“Hound of Heaven” Meditations: 2. Face it.
Gen 32:27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.
The Hound of Heaven, we said, is a phrase in a poem referring to the way God pursues us sinners. In the first study we noted how He comes after us with the express purpose of helping us face ourselves so that He may then help change us.
Perhaps nowhere is this clearer in Scripture than in the history of Jacob. His story is too long and complex to detail here. Suffice it to say that everything about him and his life shouted, “Twister, crook, cheat, deceiver!” He took the birthright from his slightly older twin brother Esau, then conned his aging father to give him the prophetic blessing reserved for the first-born son. He escapes north to Haran and spends the next decades competing with his crafty uncle Laban. He is a schemer and plotter and his very name, Jacob, means grabber, deceiver.
And yet there is something quite amazing about Jacob; it is that even before he was born, God was on his case and had told his mother that, “the older will serve the younger.” (Gen 25:23) When he was fleeing from Esau’s wrath at being cheated out of his blessing, the Lord gives him a dream and the Lord told him He would bless him, the same sort of wording He had given Abraham and Isaac previously. (Gen 28:13-15) Yet still he was not a believer, but still a schemer.
It wasn’t until many years later when he is taking his now large family, and even larger flocks and herds, home, still scheming how he could win Esau over, that God comes to him in the form of a man who wrestles with him throughout the night. Eventually the man demands, “What is your name.” No doubt through gritted teeth he utters, “Jacob.” He faces who he is and the Lord blesses him.
The end of Jacob’s story reveals an old man, now in Egypt, who is committed to return to the land God promised him, albeit after death. But before he dies he has shown he is a man honoured by the king of Egypt and, even more, he prophesies over his twelve sons and two grandsons in most remarkable ways. He is a transformed spiritual man.
If we had been observers of Jacob through his life we would have given up on him, walked away and gone to look for a more godly looking subject, but not God. God knows outcomes, potential, and possibilities, and He sees past the outside and knows what can be. That, I would suggest, is why He pursues some people, not all, but many, because He knows we will eventually respond to Him, become His children and be transformed. He is not put off by appearances but looks at the heart potential.