Israel's Inalienable Possesions - The Gifts and the Calling of God Which are Without Repentance/Chapter 03
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The Significance of the Name Israel
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NAME ISRAEL
"Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel"
' I "HE chief reasons of the Apostle's interest in and love for Israel are given to us in verses 4 and 5. These two verses practically summarise " the gifts and the calling of God" oi which he speaks in the 29th verse of the nth chapter, and which are " without repentance," that is, without a change of mind on God's part the gifts or privi- leges and the high calling, namely, 26
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which God irrevocably bestowed on the chosen people, and which are Israel's inalienable posses- sions. And these reasons, my dear friends, still remain, and they are the permanent grounds why we now should be interested in and love Israel. As we ex- amine Israel's divinely bestowed gifts and calling, as summarised in these verses, I beg you to note that we have here a gra- dation in these privileges, cul- minating in the last, which is the highest and greatest.
The first is expressed in the words, " who are Israelites" This is the name of honour given by God to Jacob. It is, I may say, the ideal and prophetic name of Israel in the future, into the
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full meaning of which they will only enter after they shall have passed through the same expe- rience which Jacob had made on that night when his name was changed from Jacob to Israel.
Let me remind you of that mysterious transaction recorded in Gen. xxxii. 22-32. In " that night," in anticipation of his meeting with his brother Esau, when his heart was full of anxiety and fear, Jacob, after taking his family and all he had over the brook Jabbok, " was left alone, and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when He (this mys- terious man) saw that He pre- vailed not against him, He touched the hollow of his thigh ;
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and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, Let Me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me. And He said unto him, What is thy name ? And he said, Jacob. And He said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Is- rael ; for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked and said, Tell me, I pray Thee, Thy name. And He said, Wherefore dost thou ask after My name ? And He blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel ; for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. And
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as he passed over Peniel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh."
This historical incident forms at the same time one of the most beautiful parables of God's present and future dealings with Israel ; and Jacob may, in this mysterious and wonderful trans- action, be very well regarded as the type of his whole posterity. This, my dear friends, is the " night " period of Israel's his- tory ; and a long, dark, and dreary night it has proved full of sorrow and of weeping, which will not cease till joy is ushered in, in that looked-for morning, by the sudden rising upon them of the Sun of Righteousness.
And it is still the "Jacob"
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period of Israel's history. Not yet are they as a nation " Israelites " princes having power with God and with men, and prevailing. There have indeed always been individuals among them to whom the Lord Himself could bear witness and say : " Behold an Israelite indeed in whom there is no guile " ; but as a nation it is the " Jacob " name which still ap- plies to them. And there is a man wrestling with them un- known, His Name not yet re- vealed to them it is "the Man Christ Jesus " ; it is the Messiah, the Angel of the Cove- nant.
What are all God's dealings with them as a people ? What are these chastisements the
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various strokes which they re- ceive in this their night of sor- row ? Are they not all God's wrestlings with them, with a view to bringing this national Jacob to an end of himself. But we read that Jacob withstood, even as the nation withstands now, until, finally, before the breaking ojK the morning in the last dark hour of the dark night of which we read in the prophetic Scriptures in that final sorrow and " great tribulation " which is to come upon them, Jacob's thigh shall finally be out of joint ; and then all that they shall be able to do will be to cleave to Him, the Mighty One, and say, " We can- not we will not let Thee go, except Thou bless us." And
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then, having been overcome, they shall be overcomers.
In Hosea xii. 3, 4, we have light thrown on this mysterious transaction. There we read that Jacob " by his strength had power with God ; yea, he had power over the angel and prevailed ; he wept and made supplication unto Him. He found Him in Bethel, and there He spake with us ;" from which we see, not only the true character of the mysterious " Man " who wrestled with him that night, that He was none other than the Divine Angel of the Covenant, in and through whom all the theophanies of the Old Testament took place the Eternal Sen of God, Who in the fulness of time became flesh and
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dwelt among us, that men may behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ ; but we are also let into the secret as to how Jacob, after he was first of all prevailed over, had power with God and over the Angel, " and prevailed." " He wept and made supplication unto Him. " He wept over his past over the corruption of his nature and the crookedness of his life, which he confessed when he said, " My name is Jacob"; and he "made suppli- cation " for pardon and grace and for the power of a new life when he clung to the Angel, saying, " I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me."
This is how Jacob became " Israel " a prince having power
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with God; this is how he "pre- vailed " in the same way as the helpless little child prevails over the strong father whom he has offended or grieved ; not by resisting him, or making ex- cuses for his sin, but by throwing himself into his father's arms in penitent sorrow and love.
This is how we, too, may become spiritual Israelites. My friends, have we all passed through such an experience ? Have we confessed and wept over our past, and by faith laid hold on God's strength and made supplication unto Him, saying, " I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me"? Then we know what conversion means ; then only do we know the meaning of that
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word, "for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."
And that is how the whole Jewish people shall at last enter into the meaning of the name " Israel," which was divinely bestowed on them. Oh, what a day that will be when " the spirit of grace and of supplications " is poured upon Israel, and when the whole nation confesses and weeps over its past. What are many of the psalms and prophecies ? What is that wonderful 53rd chapter of Isaiah but inspired future penitential confessions of repentant Israel ? Yes ; " in that day shall there be a great mourn- ing in Jerusalem, . . . and the land shall mourn, ... all
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the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart."
And this sorrow and weeping will be accompanied by supplica- tions and by a clinging in faith to the promises of God " But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father : we are the clay and Thou our Potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, neither remember in- iquity for ever ; behold, see, we beseech Thee, we are all Thy people." " Turn us again, O Jehovah, God of Hosts, cause Thy face to shine, and we shall be saved" (Isa. Ixiv. 8, 9; Psa. Ixxx. 19).
Then it is that " worm Jacob " shall become " Israel," strong in
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the Lord and in the power of His might, having power with God and with men, and prevail- ing. Then also will Israel see " Peniel " again which means the " Face of God," which now is hid from them in consequence of their sins, but which they shall yet behold in greater glory and favour than before, when the Sun of Righteousness shall rise upon them in the glorious appearing of their Messiah-King.
It is interesting to observe that the Apostle himself was proud of the name "Israel" "Are they Israelites ? " he says, " so am I " " for I also am an Israelite of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin": and truly he knew from experience the full signifi-
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cance of the name, for, after the persecuting Saul, who had so long resisted Christ, had been conquered and turned into Paul, he became a true prince among men, having in a measure, even unsurpassed by prophets and apostles, "power with God and with men, and prevailing."