How To Be Transformed
Title: How to be transformed
Scripture Reading: Genesis 32:24
Jacob was on his way to the land of his fathers, but he was troubled at the thought of meeting his brother Esau. Years before (to be exact, 21 years ago), Jacob and his mother had formed a plan to secure the blessing that Isaac was going to give to Esau.
Romans 8:7 says ‘the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.’ Jacob was definitely carnal. He succeeded in his carnal plan. But that doesn’t mean that God approves of it. Many of us pursue our carnal plan but that doesn’t mean that God approves of it too.
We remember that when he left his family and on the way to Laban’s house, he rested his head on a stone in Bethel and had a dream. In his dream, he saw a ‘ladder and its top reached to the heaven’ (Gen 28:12-15). Above the ladder, Jacob saw God and heard Him say: ‘The land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.’ He also heard God tell him: ‘I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you. What a good thing for Jacob that in the middle of carrying out his own plan, God found him at the right place.
The trickery to obtain the birthright had not been the honorable thing to do, but here at Bethel, he found that God was with him. Many things may happen in our lives, but we see the tender compassion of God that covers us all the time.
How glorious is our God. He refused to have His plan of grace frustrated by the carnal workings of our mind. I find this very true in my life. God doesn’t allow the carnal workings of my mind frustrate the Plan of Grace He had for me all along. It is the goodness of the Lord that leads to repentance. I believe that Jacob really did some repenting that night, 21 years later, as he was made aware of his own meanness.
In the reproof of life, many things may happen in our lives to show us how depraved we are by nature, but when the veil is lifted, we see how merciful and tender God is. His tender compassion is over us all the time. Proverbs 15:31 says ‘The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.’ When we receive the reproof of life, given by God, according to the word (the awakened word),given in a warm, fervent, and lively manner, with zeal, and in good earnest; which reproves the life of ours, we are wise to ponder and obey. God sets himself at a distance from those who set him at defiance. There are 4 experiences that Jacob went through that God that we can learn from.
(1) Jacob’s fear
When Jacob was returning to the land of his birth, his heart was filled with fear. If he ever needed the Lord, it was this time. And he just wanted to be alone with God. Genesis 32:22-23 says his wives, his children, his sheep, his cattle, his camels, and his donkeys had gone on.’ And Genesis 32:24 says ‘Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day’. His family, his earthly possession couldn’t solve this problem of his. His wives could not make atonement for him; his children could not make atonement for him; his money was useless to help him. Jacob knew that his brother had the power to take away all that he had, and to execute vengeance upon him. Esau had become very rich. Esau had been blessed abundantly in the things of this world. He had authority and power to take all that Jacob had and to take vengeance upon him. Jacob knew this. Jacob knew that no one else could deliver him but God. How about you? Are you at a point in life where if you ever needed God, it is now?
I think it is good to be brought to a point in life, where our heart is filled with fear, where if you ever need the Lord, it is that moment. It is good to see for the first time that our enemy could take away all that we have. Our enemy could take vengeance upon us by sending judgment. It is good to see that our needs could wipe us clean. It is a blesseth thing to finally discover that no one else could deliver us but God. It is good to have this revelation that we are alone, lean in soul and impoverished in spirit. Jacob had been away for more than twenty years. Maybe we are like Jacob. Jacob was a diligent worker, and he would go through any hardship if he could on his own. In numerous situations, he had his way; all the while, he was ignorant of how God preserved him from calamity. But Jacob experienced twenty-one years of wandering, fighting, and struggling.
Listen to his conversation with his wives, ‘Your father deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me’ (Gen 31:7). To his father-in-law Jacob said in Gen 31:42 ‘Unless the God of my father had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands.’ I want to remind you that like Jacob, God has preserved you all these years. But the reproof of life always finally takes it tolls. The reproof of life in those twenty-one years had affected Jacob. The reproof of life had wrought brokenness in Jacob’s old nature; because all pride he had living in Laban’s world had disappeared. Moses was also that way. The desert had wrought brokenness in Moses’ old nature, because all pride he had from living in Pharaoh’s palace had disappeared. Moses was no longer a self-sufficient man, but a broken, simple, and humble man that felt unable to do things on his own. I think it is good to come to that experience in life. Because good things come out of hard times. The harder the place you are in, the more blessing can come out of it as you yield to His plan.
