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Your Arm's Too Short to Box with God

A look at life's hardest—but most important—battle
This sermon is part of the sermon series A Messy, Blessed Life.See series.


Jacob was facing the biggest crisis of his life. Esau, the twin brother he had conned out of both birthright and blessing, was coming his way with 400 men. Jacob couldn't turn back. He had vowed before God that he wouldn't return to the land of his uncle, Laban. Jacob had to meet Esau tomorrow, and for once, he had nothing up his sleeve.

Jacob had done everything he could do. He had no army. For all we know, he didn't even have a weapon. To prepare, Jacob had done just three things: he had divided his camp so that at least half might be spared; he had sent five herds of more than 550 animals ahead as gifts to pacify Esau; and he had prayed. The most important of these things was prayer. He reached back to grab onto God's promises and bent low to admit how unworthy he was of all God's goodness. He had prayed that most basic of all prayers: "Save me, I pray, for I am afraid."

The treasured life God had promised to his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham was almost within in his grasp. It was just on the other side of this little river, Jabbok. And just like all the other times, there was Esau in the way. His old nemesis. This was the story of his life! Esau had elbowed his way ahead of Jacob when they came out of the womb, and now he was in the way again.

Jacob had nothing to do but count the dark hours. It was late and tomorrow was D-Day. One way or another, he and Esau would have it out, once and for all. Like I said already, this time Jacob didn't have a trick up his sleeve. No red stew. No goat-hair disguise. He knew he couldn't fight. He had sent all his animals and all his family across the river ahead of him—everything he had—and now he sat there alone. I think Jacob was earnestly trying to trust ...

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Lee Eclov recently retired after 40 years of local pastoral ministry and now focuses on ministry among pastors. He is the author of Feels Like Home: Reflections on the Care of Souls and Pastoral Graces: Reflections on the Care of Souls (Moody Publishers), as well as being a frequent contributor to Preaching Today and CT Pastors. To learn more about his Pastors' Gatherings visit www.leeeclov.com.

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Sermon Outline:


I. Why would Almighty God, Creator of the Universe, Omnipotent Lord of Hosts, ever need to struggle?

II. How does the Almighty God struggle with us so as not to destroy us?