JACOB WRESTLED WITH GOD (JANUARY 27, 2021)

Jacob got up during the night, took his two wives, his two women servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed the Jabbok River’s shallow water. He took them and everything that belonged to him, and he helped them cross the river. But Jacob stayed apart by himself, and a man wrestled with him until dawn broke. When the man saw that he couldn’t defeat Jacob, he grabbed Jacob’s thigh and tore a muscle in Jacob’s thigh as he wrestled with him. The man said, “Let me go because the dawn is breaking.”

JACOB WRESTLED WITH GOD (JANUARY 27, 2021)

Genesis 32:22–35:29, CEB

Jacob got up during the night, took his two wives, his two women servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed the Jabbok River’s shallow water. He took them and everything that belonged to him, and he helped them cross the river. But Jacob stayed apart by himself, and a man wrestled with him until dawn broke. When the man saw that he couldn’t defeat Jacob, he grabbed Jacob’s thigh and tore a muscle in Jacob’s thigh as he wrestled with him. The man said, “Let me go because the dawn is breaking.”

But Jacob said, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.”

He said to Jacob, “What’s your name?” and he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name won’t be Jacob any longer, but Israel, because you struggled with God and with men and won.”

Jacob also asked and said, “Tell me your name.”

But he said, “Why do you ask for my name?” and he blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place Peniel, “because I’ve seen God face-to-face, and my life has been saved.” The sun rose as Jacob passed Penuel, limping because of his thigh. Therefore, Israelites don’t eat the tendon attached to the thigh muscle to this day, because he grabbed Jacob’s thigh muscle at the tendon.

Jacob looked up and saw Esau approaching with four hundred men. Jacob divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two women servants. He put the servants and their children first, Leah and her children after them, and Rachel and Joseph last. He himself went in front of them and bowed to the ground seven times as he was approaching his brother. But Esau ran to meet him, threw his arms around his neck, kissed him, and they wept. Esau looked up and saw the women and children and said, “Who are these with you?”

Jacob said, “The children that God generously gave your servant.” The women servants and their children came forward and bowed down. Then Leah and her servants also came forward and bowed, and afterward Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed.

Esau said, “What’s the meaning of this entire group of animals that I met?”

Jacob said, “To ask for my master’s kindness.”

Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what’s yours.”

Jacob said, “No, please, do me the kindness of accepting my gift. Seeing your face is like seeing God’s face, since you’ve accepted me so warmly. Take this present that I’ve brought because God has been generous to me, and I have everything I need.” So Jacob persuaded him, and he took it.

Esau said, “Let’s break camp and set out, and I’ll go with you.”

But Jacob said to him, “My master knows that the children aren’t strong and that I am responsible for the nursing flocks and cattle. If I push them hard for even one day, all of the flocks will die. My master, go on ahead of your servant, but I’ve got to take it easy, going only as fast as the animals in front of me and the children are able to go, until I meet you in Seir.”

Esau said, “Let me leave some of my people with you.”

But Jacob said, “Why should you do this since my master has already been so kind to me?” That day Esau returned on the road to Seir, but Jacob traveled to Succoth. He built a house for himself but made temporary shelters for his animals; therefore, he named the place Succoth.

Jacob arrived safely at the city of Shechem in the land of Canaan on his trip from Paddan-aram, and he camped in front of the city. He bought the section of the field where he pitched his tent from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred qesitahs.Then he set up an altar there and named it El Elohe Israel.

Dinah, the daughter whom Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to meet the women of that country. When Shechem the son of the Hivite Hamor and the country’s prince saw her, he took her, slept with her, and humiliated her. He was drawn to Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. He loved the young woman and tried to win her heart. Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get this girl for me as my wife.” Now Jacob heard that Shechem defiled his daughter Dinah; but his sons were with the animals in the countryside, so he decided to keep quiet until they got back. Meanwhile, Hamor, Shechem’s father, went out to Jacob to speak with him. Just then, Jacob’s sons got back from the countryside. When they heard what had happened, they were deeply offended and very angry, because Shechem had disgraced Israel by sleeping with Jacob’s daughter. Such things are simply not done.

Hamor said to them, “My son Shechem’s heart is set on your daughter. Please let him marry her. Arrange marriages with us: give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. Live with us. The land is available to you: settle down, travel through it, and buy property in it.”

Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “If you approve of me, tell me what you want, and I will give it to you. Make the bride price and marriage gifts as large as you like, and I will pay whatever you tell me. Then let me marry the young woman.”

Jacob’s sons responded deviously to Shechem and his father Hamor because Shechem defiled their sister Dinah. They said to them, “We can’t do this, allowing our sisters to marry uncircumcised men, because it’s disgraceful to us. We can only agree to do this if you circumcise every male as we do. Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves. We will live with you and be one people. But if you don’t listen to us and become circumcised, we will take our daughter and leave.”

