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Hosea 12:3-6 -

Power with God.

The people are incited to repentance by the example of their progenitor Jacob. His wrestling for the blessing sets their unfaithfulness in darker contrast.

I. GOD 'S ELECTION DOES NOT SUPERSEDE MAN 'S EFFORT . Before Jacob was born God had said, "The elder shall serve the younger" ( Genesis 25:23 ). Yet the blessing had to be striven for, and won from God by wrestling and supplication.

1. Jacob had from the first an impulse to realize his destiny . ( Hosea 12:3 ) Even as an unconscious babe he gave token of this. He struggled in the womb ( Genesis 25:22 ). His hand took hold of the heel of his elder brother Esau as he was born ( Genesis 25:22 ). As he grew older we see the same impulse manifesting itself, not always in right ways. The catching of his brother's heel was a type of the attempts he afterwards made to take the blessing from Esau by force and guile. He got Esau to sell the birthright for a mess of pottage ( Genesis 25:29-34 ). He obtained the blessing from his father by fraud ( Genesis 27:1-46 ). The acts were indefensible, but they testify at least to his appreciation of the blessing, and to his desire to obtain it.

2. His efforts were purified as years advanced . ( Hosea 12:4 ) The blessing was at length won, but by far other means than Jacob had at first employed. It was won from God by earnest, agonizing supplication. The narrative is given in Genesis 32:24-32 . There Jacob, as a prince, had power with God, and prevailed ( Genesis 32:28 ).

II. GOD PUTS HIMSELF IN MAN 'S POWER , THAT MAN MAY OBTAIN BLESSING FROM HIM .

1. He draws near to man . God drew near to Jacob at Peniel. He seemed to be a" man," but Jacob recognized in his mysterious Visitant an angel—that Angel of the covenant in whom God's Name was. He accordingly laid hold of him, wrestled with and entreated him, and would not let him go till he had blessed him. So there are awful moments in our experience when, "left alone," the infinite Presence draws near to us, overshadows us, touches us, invites us to wrestle with it for the supreme good of existence.

2. He gives man power . If Jacob wrestled prevailingly with God, it was because God gave him power to do so. It is in God's own strength that we wrestle with God. God puts himself in our power, not crushing us by his majesty, but meeting us as on a human footing, and permitting us to prevail over him.

3. He invites man ' s requests . Jacob "wept, and made supplication." Prayer is a real wrestling. God wills man thus to wrestle with him. He gives us the promise of blessing if we ask, seek, and knock ( Matthew 7:7 , Matthew 7:8 ). Jacob's prayer was

Jesus prayed "with strong crying and tears," and "was heard in that he feared" ( Hebrews 5:7 )

III. IN TYPICAL CASTS LIKE JACOB 'S, GOD PLEDGES HIS GRACE TO THE GENERATIONS THAT COME AFTER . Jacob was:

1. Israel ' s patriarch head . "He found him in Bethel; there he spake with us" ( Genesis 32:4 ). The promises given at Bethel had reference to the descendants ( Genesis 35:9-12 ). The blessing was to be theirs also, if they chose to claim it as Jacob had done.

2. An example . He who spake with Jacob was "the Lord God of hosts: the Lord is his Name" ( Genesis 32:5 ). The unchangeability of God is our guarantee that, if we act as Jacob did, we shall meet with like reward.

3. The consequent duty . "Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually." There is here indicated the need:

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