Grace and Glory: Lessons in Jacob

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Jacob had offended the Lord, having taken the way of nature, listening to the counsels of unbelief, and thus departing from his path and his call as a saint of God. To learn the bitterness of his own way, he is put under discipline.
On the very night on which he left his father's house, his place of sleep witnessed the hand of the Lord, who still loved him. The place was, no doubt, the fruit and wages of his own transgression, but it told also that God was his God, for He was visiting him in fatherly chastening. It is, accordingly, such a place as God may own. It was not sin, but discipline, which marked it. Had it been the tent where he and his mother had dressed the kids for Isaac's feast, God could not have owned it, for deceit and fraud were practiced there. But the Lord could be at Luz (Gen. 28:1919And he called the name of that place Beth-el: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. (Genesis 28:19)), where Jacob is under chastening, and He does come and manifest His love there.
He comes to make glory a great reality to this poor, solitary, disciplined saint. He does not come to soften his pillow, or to change his condition, or to send him back to the home of his father and the care of his mother. He leaves the present fruit of Jacob's naughtiness just as bitter as He found it. But He does come to make glory and heaven a great reality to him.
Onward, therefore, Jacob goes, and, as the story tells us, he served twenty years under a certain hard taskmaster in Padan-aram. But the Lord blesses him there, and he conducts himself in the fear of the Lord there, and all is well.
In due time, he is on his way back to Canaan. But, indeed, it is a different Jacob, as well as a different journey. He was an empty Jacob at Bethel; he is now a full Jacob at Peniel. He has become two bands. Flocks and herds, servants, wives and children tell of his prosperity. He had been on that road twenty years before, unprovided for and alone, with a staff in his hand; but now we see him thus accompanied and surrounded. He has become a rich man. He has a stake in the world. He has something to lose, and may be a prey to others, as he surely must be an object with them.
He hears of Esau coming, and four hundred men with him. He trembles; he fears for his cattle, his people, and his life. He manages as well as he can, and religiously commits all to the Lord; but unbelief has mastered his heart, and he is in fear of Esau.
The Lord comes to him, therefore, this second time, now on his journey homeward, as He had been with him on his journey out. But it is in a new character. He was only under discipline then; he is in the power of unbelief now; and the Lord comes not to comfort, but to rebuke and restore him.
"There wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day." This was the Lord in controversy with Jacob. His unbelieving fears concerning Esau and his four hundred men had provoked the Lord to jealousy, and He withstands him.
But what is the issue of all this? Grace is made a great reality to Jacob here, as glory had been at Bethel. The wrestling Stranger, in abounding grace, allows Himself to be prevailed on by the weak and timid Jacob, and the Spirit works revival of faith in his soul. "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me," says he. He comes "boldly unto the throne of grace." Faith is decided, and a blessing must be imparted, and Jacob becomes Israel. Grace is now made a great reality to him, as before glory had been. It is now the unbelieving Jacob restored, as then it had been the chastised Jacob comforted. The gospel is pressed on his soul here; heaven had been opened to his eyes there. There he walked as at the gate of heaven, and in the house of God; here, he walks under the shinings of the presence of God.
Such was "Bethel" on his way out. Such is "Peniel" on his way home. Such is God to him, according to his need and condition. Heaven in its bright, enriching glory was shown to him in the day of his sorrow. Christ, in His precious restoring grace, is given to him in the day of his failure. And these things are what we need-to have both grace and glory realized in our souls-to walk by Bethel and by Peniel. They sweetly vary the journey, but it is the one, unchanging God that opens His house to us, and sheds the light of His face upon us.