i was sitting in a meeting a week or two ago. the leader shared the story of a pastor who was in south america advancing the kingdom. while there God showed him a massive ball of fire, suspended over the city; being held by a net. there were moments when small portions of the fire would fall through the net and land on the city. revival was released. however God asked the man if he wanted to know what was withholding that great "revival" from the city. without question or hesitation the man said yes. as God brought him close to the "net" he saw that it was comprised of two things: a. personal offense
b. personal relationships
i mentioned this to set a modern stage for what happened in genesis 32. Jacob is preparing to meet his older brother. i have an older brother. he was not only meeting his older brother, Esau, but the older brother from whom he stole the father's blessing. when you read genesis 32 you see such extravagance and such prosperity being released by jacob. however, what i find most interesting is what happens around verse 24. Jacob is left alone and he has an encounter with God. in genesis 28 he sees angels ascending and descending. he calls the place, "the house of God" or bethel. it's in genesis 32 that encounters God. this place is called, "the face of God" or peniel.
is it possible that we all need to see the face of God for reconciliation to happen? if the revival in austin is being held back by personal offense and the health of personal relationships (i am not saying it is, but making application from a man's experience in south america) then it is imperative that we have more than a good "house of God" that we attend or experience, but persevere for a "face to face" encounter. it was not until peniel that Jacob owned is identity as a trickster, deceiver, conman. after all who asks the other one their name in the middle of a wrestling match? God does. He is trying to get us to see something about ourselves. Not because he is ashamed or we should be ashamed. It's not because God calls us failure or screw up, but because he sees an unhealthy heart and is diagnosing such a thing.
also notice this observation. they are wrestling and scrapping all night long. Jacob says, "i will not let you go until you bless me." what blessing was he wanting? I know what blessing he got, a changed identity. Jacob asks for blessing and the angel asks for a name. Jacob owns his unredeemed and sinful pattern. he owns his identity and all the decisions that have stemmed from that root. he owns his trouble. he owns his stuff. i can hear him say, (in my mind), emphatically, "I AM JACOB, DECEIVER, CONMAN, TRICKSTER. Are you happy? Are you glad I finally admitted it?"
He was glad he owned it, and he immediately says, "You are no longer Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." Israel means "he struggles with God."
I can really relate to this. i wrestle with God for who I really am. I wrestle with "men" to live that out. I wrestle with "men" to not conform to their pattern. I wrestle with "men" to not play small. I wrestle with "men" to live out the truths that are inside of me. I wrestle with God for revelation as to who I am and to live that way. Reconciliation with my "brothers" is a result of my reconciliation with who I really am in Christ.
Paul addresses this issue of reconciliation in his second letter to the corinthians. in 5:18-19, "all this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." before i release the ministry of reconciliation i need to be reconciled to God. i am best reconciled when i have a "face to face" encounter with God and his love. once that happens and i walk in the ministry of reconciliation i'm then given the message of reconciliation. i am responsible to not only reconcile, but encourage and exhort others to do the same. this is our ambassadorial mission.
father help us all have consistent and transforming encounters with your face. may we never settle for a bethel, but strive for peniel. from this "face to face" encounter may we pursue our deepest challenges and struggles. we are more than overcomers, we are ministers of reconciliation. we call forth reconciled destinies, marriages, finances, relationships, emotional and mental health. we must have face to face encounters. we choose to be hungry for such things.
until next time....