In message 75 of the Life-study of Genesis, we come to a precious section concerning Jacob’s experience of being broken (Gen. 32:22-32). In considering this section of the Word and applying it to our own experience, Witness Lee poses 4 questions: Why did God come to wrestle with Jacob as a man? Why was God not able to overcome Jacob? Why did God wait so long before finally touching Jacob’s thigh? And why did God not tell Jacob His name in the end? In response to the first question, we see that many times when the Lord deals with us, we do not realize that it is the Lord. “We think that our husband, our wife, or an elder [in the church] is affording us a difficult time. Eventually, we realize that… it is God who is here dealing with us.” In response to the second and third questions, we see that often God allows us to wrestle with Him for a long time until our natural life is fully exposed. “Here the dealing is not with anything sinful; it is with the natural life, with the natural man. It takes a long time to expose our natural life.” Finally, in response to the fourth question, we see that God’s dealing with us is always a secret. God may not tell us His name directly, but afterwards we realize that we have seen God face to face (32:30). After God touched Jacob’s thigh, signifying his natural life, Jacob was still natural and untransformed. However, a visible limp now accompanied everything Jacob did. In other words, Jacob’s natural life had been irrevocably dealt with by God.
In message 76, we go on to consider Jacob’s experience after being broken. After Jacob was delivered from the hands of both Laban and Esau, he settled in Succoth where he “built him an house, and made booths for his cattle” (33:17). Succoth was on the east side of the Jordan and not in the land of Canaan, where God intended for Jacob to go. This shows that Jacob was still living in his natural life, caring only for himself and for his livelihood. However, in the next verse, we see that Jacob eventually realized this, crossed over the Jordan, and journeyed to Shechem. At Shechem, Jacob erected a tent and built an altar, indicating that he began to live the proper “Christian life” in New Testament terms. Even though this was a sign of progress and Jacob was secure and satisfied in Shechem, God’s goal as revealed to Jacob in his dream in Genesis 28 still had not been reached. This goal is Bethel, the house of God on earth where God can rest and be expressed. Because of this, God sovereignly allowed Jacob’s only daughter Dinah to be defiled and two of his sons to attack the city. These events deeply affected Jacob and forced him to leave Shechem to finally journey to Bethel.
In message 77, Witness Lee presents a bird’s-eye view of God’s building in the scriptures. First, we see that the goal of God’s economy is not salvation, which is simply a procedure to reach the goal. “God’s goal is the building of His eternal dwelling place. This building is the church today and the New Jerusalem in eternity.” This is why the Jesus in Acts 4:12, in whose name is salvation, is also the stone in verse 10. In other words, Jesus is the stone that was rejected by the Jewish builders but who became the cornerstone that joined the Gentile and Jewish believers together as God’s building (1 Pet. 2:4-5). Therefore, our gospel messages today must impress people that God’s redemption in Christ is not merely to save us from perdition. Rather, it is to make us stones to constitute His building, His dwelling place. This governing principle can be traced throughout both the Old and the New Testaments, consummating in the New Jerusalem in Revelation. If we see this, we will understand why God needed Jacob to return to Bethel, the house of God. “Our burden today is for this. This burden is not a matter of a doctrine, but of the Lord’s building of His church. We all must say, ‘Lord, help me to get through all other things. Lord, I only care for the building of Your church.’” May the Lord gain us for His building today.
To read online: Living Stream Ministry
To listen to the corresponding radio broadcasts with commentary: LSM Radio