PART TWO: The Process
Transformation Meditations: 9. Our Need reiterated
Gen 25:26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob
In the previous series on Redemption we looked at some of the Old Testament characters to see how they had changed. Now I wish to look at some of these people and see why they changed. What are the general principles that apply – in both Old & New Testaments – that are part of the process of transformation in our lives.
But before we start looking at the different elements of the process of transformation, perhaps by way of a link between Parts 1 and 2, I want to take one of the characters we’ve seen in the past series and use him as a type or example of what we are all like, and thus our need of transformation.
There is no better choice for this, I believe, than Jacob. After our verse above, telling how this twin was born after his brother Esau, there is a footnote in your Bible: “he grasps the heel, a Hebrew idiom for he deceives.” Jacob, from the outset (like it was part of him, his very nature) was that he was a grabber, a deceiver. Later in his teenage years (probably), Jacob took advantage of his hungry and weak brother and made him sell him his birth-right, the right as the older son to inherit the main share of the family inheritance. (Gen 25:33). Still later he purposefully schemed to get his aging and three-quarters blind father to give him the family blessing (Gen 27), and so the story continues, and every step of the way Jacob is still doing his thing.
Now you may not like this parallel with each of us that I suggested above but there are two characteristics of Jacob that I believe constitute what the Bible calls ‘Sin’. He was godless (had no knowledge of God for his own life) and he was self-centred (he planned, schemed, plotted etc. to achieve his own ends), and as a result his thinking, his words and his actions, were unrighteous. Now before anyone comes to God through Christ, this is exactly how they are, and it is how you were (whether you were aware of it or not).
It doesn’t matter how ‘nice’ you may be or even how ‘respectable’ you may be, if God is not the centre of your life and if you have not trusted His way for your salvation (the death of Jesus on the Cross) then all you have is your own wisdom working for your own self and seeking to achieve your own outcomes (ambition), whether you do it by ‘being nice’ or ‘being respectable’, you are still doing it, i.e. you are self-centred. You may not wish to acknowledge it, but the truth will be that as a consequence you have not always thought, said or done what is good or right, i.e. you sinned.
The crucial turning point in Jacob’s life was the night when he ‘wrestled with God’ (Gen 32:24), You and I wrestle with God when His Spirit seeks to convict us of the truth about ourselves. Some of us struggle with God for days, weeks or even months. I had an old friend who struggled and argued with God for months until in his own words, “I painted myself into a corner and had to surrender.” There is another aspect of Jacob’s surrender, but we’ll leave that for another time. A key thing to note is that God gave him a new name. Instead if Jacob (twister) he became Israel, – ‘he struggled with God and prevailed’ meaning ‘he struggled with God until he could struggle no more and was made to surrender’. When we can struggle no more and we surrender, we are ‘born again’ of the Spirit of God (Jn 3) so, apostle Paul said, “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor 5:17)
OK, now we are ready to start looking at some of the specific elements that we see in the Bible that contribute to this process of transformation.