Daily Radio Bible Podcast
Emptied Out to be Filled Up
Genesis 31- 33 and Luke 13
Do you have a walking stick? Do you have a mustard seed? We’re told that Jacob left home and had nothing but a walking stick. And God returned him with so much more. Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest seed that you plant in the garden, but when it is planted it becomes the largest of all the plants.
A walking stick and a mustard seed are both symbols of a walk of faith. They remind us that God delights in demonstrating his grandeur through things that are small and in showing his strength through things that are weak.
We also learned that this life of faith will resemble a wrestling match. You’ll wrestle with your flesh, your past, and the uncertainty of the future. You’ll have hidden gods in your tent that your earthly father can’t see, but your heavenly father can. And you’ll have to give them up in the end.
This life of faith is a wrestling match, primarily with God. And all who wrestle with God will be marked in that match. They’ll come away with a constant reminder - a sign - that walking with God is a walk of faith, not a walk in the flesh. We can put no confidence in our flesh. We’ll have a hitch in our step for the rest of our earthly lives, reminding us that a walk with God is a walk of faith. We will wrestle until we rest - until dawn comes and he touches our hip. We will wrestle until we see that it’s not me, it’s Christ in me. That’s the only way we can face the impossible journey that is ahead of us. That’s the only way that Jacob could face his brother, Esau. That’s the only way to cross the Jabbok river.
Jabbok literally means, to empty, to pour out. And Jacob, in order to cross that river and move forward into the destiny that God called him to, had to empty himself. Walking by faith will do that. God will help us to do that, just like he helped Jacob. At this point, everything Jacob has, his possessions, his wife, and his children, are all on the other side,. Here he is, all alone, waiting to cross the river - with nothing. There’s nothing behind him and no seeming future before him. He’s all alone. At that point, when he seemingly reaches the end of himself, the wrestling becomes the fiercest. He wrestles through the night until he can’t wrestle anymore. By the time dawn comes, he is spent and ready to surrender.
He emptied himself. Only then could he cross that river, moving forward into God’s destiny for him. He won by losing. By emptying himself, he saw that it was not him, but God in him, God for him.
It is only then that he received his new name. He was no longer Jacob - but Israel, because he wrestled with God and won. I imagine Jacob faced that new day by faith. He crossed that river, having emptied himself, ready to face his fate, the destiny that God had for him. He is seemingly ready to believe that God can do the impossible, that he can soften the heart of his brother, Esau, and give him a future, back home where he belonged.
It is only when we empty ourselves, when we win by losing, that we receive what God has for us. Do you have a stick or a mustard seed? Have you been wrestling with God? Have you emptied yourself? There is a future ahead for you. God has a destiny and a promise for you to live out if you’ll trust him. Empty yourself and walk with him by faith. Let him lead you across the Jabbok river, with a new life and anew name.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20 NLT)
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