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The Gospel makes us seeour real danger. These are the problems — not the Esaus we put up. These are the problems — my relationship to God, my relationship to myself, yes, and my real danger. Now to Jacob of course the danger was this, that Esau might rob him of a certain amount of his goods, or that Esau might kill his wives and children, or indeed that Esau might go so far as to take the life of Jacob — that to Jacob was the danger. As we look and watch him as he paces backwards and forwards, he says, “What is Esau going to do to me? I may lose this wonderful stock, that I bred in the land of Laban, I may lose it, it would be a terrible loss — I may lose my wives and children, I may lose my life, isn’t this terrible.” And he prays to God frantically. But what does God do? “Jacob,” says God, “you haven’t realized your greatest danger — your greatest danger is that you may lose your soul. Jacob,” said God to him, “these things about which you are worrying are things which of necessity sooner or later you are bound to lose. There is a day coming when you are going to die and, then you will have to lose your stock, you will have to leave your wives and children and all your possessions.… But at that moment and hour you will still have your soul and you will have to render up an account to me of that soul. I have given you that soul, Jacob — your greatest danger at this moment is the loss of your soul and not being the man I want you to be, the man with the birthright blessing — that is the danger — the wrong relationship to me that leads to wrath and punishment and hell and destruction.”…

The Gospel, I say, reveals to man that he worries and troubles about the wrong problem, it then goes on to show him the real problem, but thank God it does not stop at that. It then reveals to man the blessings of life, possibilities infinitely greater and transcending everything that man has ever thought of or dreamed of or imagined. Look at it in terms of Jacob. Jacob stands there and he says to himself, “Now what about my future, if only I can appease Esau I will cross the river, I will settle down and be a wealthy and prosperous man — I will have stock and the crop, I will have the wives and the children — that will be a wonderful life.” This is what he coveted. But when God met him there that night Jacob was given such a vision of blessing that he forgot all about Esau and his stock and crop and everything else. He saw God and he met God. God revealed to him the blessing that he had in store for him and Jacob said, “I will not let thee go, I will let my animals go, I will let my wives and children go, I will let everything go, but I will not let thee go and the blessing of God.” He had met the God who was offering him pardon for his failure, who assured him that He would place His hand upon him, who gave him there a vision of his own future as the father of a nation, the father ultimately of the Lord Jesus Christ who was to be the Savior of the world. Jacob, I believe, was given a glimpse of that — out of his seed even the Messiah shall come — and he said, “I will not let thee go. What are earthly honors and goods and possessions when I see that through me and out of this nation will come Shiloh, the Deliverer” — that is the blessing — the new name, no longer Jacob but “Israel.” And that is what the Gospel says to every man who hears it by the power of the Holy Spirit. It offers us, let me say it again, pardon, forgiveness, assurance that God blots out our sins as a thick cloud and casts them behind him. Can you think of anything greater in this world tonight than that, having your conscience cleansed, being able to face and look at God and say, “I am guilty but Christ suffered for my sin and I am free, pardoned and forgiven.” It means a new start in life, a new nature — the nature of God Himself, being made a child of God.… He offers new power and strength and new might; He will enable us to conquer old sins and get rid of the things that have spoilt and ruined our past existence; He gives us righteousness and joy and peace; He removes the fear of death and the grave; He enables you to smile at death and the grave and say, “I have gone from death to life, through judgment to eternity.” And it gives us an everlasting hope that can never fade away. In other words, what the Gospel tells us is something like this: It tells us that this world is ultimately going to be rid of sin. It tells us that Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, is coming back into this world; He is going to destroy all His enemies…. It tells us that everything that is sinful and evil is going to be taken out of the world, even out of creation itself — that there is going to be “a new heaven and a new earth in which dwelleth righteousness” and that those who are Christian are going to live in that world with Christ at their head, looking into the face of God and enjoying everlasting and eternal bless. It offers that. That is why I said at the beginning that the Gospel surprises us. It does not mean just pulling yourself together and trying to be a better man — No, no, it means that God will make you a child of His own; it means He will put His own nature into you, He will make you an heir of that bliss which I have tried to describe so inadequately; it means death will have no terror for you; you can look forward to that glorified existence. That is the blessing which He offers us. We have but to realize our need of Him, the failure of our life, the danger to the soul, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and those are the things we receive. 

An excerpt from a sermon, “The Life-Changing Meeting,” by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones from Old Testament Evangelistic Sermons, published by The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1995. Used by permission. All rights reserved. 

From Jacob to Israel

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From the April 2007 Issue
Apr 2007 Issue