The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? -- Jeremiah 17:9
Monday, October 19, 2015
As you may know, the name “Jacob” means “supplanter”, i.e., “tripping up insidiously by the heel”. Jacob went so far as to deceive (with his mother’s help – probably a whole other study) his own father in order to obtain the blessing he desired.
There is always a danger and a snare that we risk deceiving ourselves as we attempt to obtain desired blessings from God. To deceive God is impossible – and we realize that, for the most part. Instead the heart hides from its intentions and refuses to accept and acknowledge its own motives and desires. We justify our actions and do our best to make them sound noble, generous, and merciful. All the sickness gets projected outward to those around us, the “system”, society, or even to God who is too harsh or demanding or judgmental or whatever it may be.
Jacob – and we are all Jacob – cheated his brother and fled from his justifiable anger. But we have to wonder if Esau was all that bent on murder. There’s no doubt that Jacob deserved a sound and solid whipping. When the brothers meet after 20 years, Esau isn’t even concerned about that, and Jacob had found one more deceitful than himself in Laban at whose hands he had suffered.
Often, when we deceive ourselves, we live in fear because something deep inside tells us we have acted perversely. In fact, it could be that fear and dread are among the most common and sure signs that we have tried to fool ourselves. If I find an area of fear in my life, I should look closely at it. If I face it, I may find myself undeceived, as Jacob was. It was on his way to deal with his deceptive heart that Jacob met the Angel of the Lord and wrestled with Him at ford of the Jabbok which he renamed Peniel for he had seen God face-to-face.
As they struggled, the Lord asked a question of Jacob: And he said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob (Genesis 32:27). That is, he said, I am the deceptive one, the supplanter, the one who surreptitiously trips my brother from behind. When God had the confession and the heart exposed, He could make a change: Then he said, Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed (Genesis 32:28).
Or, as John told us: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Tell the truth.