Restarting With a New Name: From Jacob to Israel

Jacob was on the run, and slept outdoors. He dreamed of a stairway to heaven, angels were going up and down on it. God spoke to him in the dream, “I’ll stay with you. I’ll protect you wherever you go. I’ll stick with you.”

Jacob woke up and said: “God is in this place—truly. And I didn’t even know it!” He was afraid, and said, “Incredible. Wonderful. Holy. This is God’s house. This is the gate of heaven.”   -Genesis 28:10-17 (paraphrase)

When Jacob fled his home to escape the grasp of his very angry brother, Esau, after deceitfully receiving their father, Isaac’s, blessing he had a powerful dream.  He saw a stairway to heaven and heard the voice of God promising to be with him.  When Jacob returned home with his wives and children, flocks and herds, he was afraid of Esau and hoped a generous gift of animals would appease his wrath.  The night before Jacob was to reunite with Esau, he camped out alone.  All through the night he wrestled with a man.  At daylight the man tried to leave, but Jacob would not release him until he received a blessing from him.  (Genesis 32)

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel (wrestles with God), because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Gen 32:28

Jacob, now named Israel, experienced a restart of his relationship with his brother and his homeland.  He really wasn’t the same person anymore; his new name symbolized the transformation that had occurred in his heart and his life.  He was brave enough to face his brother, Esau, who embraced him in forgiveness.  It is never easy to engage in reconciliation.  It takes courage and humility to admit our faults and ask for forgiveness.  It also takes a great deal of compassion to love and forgive when someone has hurt us.

If you need support in facing a difficult conversation with someone, please contact one of our pastors, elders, or deacons.  We are here to love and care for one another.  If you are discontented with how things are going at church, please don’t keep your feelings to yourself.  We WANT to talk about our restart and how we can better meet the spiritual needs of our church and our community.  You will find a short survey in our newsletter to help us know how things are going.  Please take a moment to fill out the survey or give us a call.

This week consider the question: With whom do I need to reconcile?

God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God of our fathers and mothers, who sees the struggles of your people, and comes to save. Give us eyes to see you and hearts willing to go where you send us.  Forgive us our greed, selfishness and fear.  Grant us courage to share your love, so that all your people may know your salvation.  Amen.

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