Their idea seemed like a good one to Hamor and Hamor’s son Shechem. The young man didn’t waste any time doing this because he liked Jacob’s daughter so much. He was more respected than anyone else in his father’s household. Hamor and his son Shechem went to their city’s gate and spoke to the men of their city: “These men want peace with us. Let them live in the land and travel through it; there’s plenty of land for them. We will marry their daughters and give them our daughters. But the men will agree to live with us and become one people only if we circumcise every male just as they do. Their livestock, their property, and all of their animals—won’t they be ours? Let’s agree with them and let them live with us.” Everyone at the city gate agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem, so every able-bodied male in the city was circumcised.

On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons and Dinah’s brothers Simeon and Levi took their swords, came into the city, which suspected nothing, and killed every male. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with their swords, took Dinah from Shechem’s household, and left. When Jacob’s other sons discovered the dead, they looted the city that had defiled their sister. They took their flocks, their cattle, and their donkeys, whether in the city or in the fields nearby. They carried off their property, their children, and their wives. They looted the entire place. Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You’ve put me in danger by making me offensive to those who live here in the land, to the Canaanites and the Perizzites. I have only a few men. They may join forces, attack me, and destroy me, me and my household.”

They said, “But didn’t he treat our sister like a prostitute?”

God said to Jacob, “Get up, go to Bethel, and live there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you ran away from your brother Esau.”

Jacob said to his household and to everyone who was with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you. Clean yourselves and change your clothes. Then let’s rise and go up to Bethel so that I can build an altar there to the God who answered me when I was in trouble and who has been with me wherever I’ve gone.” So they gave Jacob all of the foreign gods they had, as well as the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the terebinth at Shechem. When they set out, God made all of the surrounding cities fearful so that they didn’t pursue Jacob’s sons. Jacob and all of the people with him arrived in Luz, otherwise known as Bethel, in the land of Canaan. He built an altar there and named the place El-bethel, because God had revealed himself to him there when he ran away from his brother. Rebekah’s nurse Deborah died and was buried at Bethel under the oak, and Jacob named it Allon-bacuth.

God appeared to Jacob again, while he was on his way back from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but your name will be Jacob no longer. No, your name will be Israel.” And he named him Israel. God said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Be fertile and multiply. A nation, even a large group of nations, will come from you; kings will descend from your own children. The land I gave to Abraham and to Isaac, I give to you; and I will give the land to your descendants after you.” Then God ascended, leaving him alone in the place where he spoke to him. So Jacob set up a sacred pillar, a stone pillar, at the place God spoke to him. He poured an offering of wine on it and then poured oil over it. Jacob named the place Bethel where God spoke to him.

They left Bethel, and when they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went into hard labor. During her difficult labor, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid. You have another son.” As her life faded away, just before she died, she named him Ben-oni, but his father named him Benjamin.Rachel died and was buried near the road to Ephrath, that is, Bethlehem. Jacob set up a pillar on her grave. It’s the pillar on Rachel’s tomb that’s still there today. Israel continued his trip and pitched his tent farther on near the tower of Eder.

While Israel stayed in that place, Reuben went and slept with Bilhah his father’s secondary wife, and Israel heard about it.

Jacob had twelve sons. The sons of Leah were Reuben, Jacob’s oldest son, and Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant, were Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant, were Gad and Asher. These were Jacob’s sons born to him in Paddan-aram.

Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, that is, Kiriath-arba. This is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac lived as immigrants. At the age of 180 years, Isaac took his last breath and died. He was buried with his ancestors after a long, satisfying life. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Job 13:1–14:22, MEV

“Notice, my eye has seen all this;

my ear has heard and understood it.

What you know, I also know the same;

I am not inferior to you.

Surely I would speak to the Almighty,

and I desire to reason with God.

But you are plasterers of falsehood;

you are all physicians of no value.

Oh, that you would altogether hold your peace,

and it would be your wisdom!

Hear now my reasoning,

and listen to the pleadings of my lips.

Will you speak wickedly for God?

And talk deceitfully for Him?

Will you take His side?

Will you plead for God?

Is it good that He would search you out?

Or as one man mocks another, do you so mock Him?

He will surely rebuke you,

if you secretly show partiality.

Will not His excellence make you afraid,

and the dread of Him fall upon you?

Your reminders are parables made of ashes;

your answers are answers made of clay.

“Hold your peace; leave me alone, that I may speak,

and let come on me what may!

Why do I take my flesh in my teeth

and put my life in my hand?

Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,

but I will defend my own ways before Him.

He also will be my salvation,

for a hypocrite could not come before Him.

Listen carefully to my speech,

and to my declaration with your ears.

