Summary: Part IV of a six week series demonstrating how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
The phrase “God Bless you” is said to have been originated by St. Gregory the Great, in the year 594 AD. +He appointed a formal prayer to be said to people who sneezed.
At that time it was believed that the air was filled with dangerous impurities and that those who sneezed violently were in danger of expelling their souls, and that this danger could be counteracted by a proper prayer or phrase.
+The idea of blessing someone originates from the writings of the Old Testament. +The original word for blessing is the Hebrew word: Barak, which literally means, “to bend the knee.” In relation to blessing God, you bend your knees before Him in honor, expressing gratitude. You Bless Him. E.g. remember when, in Gen. Ch. 24, Abraham sent his servant to find a suitable wife for his son Isaac. After miraculously finding Rebekah the servant in ch. 24 verse 48 recounts the situation and says +he “bowed down and worshipped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham…” He literally “bowed down” “Barak” and blessed the Lord.
+In the culture of the Old Testament the “Blessing” from one to another was asking for +God’s blessings of prosperity, +well being, +physical as well as spiritual healing or +gifts upon a person. +The blessing might entail asking God to grant long life, or +power from God on to a person. Since the very beginning of creation God has offered His blessings to mankind. God blessing individuals started back in Gen. Ch. 1:28 + “God blessed them and said to them be fruitful and multiply (why was math so important to God?). and again in ch. 5:2 + “He created them male and female and blessed them…”
• +God blessed the Egyptians and caused them to prosper because of Joseph. Gen. ch. 39
• +God blessed his servant Isaac with Gold, Cattle, sheep, men and women servants, Gen. 24
• +God blessed Obed-Edom and His entire household for protecting the Ark of the Covenant. 2Sam ch. 6.
• +When Solomon asked for wisdom instead of riches, God blessed him with both wisdom and riches in abundance 1 Kings ch. 3.
• +God blessed Noah Gen. Ch. 9.
• +God blessed Abraham. Gen. Ch. 12.
• In Leviticus, leaders asked for +God’s divine blessings upon the people
• +Families blessed members who were beginning long journeys.
• +Priests blessed individuals as well as the entire congregation.
• And as we approach the New Testament, we see that Jesus asks His followers to “bless those that curse them.”
Once the blessing was spoken, it couldn’t be taken back. For example, in +Numbers ch. 23, where a prophet of Baal blessed the people of God and those listening understood that the blessing was irrevocable.
This is +the backdrop to the life of Jacob. +A culture which thoroughly understood the importance of the spoken blessing from one’s parents and from one’s God.
Jacob was born the second of twins. His brother’s name was Esau. His Father and Mother: Isaac and Rebekah. Jacob’s parents were chosen by God. But as we’re learning in this series: being chosen doesn’t mean being perfect. Jacob’s father favored Esau and the mother favored Jacob. +Jacob’s name means, “heel catcher” it’s a play on words for one who tricks or deceives, so one who catches the heel of another. When the first twin Esau was born, Jacob followed grasping onto his brother’s foot. Jacob’s name constantly connected him to his brother. Had he been the first born son, he would have been entitled to 2/3rds of the inheritance, the honor of passing on the family name, with all the privileges and the blessings from his father, Isaac. But, Jacob wasn’t first, wasn’t special, and wasn’t blessed. Born second... “grasping the heel”… close but not close enough. Jacob’s father would never love him the way he loved his twin brother Esau.
I’m sure that made Jacob feel like a real “heel”.
+Jacob’s whole life could be characterized by the word+ “struggle”
Jacob struggled with his brother. Gen. Ch. 25.
Jacob struggled with his father. Gen. Ch. 27.
Jacob struggled with his father-in-law. From Gen. Ch 29-31.
But, today I want to focus our study on Jacob’s final struggle, His struggle with God.
Turn to +Genesis Chapter 32:24-31.
Now Jacob has taken advantage and deceived his brother.
He has tricked his father.
And now late in Jacob’s life he has just been informed that His twin brother Esau with a large army of soldiers wants to meet with him. And Jacob is scared to death.
Here’s where we pick up our story in the life of Jacob. Jacob has just sent his people ahead to take gifts to Esau. Jacob is trying to pacify Esau into sparing his life. Jacob is all alone… or so he thinks.