The prophets warned Judah. Israel served as an example. Yet Judah persisted in idolatry and ruinous foreign policy. The Day of YHWH came for them in 586 BCE. It was a destructive end. But it also proved to be a new beginning.
In the middle of many anxieties and trials, Jacob was called upon to wrestle all night. He would be then known as Israel, for he strove with man and God and prevailed. Ever since the people of God have been known as those who wrestle with God.
And [Jacob] rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two handmaids, and his eleven children, and passed over the ford of the Jabbok. And he took them, and sent them over the stream, and sent over that which he had.
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was strained, as he wrestled with him.
And he said, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.”
And he said, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”
And he said unto him, “What is thy name?”
And he said, “Jacob.”
And he said, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”
And Jacob asked him, and said, “Tell me, I pray thee, thy name.”
And he said, “Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?” And he blessed him there.
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for, said he, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
And the sun rose upon him as he passed over Penuel, and he limped upon his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel eat not the sinew of the hip which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip (Genesis 32:22-32).
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen (2 Peter 3:18).
Peter provided what he expected to be his final exhortation; he left a message ringing in the ears of all Christians: grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Growing in grace means dispensing with Neo-Stoic moralism and trusting in God and His strength; growing in knowledge goes well beyond grasping facts intellectually to something far more profound. We can choose grace in faith based in knowledge of Christ’s love or we can choose self-righteousness in moralism obsessed with rules; we cannot choose both!
It’s a term we hear all over the place anymore. People are trying to be “spiritual” but not “religious.” Even as people seem to question Christianity, “spirituality” remains popular. But what is “spiritual”? To what does it actually refer? Is it always good, healthy, or positive?
It’s a savage irony: the resurrection is the fundamental of the Christian faith according to the Apostles and early Christians, yet in the 21st century, it has become quite poorly understood and rarely discussed. Everything about Christianity depends on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Jesus’ continual Lordship in the resurrection body, and the hope of bodily resurrection for the believer.
God rejected Saul and sought a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). That man would be David. How was David a man after God’s own heart? How can we learn to be like him and be men and women after God’s own heart?
Work more; work harder; always be busy. Such seems to be the national mantra of America. But is life all about work? How can we live in a healthy way which glorifies God?
We’ve all seen and heard that Jesus saves. But what does that mean? Why is it necessary for us to be saved? How did Jesus accomplish salvation for us?
Mary and Martha: beloved friends of Jesus. Theologically astute disciples of Christ. Not exactly how they have been remembered; the loss has been ours.