God uses most for His glory those people and things which are most perfectly broken ….
The doctrine of living a broken life before the Lord is a vital dimension of being a follower of Jesus. Here are some interesting tidbits for you to consider:
It was not until Jacob’s hip was broken that God gave Jacob the name Israel …
It was not until Gideon’s three hundred broke their jars of clay that the enemy ran in fear ….
It was not until Esther broke the laws of the kings court that she obtained favor ….
It was not until Jesus broke the loaves and fishes that the five thousand were fed …
It was not until Mary broke her alabaster jar of expensive perfume that oil filled the room and Jesus received honor ….
It was not until Jesus’ body was broken with thorns, nails, and a spear, that our eternal redemption was paid for ….
“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”
Brokeness is an attitude of the heart that is completely submitted before the Lord. No stubbornness, resistance, or self-will is within the heart of a person that is completely broken before the Lord. Jesus said unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and die, it would not bear fruit. May our old ways and self die and may we live for Him!
We are to live broken lives before God. This is the opposite to most preaching today. We should volunteer and surrender ourselves to be broken and embrace it as an act of love from a holy and righteous God. If He breaks us, it is for our own good. We may take comfort in knowing that He will not damage the vessel beyond its ability to be completely restored …..
If you and I want to stand well with the Lord, if we really do want to find favor with God, if we want to come onto the life side of the Cross, and come right into the Presence of the Lord, and offer our worship to the Lord, we must first of all be very conscious of our own brokenness.
God only really uses broken men and women, those who have come to recognize that in themselves they are very poor creatures. There is about them a spirit of real brokenness. “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my Word.”
To pour ourselves out, to be utterly broken is a beautiful offering to God and in which He is well pleased. And when God is satisfied, then we can come into the blessing. The proud one, the self-sufficient one, the one who stands up in their own strength, they are not the ones who inherits the blessing. They are not the one whom the Lord will use. They are not the ones who can really serve the Lord. But the one who dare not lift up their eyes to heaven, but with bowed head says, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:11-13). This one goes to their house justified. This one has the recognition and blessing of the Lord …
Broken before blessed is a Scriptural principle and God uses different breaking down methods in each of our lives. God’s methods are not just physical; they vary, depending on the particular hang-ups and blind spots of each growing Christian. The sudden loss of a scholarship or the unexpected challenge of undesirable responsibilities may be part of the breaking process ….
We need be broken to be whole, which is very dramatically taught in (Genesis 32:24-31) from an event in the life of Jacob. Perhaps a little background for this portion of God’s Word may be helpful. Jacob was the son of Isaac and the grandson of the great patriarch Abraham. As Jacob grew up he believed in the God of his fathers, but he was certainly not what we would call “totally committed”. In fact, the picture we get of Jacob from Scripture is that of a young man who was selfish and all out for “number one”. Even when he was a teenager he cheated his brother Esau out of the birthright; certain family rights and privileges which Esau would inherit
Then some years later he tricked his aging father in order to get the paternal blessing which also rightfully belonged to the first-born twin, Esau (Genesis 27). At this point Esau was so furious that he determined to kill Jacob as soon as their father Isaac died. Since Jacob had no chance against Esau in a fight (25:27), he left home. Cheating, cunning, coniving Jacob was on the run! But God was not done with this run-away ….
Jacob had a lot of lessons to learn, but he would eventually become the man of faith God had intended him to be (Hebrews11:21). God never gives up on any of his children. You can be sure that in spite of our selfish and “me-first” ways, the Lord is at work behind the scenes. He is steadily chopping away at our proud and savage hearts to break us down and open us up for blessing (Philippians 1:6).
Jacob put several hundred miles between himself and Esau. He went to the land of his mother’s relatives and settled there for 20 years. There he married and began a large family. (His sons were later to become the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel.) During these 20 long years Jacob “reaped what he had sown”. God taught him and disciplined him in this distant country. It certainly was not by chance that Jacob had to learn to respect the rights of the first-born by being forced to marry Leah (Genesis 29). It wasn’t by chance that Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, happened to be as cunning and selfish as Jacob himself! Time and time again they locked horns and tried to selfishly outwit each other (Genesis 28-31).
