Jan 31, 2022

(Genesis 32, Mark 3; Optional Psalm 25:1-10, Proverbs 6:27-31)

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GENESIS 32 – Since being a twin in the womb, Jacob has been struggling (Gen 25:22) and tending to use his own strength and cunning to get ahead (Gen 25:24-26, 29-33). In Gen 31 he snuck away from his father-in-law, Laban, and had quite a confrontation. And now he’s headed back to where he knows his slightly older twin brother, Esau, lives. The last thing Jacob heard about Esau, 20 years before when he had to flee the promised land, was that Esau wanted to kill Jacob (Gen 27:41-44). While preparing for this confrontation, Jacob is grabbed by a mysterious stranger in the night who wrestles with him all night long. Jacob ends up going to meet his brother in Gen 33 with a new name, a new limp, and too exhausted to depend on his own resources. But now confident that he has God’s blessing, the Jacob reconciles with Esau in Gen 33 isn’t clinging to his stuff anymore. He is eager to pass on the blessing that God has given to him.

Gen 32:1-7 – The first 2 vs must have been an encouraging reminder of 20 years ago, when God met with Jacob when he was fleeing the promised land and promised that God would protect and bless Jacob and bring him back one day (Gen 28:12-17). But how quickly this turned to terror (Gen 32:6-7) when he heard that Esau was on his way bringing 400 men.

Gen 32:7-21 – A glimpse into what Jacob has LEARNED over the past 20 years, and what he is STILL struggling with… He IS turning to God in prayer, but he notice what Jacob calls God in vs 9 (compare Gen 31:5, 42, 53). He HAS learned some humility (calling himself “servant” and Esau “my lord” in v 4-5, 18, 20; and the humility in v 10 towards God). But is there still too much leaning on his own cunning in v 7-21? Or is that just wise planning, which is FINE to do along with our relying on God in prayer.

Gen 32:22-32 – Jacob LEFT ALONE with God. And God grabs him in the middle of the night and wrestles with Jacob all through this night. In all of Jacob’s struggles, this is the one that ultimately matters – dealing with God!

Gen 32:25 – Just a touch from the mysterious stranger (who is likely a pre-incarnate glimpse of Jesus in the OT) is enough to make Jacob limp. So God obviously could’ve finished this wrestling match at any time, but is bringing Jacob to the end of his fleshly strength. Oh, the surprising grace of God, who brings us to the end of ourselves before changing our identity (v 28) and blessing us (v 29)! Notice how the newly-named Israel calls God after this encounter – Gen 33:20 translates “God, the God of Israel.” No more just the God of his fathers, but his God!

Gen 32:28 – “Israel” – means something like either “Struggles with God” or “God struggles” (which can also include two ideas: 1) God struggling with Israel and / or 2) that God struggles on Israel’s behalf).

MARK 3 – In Mark 2 there are HINTS of growing opposition to Jesus, but in Mk 3 it’s CLEAR (especially see v 2, 6, 22, 28-30). And even Jesus’ physical family thought he was acting crazy (v 20-21) and tried to get Jesus to stop ministering. But in the midst of this, Jesus calls the 12 apostles, and says that the family that really matters is the family built around those who want to hear and apply God’s Word (v 34-35).

Mk 3:14 – “with Him”. When the apostles were praying about how to replace Judas Iscariot, one of the primary qualifications was that it be someone who was “with Jesus” – a first-hand witness of who Jesus was and all that He had done (see Acts 1:21-22). When the apostles where being surprisingly bold even in the face of strong threats to their lives, the religious leaders looked for an explanation. The apostles had NOT been through the accepted Bible-training rabbinical schools, so how did they get such authoritative boldness??  The only explanation – the apostles had been “with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

Mk 3:11-15, 22-30 – Note the huge emphasis on Jesus and the apostles casting out demons. Several of the OT prophets did healings (and even a little raising from the dead). But Jesus’ coming into the world brought a unique confrontation with demons! They knew who He was (Mk 3:11), and there is an epic showdown, as Jesus shows His far-surpassing strength over Satan.

Mk 3:28-30 – The “unforgivable sin” is repeatedly suppressing the witness of the Holy Spirit’s witness that Jesus is truly from God and must be followed. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you, don’t take that lightly – there IS a point of no return. If you have more questions, there are lots of helpful resources here: www.DesiringGod.org. In the search bar you can type “unforgivable sin”.

Mk 3:20-21, 31-33 – God often inspired Mark to highlight something by using what some call a “Markan sandwich”. A topic is introduced, then something else happens in the middle, and then it’s picked up again. The point of this highlight is the family that eternally and ultimately matters to Jesus.

Optional Psalm 25:1-10 – David the Psalmist is very aware of :

1) His enemies / troubles (Ps 25:2, 15, 17-19, 22)

2) His sin (Ps 25:6-8, 11, 18)

3) God’s goodness

     A) He will make sure His people are vindicated (Ps 25:1-3, 5, 15, 16-22)

     B) He teaches His people (Ps 25:4-5, 8-10, 12-13)

     C) He forgives sin (Ps 25:7, 18)

     D) He does what He does because of who He is –

            1. “the God of my salvation” (Ps 25:5)

            2. the God of “mercy” and “steadfast love” (Ps 25:6-10)

            3. “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He instructs sinners in the way.” (Ps 25:8) 

            4. “For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.” (Ps 25:11)

Optional Proverbs 6:27-31 – A reminder that sin WILL have devastating consequences one day.