See now, I have prepared my case;

I know that I will be justified.

Who is he who will plead with me?

For now, if I hold my tongue, I will give up my breath.

“Only grant me two things,

then I will not hide myself from You:

Withdraw Your hand far from me,

and let not the dread of You make me afraid.

Then call, and I will answer;

or let me speak, and You answer me.

How many are my iniquities and sins?

Make known to me my transgression and my sin.

Why do You hide Your face

and regard me as Your enemy?

Will You frighten a leaf driven to and fro?

And will You pursue dry stubble?

For You write bitter things against me

and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth.

You put my feet in the stocks

and watch closely all my paths;

You draw a line around the soles of my feet.

“Man, as a rotten thing, decays,

as a garment that is moth eaten.

“Man who is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.

He comes forth like a flower and withers;

he flees like a shadow and does not continue.

Do You open Your eyes on such a one,

and bring me into judgment with You?

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?

There is no one.

Seeing his days are determined,

the number of his months are with You;

You have appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;

turn from him, that he may rest,

until he, as a hired man, finishes his day.

“For there is hope for a tree,

if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,

and that its tender shoots will not cease.

Though its root may grow old in the earth,

and its stump may die in the ground,

yet at the scent of water it will bud

and bring forth boughs like a plant.

But man dies and wastes away;

yes, man gives up his breath, and where is he?

As the waters disappear from the sea,

and the flood shrivels and dries up,

so man lies down and does not rise;

until the heavens are no more, he will not awake,

nor be raised out of his sleep.

“Oh, that You would hide me in the grave,

that You would conceal me until Your wrath is past,

that You would appoint me a set time

and remember me!

If a man dies, will he live again?

All the days of my service I will wait,

until my relief comes.

You will call, and I will answer You;

You will long for the work of Your hands.

For now You number my steps;

do You not observe my sin?

My transgression is sealed up in a bag,

and You plaster over my iniquity.

“Surely the mountain falling comes to nothing,

and the rock is removed out of its place.

The waters wear away the stones;

its overflow washes away the dust of the earth;

and You destroy the hope of man.

You prevail forever against him, and he passes on;

changing his countenance, You send him away.

His sons come to honor, and he does not know it;

and they are brought low, but he does not perceive it.

But his flesh on him will have pain,

and his soul within him will mourn.”

Isaiah 18–20, NLT

Listen, Ethiopia—land of fluttering sails

that lies at the headwaters of the Nile,

that sends ambassadors

in swift boats down the river.

Go, swift messengers!

Take a message to a tall, smooth-skinned people,

who are feared far and wide

for their conquests and destruction,

and whose land is divided by rivers.

All you people of the world,

everyone who lives on the earth—

when I raise my battle flag on the mountain, look!

When I blow the ram’s horn, listen!

For the Lord has told me this:

“I will watch quietly from my dwelling place—

as quietly as the heat rises on a summer day,

or as the morning dew forms during the harvest.”

Even before you begin your attack,

while your plans are ripening like grapes,

the Lord will cut off your new growth with pruning shears.

He will snip off and discard your spreading branches.

Your mighty army will be left dead in the fields

for the mountain vultures and wild animals.

The vultures will tear at the corpses all summer.

The wild animals will gnaw at the bones all winter.

At that time the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will receive gifts

from this land divided by rivers,

from this tall, smooth-skinned people,

who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction.

They will bring the gifts to Jerusalem,

where the Lord of Heaven’s Armies dwells.

This message came to me concerning Egypt:

Look! The Lord is advancing against Egypt,

riding on a swift cloud.

The idols of Egypt tremble.

The hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear.

“I will make Egyptian fight against Egyptian—

brother against brother,

neighbor against neighbor,

city against city,

province against province.

The Egyptians will lose heart,

and I will confuse their plans.

They will plead with their idols for wisdom

and call on spirits, mediums, and those who consult the spirits of the dead.

I will hand Egypt over

to a hard, cruel master.

A fierce king will rule them,”

says the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

The waters of the Nile will fail to rise and flood the fields.

The riverbed will be parched and dry.

The canals of the Nile will dry up,

and the streams of Egypt will stink

with rotting reeds and rushes.

All the greenery along the riverbank

and all the crops along the river

will dry up and blow away.

The fishermen will lament for lack of work.

Those who cast hooks into the Nile will groan,

and those who use nets will lose heart.

There will be no flax for the harvesters,

no thread for the weavers.

They will be in despair,

and all the workers will be sick at heart.

What fools are the officials of Zoan!

Their best counsel to the king of Egypt is stupid and wrong.

Will they still boast to Pharaoh of their wisdom?

Will they dare brag about all their wise ancestors?

Where are your wise counselors, Pharaoh?

Let them tell you what God plans,

what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is going to do to Egypt.

