A Name Change Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Harry Emerson Fosdick, pastor for many years at Riverside Church in New York City, preached a sermon entitled “No Man Need Stay the Way He Is.”
If we don’t like ourselves the way we are, we can change.
That is what happened to Jacob at Jabbok-a deceiver became a good man.
He is not Jacob anymore-the one who is a usurper, the trickster but is now called Israel.
Now the new nature of Israel will be seen in the life of this man.
God had crippled Jacob in order to get him, but He got him.
This man Jacob refused to give in at first, that was typical of him.
He knows a few holds, and he thought that after a while he would be able to overcome.
Finally, he found out he couldn’t overcome, but he would not surrender.
And so what did God do?
Certainly, with His superior strength, it would only have taken a moment for God to pin down Jacob’s shoulders-but He wouldn’t have pinned down his will.
Jacob was like a little boy whose mama made him sit in a corner in his room.
After awhile she heard a noise in there, and she called to him, “Willie, are you sitting down?”
He said, “Yes, I’m sitting down, but I’m standing up on the inside of me!”
That is precisely what would have happened to Jacob.
He would have been standing up on the inside of himself, he wasn’t ready to yield.
Notice how God deals with him.
He touches the hollow of Jacob’s thigh.
Just the touch of the finger of God and this man becomes helpless.
But you see, God is not pinning down his shoulders.
And now Jacob holds on to Him.
The Man says, “Let Me go,” and Jacob says, “No, I want Your blessing.”
He’s clinging to God now.
The struggling and striving are over, and from here on Jacob is going to exhibit a spiritual nature; dependence upon God.
You will not find the change happening in a moment’s notice.
Psychologists tell us that certain synaptic connections are set up in our nervous systems so that we do things by habit.
We are creatures of habit.
This man Israel will lapse back into his old ways many times, but we begin to see something different in him now.
Before we are through with him, we will find he is a real man of God.
First, we saw him at his home, and then in the land of Haran where he was a man of the flesh.
He was selfish, and he was only concerned about himself.
Here at Peniel, at the brook Jabbok, we find him fighting.
After this, and all the way through down into Egypt, we see him as a man of faith.
First, a man of the flesh, then a man who is fighting and struggling, and finally a man if faith.
A change in nature results from submission to God’s will.
Instead of trying to run our own lives, we must allow God to control our lives.
Now here’s what I want you to see, “all of us are changed to serve the Lord.”
Having our natures changed is not a submissive matter.
It means a change in lifestyle.
When we are changed, we are led to service.
Jacob’s story reflects a new lifestyle.
Jacob became a new man when the Lord prevailed in his life.
His name was changed from “Jacob the deceiver” to “Israel,” which means “prince or perseverer with God.”
He changed his relationship with Esau, his brother.
In previous years he had cheated and exploited Esau; but after Jacob’s encounter with God,
he made every effort to seek reconciliation with Esau.
Jacob’s service indicates that every life-changing encounter should result in service.
Being saved and serving others goes hand in hand.
Serving others keeps us from a destructive preoccupation with ourselves.
In the 1700’s a man named John Newton traveled to Africa.
He got involved in the slave trade and truly made a mess of his life.
But then John Newton had a life-changing encounter with the Lord and wrote the words to “Amazing Grace.”
Jacob desperately needed a change.
His change in nature came when he allowed the Lord to prevail in his life.
When the Lord prevailed, Jacob became a profitable servant of the Lord.
Do you acknowledge that you need a new nature?
Will you allow God to change your life?
In the New Testament another young man, a son of Jacob by the name of Saul of Tarsus tells us of his struggle in chapter 7 of Romans.
There were three periods in his life.
When he was converted, he thought he could live the Christian life.
He thought that it would be easy, but he was wrong because he couldn’t do it.
He said, “For the good that I would, I do not: But the evil which I would not, that I do” (Rom. 7:19).
Paul found out, not only was there no good in his old nature, but there was also no strength or power in the new nature.
Finally, we hear him crying out, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24).
Then something happened, and in verse 25 he says, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…”
He is the one you are going to have to thank because that is where your help is going to come from, through Him.
And Paul went on to say, “…So then with the mind, I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Rom. 7:25).
That is the way it is with all of us.
We have that old nature, and it cannot do anything that will please God.
In fact, Paul went on to say that it was against God.
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7-8).
We cannot please God in the flesh.
Paul found victory by yielding to the Spirit of God.
What the law could not do, the Spirit is now able to do in our lives.
How does one do it?
It is not until you and I yield to Him that we can please Him.
To yield is an act of the will of a born again Christian, who is submitting himself to the will of God.
And that is exactly what Jacob did.
Jacob won, but he got the victory, not by fighting and struggling, but by yielding.
What a picture we have here in him, and we are told that all these things happened to those we read about in the Bible, for examples to us.
That’s what it says in 1 Corinthians 10:11, “All these things happened to them as examples--as object lessons to us--to warn us against doing the same things; they were written down so that we could read about them and learn from them in these last days as the world nears its end. (Living)
So let’s learn from the story of Jacob, and the experience of Paul and yield ourselves to Christ first to Salvation and then to service.