This sermon was preached by Tunde Oyinloye at the Ladybarn site of Christ Church Manchester on Sunday 13th January 2019.
This message was part of the ‘SERIES NAME’ series, preached at Christ Church Manchester’s church in Withington in EARLY/MID/LATE YEAR. The full series included the following sermons:
This sermon was based on Genesis 32:22-32.
Jacob Wrestles with God
22The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.
How Abraham Prayed
Abraham’s prayer is incredibly bold. Asking God for something and then asking for more and more and more. One Commentator says about this prayer: ‘Abraham is a man who just wouldn’t take yes for an answer.’ Every time God says: yes I’ll give you that, Abraham is like, ‘No, I’ve changed my mind, I want more.’
But Abraham’s not just bold in the way he talks to God but he’s also very humble in how he talks to God. In verse 27 when addressing God he says: I am nothing but dust and ashes. Very Humble. In verse 30 before talking to God he says: do not be angry at me. You see we see in the way Abraham talks to God that he is fully aware of his unworthiness before God but at the same time he is totally confident that God loves him. He knows God is holy and loving at the same time.
Abraham is praying not for himself but for the good of others. What’s more this prayer is not even for good people, deserving people, he’s praying for people who have done terrible things, this is a wicked city.
How was He Able to Pray Like That?
What was the secret to Abraham’s prayer life? Well the secret was understanding who God is. In Verse 25 Abraham says: ‘Will not the judge of all the earth do right?’ This is a rhetorical question so basically, it’s a statement. He’s saying God is a God of Justice. He is a righteous God.
Abraham knows that not only is God a God of Justice but he’s also a God of Grace. God chose to make Abraham into a great nation through which all nations would be blessed. God didn’t choose Abraham because he was a great guy. No by this stage Abraham had already let God down lots of times. God chose Abraham simply because he wanted to, another way of saying that is: God chose him by Grace. Abraham knew God is a God of Justice but also a God of Grace.
If there is no God of Justice there is no hope for the world. But if there is a God of Justice what hope is there for you and me? Abraham got so close to solving this problem. If he could just find one absolutely truly righteous person, wouldn’t God, who loves righteousness, save the many because of the righteousness of the one? The only flaw in the plan was he couldn’t find that one righteous person. Abraham prayed for Sodom, he acted a bit like a priest, he stood before God and prayed on behalf of the people, he made intercession for them. But he couldn’t quite pull it off. But many centuries later someone came who did pull it off.
How Can We Get What Abraham had and Even More?
Abraham points to Jesus the true high priest. Abraham knew there must be a way for God to uphold Justice and save people at the same time. Just knowing that enabled Abraham to have this incredibly deep relationship with God. We have a big advantage over Abraham, we know the gospel, we know that the way God upholds Justice and saves people is through Jesus at the cross. Knowing that allows us to have an even greater, passion and intimacy in prayer than even Abraham did.
Understanding that Jesus died on the cross for you creates incredible humility and boldness at the same time. Jesus dying on the cross tells us: We are so sinful that God had to die for us and that is incredibly humbling
My conclusion for this sermon was going to be: ‘Pray bold prayers and see big answers.’ Only one problem: Abraham prayed a bold prayer and didn’t get what he asked for. We read in the next chapter that Lot was saved as a result of Abraham’s prayer but he didn’t ask for Lot to be saved he asked for the city to be saved and it wasn’t. Sometimes we don’t get what we ask for | Some of you have been asking for the same thing for years and you still haven’t got it. That’s hard But you know prayer is not primarily about getting stuff, its about a relationship. A relationship between the father and his son or daughter.
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