But God used all these circumstances to break Jacob down and prepare him for blessing. How often the Lord will bring us into contact with people and circumstances that rub us the wrong way! This is one of the methods God uses to knock the rough edges off us. You don’t smooth a rough plank by rubbing it with cotton — you must use an abrasive!
In (Genesis 32) we see Jacob finally going home. On the way he received word that Esau was planning to meet him with 400 men. Jacob was scared and prayed for his life! He divided his party in two for safety and then sent most of them ahead with gifts to appease Esau. He even put his family in front of him as part of the buffer between himself and his brother. Maybe the still-crafty Jacob planned to run and save his own skin if he saw that Esau would not accept the gifts or show mercy to his family.
While Jacob waited alone that night, a man came into his campsite and began to wrestle with him. What was said or how the “fight” began we don’t know, but we do know that Jacob’s opponent was no ordinary man. (Hosea 12:4) indicates that the stranger was an angel of God. In fact, (Genesis 32:30) intimates that this heavenly visitor may have been the angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Son of God temporarily taking on the appearance of a man (Genesis 18). God wrestled with Jacob! Jacob had learned a lot of lessons already but, like all of us, he still had a long way to go. Until Jacob was thoroughly broken of his selfishness and scheming he could not go further in his relationship with God. And so God met Jacob alone, and wrestled with him one-on-one. What a picture lesson for us!
Is God wrestling with you right now because of some area of your life that needs to be broken down? What about submission to authority; like your folks? What about your priorities; like Scripture vs. sleep? What about God’s will for your life; like next week or next year?
The wrestling match was not over in a few minutes; it went on all night. God could easily overpower us, but He does not “zap” us or violate our wills. He patiently wrestles with us in order to break us down. Near dawn the Lord “put a move” on Jacob which evidently caused a slight dislocation of the ball-and-socket joint in Jacob’s thigh. It wasn’t an illegal hold or a karate chop–just the “touch of God” in a critical area. Has the Lord “touched” you in this way yet? The “touch of God” may be painful at first, but it is part of the breaking process that paradoxically leads to greater blessing in your life as a Christian …
Jacob now was no longer able to wrestle; he could only cling to God. At last he realized his helplessness and weakness and dependence. Now he wouldn’t even be able to run from Esau. His only hope was to hold on and ask for a blessing from the Lord. What a turnaround in the life of Jacob! Each one of us must come to that point. Sometimes it is the area of our greatest natural strength or ability that God must “touch” in order to cause us to depend on Him. The Lord says, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The next thing we read (v27) is that the Lord asked Jacob his name. Why? Before Jacob could be blessed he had to own up to the reality of what he really was: “the supplanter”. This is the meaning of the name Jacob, and how well it characterized his life of deceiving and scheming to get what he wanted from others. By giving his name, Jacob openly confessed his wrongdoing. Confession of our sin is part of the breaking process. Before God can fill our lives with his blessings we must own up to our past failures. This is humbling — but necessary ….
The stigma of the old name was removed and Jacob was given a new name, Israel. There is some question as to the exact meaning of the name Israel, but from the context of (v 28) as well as Hosea 12:3), it seems that the idea is “he who strives or perseveres with God”. Quite a change from “supplanter” to “one who perseveres with God”. Notice that (v 28) adds that Jacob prevailed with God. This, of course, does not mean that Jacob won the wrestling match, but that he realized his defeat and clung to the only Source of hope. The breaking process worked a miracle in the life of Jacob; it still does in the lives of believers today ….
Jacob tried to get the stranger to reveal Himself by giving His name, but was unsuccessful. Jacob still had a way to go before the Lord would intimately disclose Himself to Jacob as He had done with Jacob’s faithful grandfather, Abraham. But for now the breaking process brought blessing (v29) and the realization that God Himself had touched his life (v30).
The view we have of Jacob in (v 3) is a beautiful spiritual picture of the growing Christian who has undergone the breaking process and “prevailed”. The sun is shining on one who has wrestled all night. He is making forward progress, howbeit with a permanent limp. Here is a believer who was broken to be whole …. beautifully broken …
“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”