THE GOD OF JACOB IS OUR REFUGE
(c) Copyright 2000 Rev. Bill Versteeg
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah.
According to alamoth. A song. God is our refuge and strength, an
ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give
way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters
roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city
of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her,
she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his
voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is
our fortress. Selah
Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations
he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the
earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be
exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
- This Psalm portrays an absolute
confidence in god even though the world becomes Chaos
- - Kingdoms Fall
- - even though the earth itself quakes and changes
- - wars come and bring death to every door step
- - life starts coming apart at the seams
"The LORD of hosts is with us, God of Jacob is our
- It's a well known Psalm, we have heard the words
often. "A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing." It's so
familiar that we tend to loose sight of its basic claim - That the God
of Jacob is our refuge..
That sounds like something that the nation of Israel would say, Jacob
was their father, they were his progeny. However, if we really
reflected for a minute on the life of Jacob, we would find, on the
surface at least, that there was not much reason in his life to put our
confidence in God. In fact, if we look at the life of Jacob - putting
confidence in his God almost seems a contradiction in terms
You see Jacob started out OK. You would find, from reading Genesis 25 -
50 that he was the youngest of two brothers - strong youthful,
intelligent, full of energy, smart, inventive in his ways of dealing
And on top of that, he had the promised blessing of his God that he
would inherit the promised blessing - he was the chosen one of God.
knew from the Lord that Esau, the older would serve Jacob the younger.
- Jacobs very life began with the promise of God's infinite riches that
were due to come to him from the Lord through Abraham and Isaac.
There was a bit of a problem however, Esau was older, that meant he
would normally inherit the promises and the blessings. But Jacob was
ingenious - no problem like that would ever set him back and so he set
out to make sure that the promises of the Lord would come to him.
Jacob, with his characteristic inventiveness coerced his brother into
selling his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew.
then some time later, Jacob's resourceful character came through again
when he tricked his father into giving him the blessing of the eldest
son. He put goat skin on his arm, wore Esau's clothing and made his
Father a meal just like his brother - he disguised himself as Esau and
the disguise worked, he stole the blessing away from his brother.
Things were going great - all of Jacob's efforts to make sure that he
got all that God promised to give him were going fine.
He would do everything within his own power to get what God promised he
would give him.
Except, in doing so, he ran into a real problem. His brother Esau
became his enemy - and as the death of Isaac approached, so did Esau's
plot to finish off Jacob once and for all.
Jacob fled away from Esau to Paddan Aram to his Uncle Laban. Oh, he had
a few problems, but he could still handle them - he was on his way to
adventure - even though he did feel probably a little alone, without a
friend in the world. But then his God came through as a friend and gave
him a promise
am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the
land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; and
you descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall
spread abroad to the west and to the east north and south, and by you
and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless
themselves. Behold, I am with you and will keep you where you go, and
will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have
done that of which I have spoken to you."
to that point, everything seemed to go OK - the LORD was obviously on
his side, he had many reasons for great confidence in God - and now
this God had promised to be with him always - no matter what happened!
And then all his problems started...
He got to his uncle Laban's house - and there he met Rachael and Leah -
and how he fell in love with Rachael. So he made an agreement with his
uncle Laban, that he should work for 7 years and then he would be able
to marry Rachael.
For an energetic young men like Jacob 7 years of hard labor was OK, if
in the end he got what his heart really desired, but Jacob got shafted
- he got Leah instead - and Laban worked it out that he would have to
work another seven years to get Rachael, the wife he loved.
picture we get of Jacob through all these chapters is that he is a man
full of energy and ingenuity - he was willing to work fourteen years to
get the women he loved. Even though his boss, Laban changed his wages
unpredictably at least ten times, Jacob still managed to manipulate the
cattle in such a way as to increase his own herd.
Through careful planning and strategy, and a lot of hard slave labor -
Jacob worked himself into an inheritance - or so he thought.
But his uncle found out and for fear of his life and his family, Jacob
decided that he would have to flee.
where could he flee? He couldn't go home. Esau was there. Jacob
between a rock and a hard place. He was going to have to face his
brothers anger, the brother that had consoled himself with the thoughts
of killing Jacob.
Jacob is still resourceful in himself - he chose to send gifts of many
cattle ahead of him - and he instructed each one of his servants who
delivered the gifts to be deeply humble - in the hopes of winning
it seemed to work, at least to Jacob, for when he finally met Esau,
Esau greeted him in love.
you looked at Jacob up to this point in his life everything is going
quite well even though he had a few frustrations, they were not too
much to handle for a resourceful young man. Even though he had some
character faults, his God was still blessing him with prosperity.
then, on the way to meeting Esau, something happened to Jacob. He
stayed the night in the place which would later be called Peniel.
There, he spent the night wrestling with a man who was in fact God. It
was the wrestling of an ambitious, energetic, sometimes deceitful young
man against a God who was all powerful. And in that midmorning contest,
God decided to end the fight by touching Jacob's hip. This was not the
touch that healed - as we usually expect the touch of God to be - this
was a touch of God which destroyed and crippled.
that one wrestling match in the early morning hours, Jacob was
handicapped for the rest of his life. From that point on - things he
used to be able to control through his strength and ingenuity, became
things over which he had no control. Now he would have to face Esau and
his 400 warriors but he had no strength from which to do it. Something
in Jacob had started to break.
Jacob had to let go and for the first time, in a small way, he let his
God be the God of Jacob. When he met Esau, Esau accepted him in love,
something which all his ingenuity and plotting could not accomplish.
