“He established a testimony in Jacob.” Psalm 78:5
It was a typical night. I crawled into my bed and settled down to read a bit. After a short prayer, I found myself in Psalm 78. I’m not sure what it was about verse 5, but it gripped my attention.
Again and again, I read the line, “He established a testimony in Jacob.” I began considering how his testimony was “established.”
I recalled the story of Jacob’s life found in Genesis 25-32. I considered all of his mess-ups and mishaps. How he conned his brother and father and ended up with a birthright and blessing that he did not merit. How he worked long and hard for years before he could be wed to his beloved, Rachel–a wife with whom children would not come easily. And how his brother had every reason to hate him and wish him dead.
Struggles seemed to litter his life until one special night at Bethel. It was then that Jacob found himself wrestling with a man he described as God. In fact, they wrestled all night, but before they parted at dawn, Jacob begged Him for a blessing. 
He had always struck me as such a “scrapper.” Clearly Jacob had a talent for finding a way to come out on top of almost any given situation. In my opinion, God had every reason to smite him for his audacity to ask for a blessing the night they wrestled. But God chose to bless Jacob instead. Not because he deserved it or had asked for it, but because God, of his own good will, chose to. This was the beginning of Jacob’s understanding of grace and a crucial component of the testimony given to him by God.
That special night, Jacob became aware of his need for God’s grace. He could no longer manage his life without it. No doubt, fears had mounted for him as he traveled home and prepared to meet Esau for the first time in years after his previous betrayal. How would his brother receive him? Would Esau want revenge? Jacob knew he had no way to protect all of his family should things go poorly with Esau. The ability to manufacture an advantage in this situation was scarce. And so he desperately begged God for a blessing.
And from that moment, his life radically changed. God began working good from the mess that had been his life before. This included a surprising and tender moment of reconciliation with his brother Esau later that day. But the most significant evidence of grace given to him followed through his 12 sons. God chose to establish each of his sons as the original fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel.
And from these tribes came a descendant who forever changed the world. This descendant was the incarnate deity, Jesus Christ, the long-awaited Messiah of Israel. Jesus, then and now, came with the ultimate extension of God’s grace. By offering his life in the place of sinful man, he offers salvation from sin and peace with God for all who will receive it. No clever maneuvering required. Only faith in Jesus.
Jacob’s story is such a comfort. How God is willing to take the mess of a person’s life and bring unfathomable blessings from it is remarkable. Romans 8:28 says, “God works all things together for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Through Christ, the wreckage of our lives can be redeemed. This is such good news!
Maybe you’re like me and see more of yourself in Jacob than you would ever want to openly admit. Perhaps you’ve worked hard to chart your own way in life but have come away disappointed. Or maybe you’ve prided yourself that you can make things happen when you work hard for them, only to realize later that there is a shelf-life to all your grit.
Jacob’s testimony urges us to realize that sooner or later, we will all come to the end of ourselves. At some point in our lives, we will find that what we want or need is well beyond our reach. And when all our hopes are dashed, Jesus shows us that all our hopes can be found in Him. If we trust in Christ, we can become witnesses to His extraordinary ability to weave our failures into a grace-driven purpose. And like Jacob, our own testimony will be established.
 Genesis 32:22-32
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