An Almighty Lesson

(1) “And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; . . .” (2) “And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved. . . .” (3) “Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:” (Genesis 35:11; 43:14; 49:25)

These three “Almighty” references stand out as verbal mileposts along the rocky road that made up Jacob’s life. The first was Jehovah’s revelation of His own omnipotence, followed by a promise. The second was spoken by Jacob many years later. It was the fatalistic cry of a man who remembered what to believe about God, but had never really brought himself to bow to it in humble submission. At this moment, after having made such a mess of his life, he had little hope of experiencing God’s joy ever again.

But what about the third verse? It was the shout of a changed man. There was hope in those words. There was excitement! There was confidence.

Why the huge change? Remember, this sneaky twin was a rascal of the first order and a terror to many of those unlucky enough to have faced him in business. He swindled his brother, he lied to his father, he cheated his uncle, and he humiliated his children. Because of his history of raunchy deals, Jacob headed into his later years with a soul weighed down by sour memories. Add to this the continual mourning for a favorite son he thought was dead and you have a textbook example of misery. The wild oats had sprouted and years of reaping the mature grains of his deceit had left him tired and cynical.

So again, what happened in the last seventeen years of his life? What erased the pessimism and bitterness that had built up in the previous one hundred and thirty years?

They were swallowed up in the grace of the God who proved to him the reality of His all powerful wisdom. Against all odds, He had preserved Jacob’s favorite son Joseph in Egypt. Then, through an almost unbelievable orchestration of events, He arranged for the two to embrace again.

Nearly two centuries before, Jehovah had presented Himself to Jacob’s grandfather Abraham as the Almighty God. The Scriptural record then confirms that his father Isaac passed on to him this wonderful knowledge and charged him to believe it.

But Rachel’s darling son had a very high opinion of his own savvy. He was not very interested in knowing God or learning about His almighty character. Oh, he finally passed the test alright, but he went about it the long, hard way. In the process he made a first class wreck of his life. Fortunately, the One who promised to bless him does not forget His promises . . . even if His children blow it.

Have we learned the lesson? If so, no human force or circumstance will shake our peace for very long. King David reminds us in Psalm ninety-one that we have a refuge and a fortress in the shadow of the Almighty. And then, at the closing of the Book of the Revelation, we are told to expect a city that has no need for temple, or sun, or light . . . for God Almighty dwells there.

Dear Father, I am too inclined to forget Your Almighty nature, or ignore its implications. In thoughts and attitudes and actions I often reveal how shallow my faith really is. Forgive me, Lord. Amen.