Sword of JoshuaSword of JoshuaSword of Joshua


Copyright © Jules Dervaes

February 18, 1984

Once upon a time, many, many years ago, in a far away land, there lived a prince of a man. And on one dark and lonely night he had a close encounter with a super man from another world. “Hold everything,” you say. “What is this? A fairy tale?” No, I’m not telling you any fairy tale. This narrative does make a very nice children’s story; but it is not fiction. And it is definitely not for children–only. What you’ll be hearing about is a very real, historical, true-life drama that has a tremendous significance for adults of all ages. Today, if you will learn this lesson, your life will be deeply affected. Right now, this lesson can change your life, yours, yours, yours, and mine.

My purpose is to tell you about this one man’s colossal struggle to prevail, and to encourage you to follow his example, and to fight for your life–to fight for your eternal life.

Now, continuing on with my story…

It all happened when the now seventy-four year old patriarch Jacob was returning from his self-imposed exile to the land of his father. He was on the way back to claim the promised inheritance that he had left twenty years ago. God Himself had appeared to Jacob, telling him that God would give him this land. He said, “I will be with you and you will prosper and your descendants will prosper.”

However, now he was facing a crisis that could spell disaster for him and for all that he held dear. His brother Esau, from whom he had taken the promises by deception, was fast approaching with four hundred men; and Jacob feared that Esau would soon make good his threat to kill him because Jacob had tricked Esau from those promises. Jacob chose this moment to be alone in his camp by the Jabbok River, to meditate and to pray for God’s help to overcome in this matter of life and death. It was time to reflect on his past sins of not trusting God fully and doing it his own way.

Genesis 32:24 states what happened next. It was night. Suddenly, out of the dark, a stranger jumped Jacob; and there began a wrestling match that was to last through the entire night. This was no ordinary contest. Jacob’s opponent was no ordinary man but the Angel of the covenant, the Logos, the One who would later come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. What an opponent! His strength and endurance would be pitted against Jacob’s. As daybreak neared, the Angel desired to quit and be on His way. But Jacob would not throw in the towel. So the Angel touched Jacob’s hip and immediately his leg was wrenched out of joint. Limping and in pain, then sweating and on the ground, Jacob held on with an even tighter hold. For him, everything was on the line; the stakes were super high. It was all if he won; nothing if he lost. It was his last chance. Certainly, there would be no rematch.

Do you grasp this? Here was Jacob, the mortal man, realizing his sinful past, knowing deeply his unworthiness, having God Himself, the Almighty, the all powerful Creator of the universe, in a wrestling hold, possibly a half-nelson lock, crying out to God, declaring, “I want and need those blessings that You promised me; and I’m not going to let go until You give them to me!”

Do you comprehend what happened here? Jacob’s opponent was not Satan but God Himself. God was personally intervening in this man’s life to try his faith–the faith that would be necessary for Jacob to overcome his past and to face the future. He was chosen to match strength and endurance against the supreme standards of God. He was repentant, yes; but he was also bold and daring. And he prevailed through faith because he desired the promises and would not let them slip through his grasp.

Do we face any such tests of faith? Do we ever??? Our faith is on the line. In a way we find ourselves in the very same situation as Jacob. What should we do? Hebrews 12:12 says it very shortly and simply. The NIV reads: “Strengthen your feeble arms and your weak knees.” Jacob, to prevail, had to have physically strong arms and physically strong knees to go through the night. But, as spiritual prevailers, we need spiritually strong arms and spiritually strong knees. Let me illustrate the type of hold that is needed with our arms when facing a test of faith. It’s not a casual, slippery hold, as if we were holding a gum wrapper; but, rather, the clutching hold, as if we were grabbing a life-preserver and holding on for dear life. And the type of stance with our knees should be not a buckling under, as if we were getting out of bed after a prolonged illness; but a standing-your-ground posture, as if we were a guard at Buckingham Palace.

By using these two keys of the wrestler, the strong arms of unyielding faith and the strong knees of prevailing prayer, we, too, can wrestle for our God-given promises as Jacob did. Jacob prevailed and, therefore, he received, not just the material inheritance from his earthly father, but an even greater reward of much more value. He received his place as a ruler in the Kingdom from his heavenly Father. To signify this new relationship with Him, God changed his name to Israel, meaning “he who struggled with God and prevailed.” Aren’t we called Israelites? God is certainly caring enough about us to try us. But, when He does, we can be true to our namesake. We can be those who also struggle with God and those who also prevail.

Personally, when I find myself in a spiritual wrestling match and my faith and future is on the line, I try now to look to Jacob and to his struggle to prevail. And then I tell myself, “Hold on; just hold on and don’t let go!”

Each one of us is on the verge of entering the spiritual promised land. All is at stake. This is our one chance. How badly do we want the promises? How long will we hold on? We are today wrestling for our place in God’s Kingdom. Keep holding on as an Olympic gold medal wrestling champion. Whatever you do, keep holding on. Lay claim to the promises. They are yours! Lunge at them and lock onto them. Ask God to spiritually strengthen your arms and knees. Ask Him now to give you the strong arms of unyielding faith and the strong knees of prevailing prayer to overcome. Simply ask God for this and then lay hold of God as Jacob lay hold of the Angel and say, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”

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