Nothing but a divine force could work that change in Esau.
After his visit with Esau, Jacob settled in Schechem, but there his
problems were just beginning. Because of his daughter Dinah, two of his
own sons killed all the men in the town of Schechem. Because of their
actions, Jacob would have to flee from that area on a painful hip.
With him, he took his 11 sons, his daughter, his two wives Rachael and
Leah, and their maidservants.
Of all that he had, he
loved his wife Rachael the most. And because of his love for her, he
loved her son Joseph more that all his other children.
became pregnant again, but this time things did not go well. Out of his
control, Rachael passed away on the road to Bethlehem as she gave birth
to Jacob's 12th son Benjamin.
Jacob, the strong man, started noticing that the control he had over
his life was slipping now through his fingers.
Jacob lost Rachael, the wife he loved, and then he lost his father
And in the next years, everything that he had attained for himself he
First, Joseph is sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers and they
cover up their deed by convincing their father that he was eaten by a
wild Animal. Jacob's favorite son was gone. His grief was so heavy that
he felt he would mourn for him till the day he died.
a famine came to the land and because of the famine, he stared losing
his grip on his possessions. First the barns went empty, then his
cattle started to go hungry, eventually, even his family was starting
to feel the pangs of hunger.
But there was food in Egypt, so he sent all his sons to go and buy
some, except the only son that he loved deeply because he was Rachael's
son, Benjamin. He would have to stay home with his Father. But to get
more food from Egypt, an Egyptian authority insisted that the youngest
son come also. So when the hunger pangs of the family became to severe,
went with his brothers to Egypt.
At that point, the intuitive, sometimes deceitful Jacob had nothing
left for he knew that letting Benjamin go might mean Benjamin's death.
First Jacob lost Rachael, then Joseph, now even Benjamin. It was as if
everything and everyone he loved and had worked for all his life was
being taken out of his hands.
himself cried out in Genesis 42:36 "Everything is against me!"
If he would loose his last beloved son, he would loose his very own
life and everything that he had ever strived for.
The man Jacob, when he looked at his own life analyzed it by saying
that his days was few and evil (Genesis 47:9), even though in many ways
he had been blessed, in the end his days were filled with pain, misery,
death, lose of loved ones , lose of his possessions.
If there was a life that came apart at the seams, it was Jacobs!
there was a life where the earth seemed to quake against a man, where
every kingdom seemed against him, where every part of life seemed to
oppose a child of God who had the promises of God's love, it was Jacob.
first sight - not much of a God to take refuge in.
But in all those years of pain, sorrow and loss, something happened to
Jacob. Something in him died. That old character that insisted on doing
things his own way came kicking and screaming, to an end. That old
nature that insisted on holding onto the promises of God, and
accomplishing them himself died a slow painful death. When he finally
let go of Benjamin, he let go of his last hope in himself.
He let go, and let God do what he promised.
became still, he could do no other. He had come to the point of
realizing who God really is, that God is the one who will keep his
promises, that they are all his doing, and there is nothing that we can
do to inherit his kingdom.
When he came to the position of stillness, stillness and simply
accepting that promises of God for what they are, that was when he got
word back that the official in Egypt was in fact his son Joseph, that
his beloved son Joseph was alive and had been chosen by God to save the
lives of his family and many other people.
When Jacob finally became still before God, and waited in quiet faith,
the Lord brought to fulfillment his promises.
And so toward the end of his life, we hear Jacob make the same
confession that the Psalmist made years later. He said "the
Lord is my shepherd" (Genesis 48:15), even though his life
had been hard. The Lord led him through these valleys so that he might
learn what it means to have God as his refuge.
One of the last pictures we see in scripture concerning Jacob is in
Hebrews chapter 11, where read "by faith' Jacob, when dying, blessed
each of the sons of Joseph, while bowing in worship over his staff."
picture we see is not a man determining his own future, it is a picture
of a Grandfather knowing that God will fulfill his promises, all he had
to be was be still.
People of God, when Jacob looked back at his life he saw pain - yes -
lots of pain. But he also saw something beautiful, because in all his
agony, he saw the Lord was fulfilling a promises his own way, and all
Jacob had to do was be still, be quiet, be at rest, trusting; for the
Lord would bring all of his promises to fulfillment.
That's why this Psalm boasts! Even though the earth change, though the
mountains shake into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and
foam, though the mountains tremble "The God of Jacob is our
refuge!" Even though the nations rage, kingdoms totter, the
God of Jacob is our refuge!
He is the God who gives to his children a kingdom which is unshakable,
because the God of all faithfulness is the one who keeps his promises,
they are "Yes and Amen" in Christ. His Kingdom will come!
still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I
will be exalted in the earth."
LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Jacob as he looked back at his painful life leaned on his staff and
worshiped the Lord in stillness.
year for you may have been a year of blessing, it may have been a year
of sorrow. You may understand why certain things have happened, you may
be confused. You may be asking "Why God, why did this have to happen to
me?" So was Jacob. In the end though, he saw God, and he gave glory to
God because in it all, God's hand was at work to show him that it is
all God, and there is nothing in this entire universe which is able to
separate us from his love.
Romans 8 (NIV):35 Who shall separate us from the love
of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or
nakedness or danger or sword?
36 As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep
to be slaughtered."
37 No, in all these
things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am convinced
that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the
present nor the future, nor any powers,
39 neither height nor
depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.
Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by
permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
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