The officials of Zoan are fools,

and the officials of Memphis are deluded.

The leaders of the people

have led Egypt astray.

The Lord has sent a spirit of foolishness on them,

so all their suggestions are wrong.

They cause Egypt to stagger

like a drunk in his vomit.

There is nothing Egypt can do.

All are helpless—

the head and the tail,

the noble palm branch and the lowly reed.

In that day the Egyptians will be as weak as women. They will cower in fear beneath the upraised fist of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Just to speak the name of Israel will terrorize them, for the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has laid out his plans against them.

In that day five of Egypt’s cities will follow the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. They will even begin to speak Hebrew, the language of Canaan. One of these cities will be Heliopolis, the City of the Sun.

In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the heart of Egypt, and there will be a monument to the Lord at its border. It will be a sign and a witness that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is worshiped in the land of Egypt. When the people cry to the Lord for help against those who oppress them, he will send them a savior who will rescue them. The Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians. Yes, they will know the Lord and will give their sacrifices and offerings to him. They will make a vow to the Lord and will keep it. The Lord will strike Egypt, and then he will bring healing. For the Egyptians will turn to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas and heal them.

In that day Egypt and Assyria will be connected by a highway. The Egyptians and Assyrians will move freely between their lands, and they will both worship God. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth. For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will say, “Blessed be Egypt, my people. Blessed be Assyria, the land I have made. Blessed be Israel, my special possession!”

In the year when King Sargon of Assyria sent his commander in chief to capture the Philistine city of Ashdod, the Lord told Isaiah son of Amoz, “Take off the burlap you have been wearing, and remove your sandals.” Isaiah did as he was told and walked around naked and barefoot.

Then the Lord said, “My servant Isaiah has been walking around naked and barefoot for the last three years. This is a sign—a symbol of the terrible troubles I will bring upon Egypt and Ethiopia. For the king of Assyria will take away the Egyptians and Ethiopians as prisoners. He will make them walk naked and barefoot, both young and old, their buttocks bared, to the shame of Egypt. Then the Philistines will be thrown into panic, for they counted on the power of Ethiopia and boasted of their allies in Egypt! They will say, ‘If this can happen to Egypt, what chance do we have? We were counting on Egypt to protect us from the king of Assyria.’ ”

Matthew 10:1–33, The Bible for Everyone: A New Translation

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out and to heal every disease and every sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles. First, Simon, who is called Peter (‘the rock’), and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector, James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean; and Judas Iscariot (who betrayed him).

Jesus sent these Twelve off with these instructions.

‘Don’t go into Gentile territory,’ he said, ‘and don’t go into a Samaritan town. Go instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, declare publicly that the kingdom of heaven has arrived. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse people with skin diseases, cast out demons.

‘It was all free when you got it; make sure it’s free when you give it. Don’t take any gold or silver or copper in your belts; no bag for the road, no second cloak, no sandals, no stick. Workers deserve their pay.

‘When you go into a town or village, make careful enquiry for someone who is good and trustworthy, and stay there until you leave. When you go into the house give a solemn greeting. If the house is trustworthy, let your blessing of peace rest upon it, but if not, let it return to you. If anyone won’t welcome you or listen to your message, go out of the house or the town and shake the dust off your feet. I’m telling you the truth: it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.’

‘See here,’ Jesus continued, ‘I’m sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes, and as innocent as doves.

‘Watch out for danger from people around you. They will hand you over to councils, and flog you in their synagogues. You will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as evidence to them and to the nations. But when they hand you over, don’t worry how to speak or what to say. What you have to say will be given to you at that moment. It won’t be you speaking, you see; it will be the spirit of your father speaking in you.

‘One brother will betray another to death; fathers will betray children, and children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who holds out to the end will be delivered.

‘When they persecute you in one town, run off to the next one. I’m telling you the truth: you won’t have gone through all the towns of Israel before the son of man comes.’

‘The disciple isn’t greater than the teacher; the slave isn’t greater than the master. It’s quite enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave to be like the master. If they called the master of the house ‘Beelzebul’, think what they’re going to call his family!

‘Don’t be afraid of them. Nothing is hidden, you see, that won’t come to light; nothing is secret that won’t be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light, and what you hear whispered in your ears, announce from the roofs of the houses.

‘Don’t be afraid of people who can kill the body, but can’t kill the soul. The one you should be afraid of is the one who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna. How much would you get for a couple of sparrows? A single copper coin if you’re lucky? And not one of them falls to the ground without your father knowing about it. When it comes to you—why, every hair on your head is counted. So don’t be afraid! You’re worth much more than a great many sparrows.’

‘So: everyone who owns up in front of others to being on my side, I will own them before my father in heaven. But anyone who disowns me in front of others, I will disown that person before my father in heaven.

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