(2) Jacob alone with God
The Lord saw Jacob’s needs and came down to meet him. It was the LORD who wrestled with Jacob, the supplanter, breaking him, changing him, transforming him. Jacob on his part met with God. Oh how we need to get alone with God, to be broken, to be changed, to be transformed. And when we do meet with Him, He interposes (to come in between things in our lives), and all care and strife are brought to an end. Get alone with God, and receive the revelation of His infinite grace and His wonderful purposes and plans for your life.
This picture of Jacob left alone is so real to me. I can imagine his thoughts that night. He would recollect about the ladder and the angels. I somehow think that, as he begins to pray, his tongue would stick to the roof of his mouth. He doesn’t know what to say. He knew he had to get rid of a lot of things. In days gone by, his focus had been upon himself. Trying to get the inheritance of Isaac was for his own self advancement. When we get alone with God, what a place of revelation it is. What a revelation of self. And also what a revelation of the provision that is made for us at Calvary. It is here we get a revelation of a life crucified with Christ, buried with Him, raised with Him, transformed by Him and empower by the Holy Spirit. Hour after hour passed. Oh that we might spend a whole night alone with God. We are so occupied with the things of this world and time. We need to give God much time in order to receive God’s word for us. God’s word is our food. If we do not edify ourselves with God’s word, our needs will not be met. We need to get past all the thoughts of earthly matters that crowded it so rapidly. I believe that every child of God, if he ever wants to advance in life with God, needs the Jacob experience. We need to spend a whole night alone with God. It takes God time to deal with us. If He would only deal with us as He dealt with Jacob, then we would have power with Him, and we would prevail.
(3) Jacob’s tears
Jacob was not dry-eyed that night. Hosea 12:4 tells us, ‘He (Jacob) wept, and sought favor from Him’. Jabez cried. Hannah cried when she was barren. Rachel cried when she saw her enemy having so many children and she had none. `John the Baptist was the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Jesus also wept at the Garden of Gethsemane when He was alone with God. Hebrew 5:7 says ‘Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.’
I believe Jacob went through a similar experience like Jesus, though smaller in scale. We have to ask ourselves this question; have we in our life ever ‘in the days of our flesh, when we offer up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save us from death, and was heard in that we feared.’ If we have not, then, that is the reason why we have failed and continue to fail in life.
Jacob knew that he had been a disappointment to the Lord. But that night he humbled himself and act in a hopeless manner, as in great fear or utter servility. Figuratively he lies or crawls with the face downward and the body prostrate, especially in miserable humility, fear. It was his posture that night I believed that God gave him a nickname the worm. Isaiah 41:14 says ‘Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.’ But that night, he saw the possibility of transformation.
How about us? We had been a disappointment to God. I want to speak to a group here. You are in a strange place of spiritual deadness for years. Your deadness has become mysterious. This deadness has become demonic and you need to get out of it. This deadness is preventing you from receiving the true blessings of God. And you know that you had been a disappointment to God. Looking back in your spiritual journeys, you have held and insisted to your own way too much of the time. And now you had come to the end of yourself. God can begin to take control. Amos 3:3 says ‘Can we walk together unless they be agreed?’ But you see the possibility of being transformed from a supplanter to a prince with God. Jacob’s name means supplanter.
Maybe for others you had been supplanting others all these years. And you have come to the end of your plans. You have lived the carnal ways and you have never subjected yourself to the law of God and it has caught up with you. Many of us are supplanters in our world today. We may experience a measure of success, but God is not first in our lives. For another group, you have experience some success in life, but you also undergo trials, hardship, and barrenness that God would have kept them from you if you have followed God all the way. The testing hour came when, at the break of day, the angel, who was none other than the Lord, and Master himself said, ‘let me go, for the day breaks’. This is where we so often fail.
