Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 20, 1952

Jacob's "Afterward"

R. C. Bell

"And therefore will Jehovah wait, that he may be gracious unto you . . . blessed are all they who wait for him." (Isa. 30:18) God puts his children through a course of training and chastening designed to fit them, with the passing of time, for more and ever more grace and good. In all good faith, Christians are to place themselves under his care and learn by experience that "No good thing will He withhold from them." Because Christ loved the family at Bethany, He waited two days after hearing that Lazarus was sick to start to him. This "love's delay" enabled him to be more gracious and helpful when He did arrive. Of course, the waiting was grievous to Mary and Martha, but afterward when they understood, they were glad that He waited. He will never disappoint those who wait for him. "All chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit." (Heb. 12:11)

Jacob's Impatience

The life of Jacob illustrates the difficulty of waiting for God. God promised the mother of Jacob and Esau before these twins were born that Jacob would be Esau's master. But Jacob lacking faith and patience to trust God to redeem his promise in his own time and manner, tried, first, by exploiting Esau's weakness, and later, by deceiving his old, blind father, to get this mastery before he was ready for it. However, his impatience failed to hasten matters. Rather, his clever tricks delayed God's plan for his life and made lengthy, grievous training necessary. When his knavery backfired, he fled the country to escape his brother's wrath, and to learn in exile to wait for God. "Jehovah is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of Jehovah." (Lam. 3:26, 26) As only God is powerful enough to save, only He is wise and good enough to hasten and improve his many men of so many personalities.

Jacob's Dream

As Jacob left home, he had a dream at Bethel in which he saw angels going up and down a ladder, which connected earth and heaven. Since mens' dreams are never entirely foreign to their waking thoughts, this dream reveals that Jacob believed in the supernatural world. He was no sooner asleep than he was off to the land of stars and angels, holding converse with God. And this spiritual potential was the very thing in him that enabled God to make of him "a vessel unto honor." Earthbound Esau, who "despised his birthright" because he could not eat it, and who had no reverence for holy things, could never have had Jacob's dream. Angels and God meant nothing to this "profane person" (Heb. 12:16). There was no germ of religion in him. In these twins is found the essential difference between God-accepted and God-rejected men of all time.

Jacob's Limping

On his way home after twenty years' exile, Jacob, planning to deal with Esau in carnal cunning as formerly, was so injured in wrestling with an angel that he ever afterward "limped on his thigh" (Gen. 32:12-32). As the time had come when Jacob would learn that God could use no fleshly craft in his work, God taught him this lesson by literally disabling his flesh. Jacob ceased to struggle with the angel in his own strength, and began to pray and to wait for God. God is still making, where He morally can, "limping saints."

After Jacob saw much further training in Canaan, God took him to Egypt to be with his long-lost, beloved Joseph for his post-graduate training. Near the very close of his long life, the stately blessing he said over Joseph's sons. "The God who hath fed me all my life long unto this day, the angel who hath redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads" (Gen. 48:16) reflects the deep satisfaction and calm sunset of his chastened life. Christ to Peter: "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt understand hereafter" (John 13:7). May we all learn more and more in our strange disappointments and sorrows to wait in patience and in hope of understanding hereafter, and to endure through to God's blessed "afterward."