until they repent and receive the Prince of Peace into their hearts. God is calling Israel to stop leaning on the arm of flesh (their military might) and remember the words of their own prophets:
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.
Isaiah 31:1.

 

Let us pray for secular Israel's leaders that they may realize that their only peace is to be found in the Prince of Peace. By rejecting the Prince of Peace 2000 years ago they lost their homeland. In mercy God is giving that nation an opportunity to repent. Like Jacob, they have been successful in the world, but are on the verge of losing their souls. Like Jacob, they are fighting with men and with God.

 

They think they are praying to the God of Abraham, but they seem blind to the fact that by rejecting Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah who offers them peace, they are rejecting the God of Abraham. Jesus said, He who hates me hates my Father as well. John 15: 23. Let us pray for the government of Israel, that they will remove the laws which are antichrist from their land. Only when they recognize that Jesus Christ is their Savior too, will the curse that they have brought on themselves be removed.

 

Israel lost their peace when they rejected the Prince of Peace. Jesus wept over Jerusalem as He declared, If you...had only known on this day what would bring you peace - but now it is hidden from your eyes. Luke 19:42. If Christians want to bless the Jews, should we not pray that God would open their eyes to see how they lost their peace 2000 years ago? How can God bless Israel, the nation, so long as they remain anti Christ? Peace is the product of selfless love, not war. Jacob did not conquer Esau's army by warfare. God is calling Israel to "remember your father Jacob," and to learn from his mistakes.

 

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us,
so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we
might have hope. Romans 15:4.

 

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