Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
He cheated his brother out of his inheritance. He deceived his father into giving him the inheritance which, by right of birth, should have gone to his brother Esau. He lied to his father-in-law about the size of his flocks, yet he is venerated as the third of the patriarchs--remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? And the writers of Scripture in several places refer to God as "the God of Jacob." God, however, saw beyond the character defects which I've just mentioned. He saw his heart.
It was Jacob who in desperation wrestled with the angel and cried out, "I will not let you go unless you bless me" (Genesis 32:26). And God did bless him. He became the father of 12 sons who eventually became the fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel.
I never cease to be amazed how God chooses individuals whose lives have little to recommend them, touches them with His presence, and transforms them into able men and women whose lives leave their imprint on family, friends, and even society.
In her book, My Years with Corrie, Ellen de Kroon Stamps tells how she and her companion, Corrie ten Boom, visited a weaving school in Switzerland. Corrie asked one of the students, "What happens when you make a mistake? Do you have to take it out and start over?"
"Madam," replied the student, "when we make a mistake, we call our teacher. He is a masterful artist, and he shows us a way we can use our mistake to improve the beauty of the pattern."
Learning to call the teacher when we make mistakes is tough. Jacob had to go through some rough days before he learned that lesson. True, he got the birthright which Esau deserved, but he paid the price of 14 years of estrangement, living as a fugitive in a foreign land. As an old man, Jacob became the victim of deceit himself as his favorite son Joseph was sold into slavery.
There is Good News though, friend! The grace of God is within the grasp of every person who realizes he is a deceiver, a fraud, and a liar. It is often our human failure which makes us reach towards Him who not only forgives but touches our lives with His presence and changes us into His image.
Take time to read Psalm 46, which begins, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." That great Psalm ends with the words, "The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." Did you notice that phrase, "The God of Jacob is our fortress"? True--God is a fortress, but He is the refuge for all, even the Jacobs who are rascals and cheats. Often it is the good which keeps people from heaven while the person who has really messed up his life realizes he or she needs forgiveness and help.
When Jacob had an encounter with the Almighty, God changed his name from Jacob to Israel (Genesis 35:10). No longer was he a deceiver and a cheat, but a man of God, changed by the Spirit of God.
The Good News of the Gospel is that God is still in the business of changing the lives of men and women. This means He can become your God as well. "Therefore," says Paul, writing to the Corinthians, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).
Yes, the God of Jacob is still our refuge!
Resource reading: Psalm 46:1-11