Jacob was a man who learnt experimentally what it meant to be broken. We can learn many truths from
One excellent thing about the Bible is that it is absolutely honest in recording the faults and failings of its
greatest men. The Scriptures do not portray marble saints. We see in the Word of God, men and women
exactly as they were – warts and all. This is why the biographies of Biblical characters are a greater
encouragement to us than many biographies written in our day (which invariably hide the failings of the
men they describe, and present them as super-saints).
Jacob was a man of like passions as we are. He was called of God, no doubt, and eternally predestined to
be a chosen vessel for the working out of the Divine purposes. But he had a corrupt and deceitful heart,
just like ours. God calls ordinary people to His service – not supermen. Very often, He calls the base and
the despised and the weak of the world, to fulfill His purposes. He puts no premium whatever on human
cleverness and ability in His service.
Jacob must have met with God many times in his life. But in the record given us in Genesis, there are two
meetings with God that stand out. The first at Bethel, where he dreamt of a ladder reaching up to Heaven,
and where he said, “This is the house of God” (Gen. 28:10-22). The second at Peniel, where he wrestled
with God and where he said, “I have seen God face to face” (Gen. 32:24-32). Between these two incidents
lay twenty years.
At Bethel, we read, he stopped to camp, when the sun had set (Gen. 28:11). That of course is only a
statement indicating the time of day at which Jacob arrived at Bethel. But as we read the subsequent
record of Jacob’s life (in the next four chapters), we find that the sun had indeed set upon his life. And
during the twenty years that followed this incident, the darkness grew deeper and deeper. But that was not
the end of the story.
At Peniel, he met with God again. And there, it is recorded, immediately after his meeting with God, that
the sun rose, and he journeyed on (Gen. 32:31). Again a geographical fact – but true of Jacob’s life as
well. He was a different man from that day. The darkness passed away and the light of God shone upon
God has given us the record of Jacob’s darkness to show us that he was an ordinary man. He experienced
the same darkness that we do. But he experienced a sunrise as well. And this encourages us to believe that
no matter how great the darkness of our self-life, we can yet see the rising of the sun, if we will follow in
Jacob’s footsteps at Peniel.