This past week, we talked with the 7th-8th graders a lot about Jacob. His name means “grabber.” We’re going to pick up at Melissa’s last talk of the camp—and last teaching of the summer…
“Hebrews 11 is considered the hall of fame chapter in the Bible. It talks about a lot of people who trusted God, even though they had a limp like Jacob. Jacob’s made it in, too, in verse 21.
‘By an act of faith, Jacob on his deathbed blessed each of Joseph’s sons in turn, blessing them with God’s blessing, not his own—as he bowed worshipfully upon his staff.’
Jacob’s name no longer is grabber. Now, his name is Israel, with God telling him his descendants will be many. His name is mentioned over 250 times in the Bible. He has much to tell us—in his living, his limp, and his dying.
In this verse, he does two things. First, he blessed each of Joseph’s sons, his grandsons. We come alive when we bless others.
Jacob has been known for his selfishness—his grabbing—his own birthright among other things. But, at the end of his life, his intent is to bless
Secondly, he bowed worshipfully upon his staff. He still had his cane—and his limp. But he is dying with humility, head down, worshipping God. Worship is where we feel and experience God. It is finding a place where we can lean on the everlasting God. Psalm 23 says He is our rod and staff and comforts us.
This diagram represents our week and where we’ve been.
We started with Genesis 32 and Jacob’s story. We talked about how he’s much like where you are developmentally—narcissistic in grabbing. It’s pretty normal for your age, and was for him. Jacob spent a lot of time grabbing, as his name describes. And then he’s have to run—because of the consequences of his grabbing. It’s where our sin comes in, as well. Although you’re in a more narcissistic time in your lives, it’s not a “that’s just the way I am” kind of thing. We want to move out of the narcissism and toward the same blessing that Jacob did.
In verses 13-21, Jacob sends the very things that are most important to him down to the river. In essence, he gives them over to God. We tend to think we have to give those things up. But that’s different than giving them over. Several nights ago, you wrote those things in your own life on a rock, giving them over to God.
Jacob then returned alone. In that night, he wrestled with God. It’s those moments that are often most important for all of us—when we’re alone with God. They’re when you’re in your room and it’s dark and you feel a lot. It’s when you start to wrestle yourselves.
Wrestling involves feelings like:
“I feel lonely.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I feel left out.”
“God, where are you?”
It is okay to wrestle. In fact, if you don’t, your faith won’t be very deep. It’s not our feelings that are sin, but what we do with those feelings. You’re starting to feel so much at your age, and God wants to hear and be with you in the midst of those feelings. That’s what wrestling is all about.
Jacob wrestled with God till almost day break. And, before he let him go, God gave Jacob a limp that he’d have the rest of his life. That limp was to remind him to trust God.
You have a limp, too. We shared those this week. It can be something that’s happened to you or something you’re doing. We say often that God’s greatest gift is forgiveness. In the cross, God said, I love you so much and you can’t do it right. I want you to hold on. Put your arms around our neck and hold tight. He took every sin. That’s our joy. We hold tight to God’s word as we wrestle (Psalm 46).
Jacob, at the end of his wrestling, held on to God until he blessed him. In that blessing he was given his new name—Israel, just like the new names you’ve been given this week. He makes you new. He calls you to something higher as you hold on to him and reminds you of his great and deeply personal love for you.
We are all limping toward the cross together. It’s not our limp, but His love that takes us there. Jesus doesn’t expect you to be perfect, but He does want you to lean on Him.”