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Genesis 32:22-32

When Past Meets Present

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • December 26, 2015

For some, what frightens us the most is our past! We all of us have made mistakes! And all of us know the feeling… the anxiety that overwhelms you when you come face to face with your past! Today, we’re going to discover how God confronted the past that Jacob, Israel’s patriarch, tried to run and hide from.By doing so, we will also see how God desires to liberate us from our past so that we may experience His victory in every one of our tomorrows.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

When Your Past Meets Your Present

Genesis 32:22-32 


ILLUS – Your worst holiday nightmare

1. For some, what frightens us the most is our past!

2. I’m not judging! The truth is all of us have made mistakes!

3. And all of us know the feeling… the anxiety that overwhelms you when you come face to face with your past!

4. Today, we’re going to discover how God confronted the past that Jacob, Israel’s patriarch, tried to run and hide from.

5. By doing so, we will also see how God desires to liberate us from our past so that we may experience His victory in every one of our tomorrows.

READ – Genesis 32:22-32


1. Jacob was 97 years young at this point in his life.  

2. For 20 years he served his uncle Laban, the master deceiver! 

3. Jacob went from a 77 year old, failure to launch, momma’s boy to a wealthy man with 2 wives, 2 maids, 10 sons, and 1 daughter.  

4. Now during the last 6 years of his time serving Laban, Jacob became very wealthy. He acquired goats, sheep, camels, cattle, donkeys, and servants. 

5. But Jacob’s wealth created tension with his relatives. Jealousy filled their hearts and Jacob was in danger of losing all he had.

6. According to Genesis 31, God commanded Jacob to move back to the land of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, the land of Canaan. 

7. Problem – Jacob had to pass through the land of Seir, the country of Edom, where his big brother Esau lived… suddenly Jacob’s
past came back to haunt him and threatened to interfere with his future. 

I.     God Wants To Bless Our Tomorrows (6-21)

A.    God confronts the past we wish to forget (6)

ILLUS – To put it nicely, Jacob and Esau had “issues” 

Jacob snatched Esau’s birthright for a cup of stew

Jacob deceived his father, Isaac, to steal Esau’s blessing

Esau wanted to kill Jacob. So Jacob decided to move on.

20 years later God told Jacob to go back home. Word got back to Esau and he decided to pay Jacob a visit with 400 men in tow!

APPL – Why would God tell Jacob to go home if going home meant seeing Esau? Because God was confronting the past Jacob had run from. The
same is true for us! Poor choices, broken relationships, addictions; God wants to liberate us from it all!

1.When Jacob heard Esau was on his way to see him, he, was “greatly afraid and distressed” (v.7)

Translation: Jacob is having a major meltdown!

2. But true to form, Jacob considered his options and

came up with a series of clever schemes:

a. He divides the camp (7-8)

b. He prays for deliverance – “Foxhole prayer” (9-12)

c. He sends Esau gifts, over 550 animals (13-20)

3. Jacob’s motivation – wear Esau down with kindness!

Genesis 32:20, “I will appease him with the present that goes before me. Then afterwards I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.”

B.     God uses our past to change us

1. This is God’s goal – to change us!

a. To build our faith and strengthen our character

b. To purge manipulation out of the Manipulator

c. To prune the control out of the Control Freak

Martin Luther, “A Christian is never in a state of completion but always in the process of becoming.”

2. Jacob thought that Esau would keep him from God’s blessings and promises.

3. But God wanted to show him that Jacob was keeping Jacob from the promises and blessings of God.

4. God would not allow Jacob to enter the Promised Land as Jacob. Jacob needed to change and God used his past to pave the way for a blessed future.

APPL – Many people carry their past around with them, the very past they’re trying to forget. The guilt and shame of failure, addictions,
and pain they have inflicted upon themselves and others. Therefore, it’s essential to understand that God wants to use the failures of our past to
bless our tomorrows. God is working in us for our good!

Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ

Transition – Why did Jacob live the way he lived? Why did he control, scheme, and manipulate? Because He did not trust God!

II.     God Confronts Our Unbelief (24-25) 

A.     God waits for a teachable moment (24a)

1. Jacob sent everyone away (22-23)

2. Jacob had done all he could do, no more schemes left in his bag of tricks!

3. In the middle of the night Jacob was alone with his

fears, uncertain about his future.

4. But Jacob learned that he was not alone. God was with him. This was the moment God was waiting for!

Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk
through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.”

Charles Spurgeon, “As sure as ever God puts His children in the furnace, He will be in the furnace with them.”

B.    God confronts us because He loves us

Hebrews 12:7, 10, Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.” (NIV)

1. It’s important to note that Jacob had been wrestling with God before there was an actual wrestling match. 

2. God took the initiative to wrestle with Jacob to show him how he had been living all 97 years of his life.

3. Now, Jacob probably thought he was wrestling one of Esau’s men. But the Bible reveals the true identity of Jacob’s opponent, the angel of the Lord,
God’s Son!

Hosea 12:3-5, “In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his maturity he contended with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel
and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor. He found Him at Bethel, and there He spoke with us, even the Lord, the God of Hosts; the Lord is His name.”

4. Why did God appear in the form of a man? Because Jacob was treating God like a man:

Frail and Finite

Forgetful and Unfaithful

Foe, not a Friend

5. But we must remember that God is not man!!! 

a. God is faithful and never forgets His people

Isaiah 49:14-16, “But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, and
have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.”

b. Our all powerful God is for His people

Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who is against us?”

III.     Stop Wrestling with God (26-32)

A.      Cling to God instead

ILLUS – Adam’s first varsity wrestling match as a freshman

1. This is incredible – Jacob actually wrestled God!

a. God is in a completely different weight class!

b. Yet God allowed Jacob to wrestle Him all night!

c. God could have pinned him easily and then some!

2. When it was time to be done, the Lord merely touched Jacob’s thigh, the symbol of Jacob’s strength, and Jacob’s hip was dislocated!

3. With a touch, not a twist or torque, God revealed His superiority. But there’s more.

4. God also revealed He was Jacob’s Advocate, not an adversary. God was for him, not against him!

5. Once Jacob’s hip was dislocated, he couldn’t flee.

6. Even better, once Jacob realized he had met his match, he didn’t want to wrestle or flee!

7. He cried out for a blessing as he held fast to the Lord.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast
about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions,
with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

APPL – Is anyone tired of wrestling with God? Some are wrestling with God because they’re carrying guilt and shame even though God has
already forgiven you! Stop wrestling and cling to God’s grace!

B.     Be governed by God

1. God gave Jacob a new name – Name revealed one’s character, what his name had come to mean because of the life he lived!

a. Jacob means “heel grabber”, “supplanter”

b. Israel means “God fights”, “God’s prince”, “governed by God”!

c. Jacob’s new name answered Jacob’s question to his opponent, “What is your name?” God!

2. God gave Jacob a new walk – a “limp” (31)

a. A constant reminder to walk by faith

b. Not by fear

Psalm 56:3-4, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?”


But what did the Lord mean when He said, “you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed”?

It was a reference to the heart of God for Jacob and all who come to Him by faith. Look at the words of Hosea 12:4 again…

Hosea 12:4, “Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor.”

ILLUS – Walking up the stairs with Malina to go to bed each night 

Faith in God prevails upon the heart of God because God wants to bless His children.

We don’t have to manipulate or strive to get God to bless us

Simply believe in God and His heart for you. Stand on His promises and He will do it.

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and
He will make your paths straight.” 

Genesis 32:22-32     NASB

22 Now he arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and
sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had. 24 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When
he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with
him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 So he said to him, “What
is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have
prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” 31 Now the sun rose upon him
just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. 32 Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which
is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.



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