Fear can be a wonderful tonic. And Jacob was now afraid. After years or daring, risking, scheming - in situations where ought to have been afraid, now he anticipates meeting his big brother, Esau, whom he had tricked and cheated years before. He is afraid for his personal safety and that of his family. And so, he prays.
I’ve been marking man’s verbal engagements with God recorded in the Bible - Biblical prayers. What is remarkable about Jacob, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, is that the many chapters recording his activities reveal no prayers until this late point in his life. Now we know that the Bible does not reveal every detail. But I find it remarkable, and wonder if the record were to reveal the patterns of our own lives, how prevalent prayer would be.
In this late-season prayer, Jacob is amazed at God’s loyalty and truth. Let’s take the latter quality first. To be sure, Jacob should be amazed at God’s tightness with the truth, given Jacob’s looseness with it. God keeps his promises, and Jacob has been the recipient of those promises, at least to this point. But whoever has dealt with Jacob has no assurance what he can count on after Jacob has spoken. Again, simple application, do we play fast and loose with the truth? Do we shade the truth, or leave out key details in order to be deceptive? It does not make sense that a person who truly values the God of Truth would de-value truth in his/her own life.
And then with regard to loyalty, we find Jacob again surprised. Jacob has lived a me-first type of life. That kind of person has a loyalty chiefly to himself, which is not really what the term means. True loyalty is a faithfulness to something or someone other than yourself - to wife and family; to a job or task; to a cause or mission; to God. Jacob has failed in all of these areas out of self-centeredness. But God, amazingly, has not given up on Jacob. He has not discarded him into the trash heap of history, though one would think it justified. But God’s Word determines His loyalty, and His loyalty directs His Word.
I find these word of Paul to Timothy about Jesus intriguing: “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:11–13 NAS95).
Jacob is at a crossroads. Will he cling to his loyal God, or will he continue in the path of a deceitful denier? And what about you?