Jacob knew that if God went without blessing him, Esau could not be met. You cannot meet the terrible things that await you in the world unless you secure the blessing of God. You must never let go. Whatever you are seeking; light on the pathway of life, some particular thing –never let go. If you are in darkness, if you need a fresh revelation, if your mind needs relief, if there are problems you cannot solve, lay hold of God and declare, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’
When we are broken, we must hold fast. If we let go, we will fall short. If ever God is disappointed with you when you wait in His presence, it will be because you are not fervent. If you are not serious and intense, you disappoint God. If God is with you and you know it, be in earnest. Pray and believe: ‘Hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.’ (Hebrew 3:6) Jacob was that way. God said, ‘You are not real enough; you are not hot enough; you are too ordinary; you are no good to Me unless you are filled with zeal.’ If you are left alone with God and you cannot get a place of victory, it is a terrible time. You must never let go, whatever you are seeking – fresh revelation, light for your path, some particular need – never let go. Victory is ours if we are earnest enough. All must pass through that experience.
(4) Jacob, the lame
In wrestling, the strength is in the neck, the breast, and the thigh, but the greatest strength is in the thigh. The Lord touched Jacob’s thigh. The next morning, as the sun rose, Jacob limped on his hip.
You may ask, ‘What is the use of a lame man’. The bible says that Jacob walked with a limp from that day onward. Isaiah 33:23 says ‘The Lame take the prey’. The verse implies the condition of being unable or imperfectly able to walk. It refers to an incident from an evil address by Sennacherib set out to plunder the spoil of Hezekiah and his countrymen’s wealth. Hezekiah and his people were so feeble but it turns out that God intervened and so plundered instead Sennacherib and his spoil. That much booty would be taken from the army of the Assyrian and distributed among the Jews.
It shall be so abundant, and shall be so entirely abandoned by the Assyrians, that even the feeble and the defenseless shall go forth to the camp and take the spoil that is left. Prior to this incident, Hezekiah had given Sennacherib three hundred talents of silver, and thirty of gold (2Ki 18:14-16), and had stripped the temple of its gold to give it to him; this treasure was probably part of the prey found in the foe’s camp. It implies God will return and restore back to us what the enemy has plundered from us. After the invasion, Hezekiah had so much wealth. There is a book written entitled ‘The lame take the prey’ by Owen Nlekwuwa In the synopsis it says ‘Have you ever paused to consider that it is the lame that often snatches the prey? Very often in life, unusual breakthroughs come from the least expected vessels” the despised, the downcast, and the lowly rated.
These are God’s best materials for His glory. Or how do you explain Albert Einstein, who had a very poor beginning in his academics yet became one of the greatest scientists on earth”, a 1921 Nobel Prize winner whose theories revolutionized the world of science? What about David, a little shepherd boy, defeating Goliath the giant and becoming king over Israel?
In a rare combination of spiritual insight, depth, and a profound grasp of the subject matter, Pastor Owen Nlekwuwa unveils the truth that empowers and propels lameness on to greatness. You can indeed take on your Goliath and defeat him in spite of your deficiencies. Mrs. Charles E. Cowman wrote for “And thus, on and on, through history, and all biography, and all vegetation, and all spiritual life, GOD must have BROKEN THINGS. Those who are broken in wealth, and broken in self-will, and broken in their ambitions, and broken in their beautiful ideals, and broken in worldly reputation, and broken in their affections, and broken oftentimes in health, those who are despised and seem utterly forlorn and helpless, the Holy Ghost is seizing upon, and using for God’s glory.
It is in our nothingness that God will take over and plunder our enemy and gives us the wealth of the wicked. I believe we will come out of that experience of life, where a scar remains. It is a reminder. It also brings us to a place of dependence upon God. We know we are nothing without God. I am absolutely nothing without the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. If you are not there, get alone with God. If you must, spend a whole night alone with God, and let Him change and transform you. Never let Him go until He blesses you, until He makes you an Israel, a prince with God.
And God blessed him: ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel (Gen 32:28). The change of Jacob to Israel was wonderful. Now Jacob has power over Esau, power over the world, power over the cattle. All is in subjection as he comes out of the great night of trial. What happened after that? Read How God blessed and honored him. Esau meets him. There is no fighting now. What a blessed state. When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him’. (Prov 16:7) He knew he had the favor of God, and that no man could hurt him.