The Peniel problem solved


Jacob calls the place where he wrestled a man, Peniel, because he says that I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved (spared). Who is this man and why is Jacob referring to him as God?

The man who wrestled with Jacob refers to himself as God (Genesis 32:28) and Jacob affirms that he has seen God face to face (Genesis 32:30). The prophet Hosea refers to this mysterious man as an angel and reveals to us that he is the Lord of heaven’s armies and the Lord is his name (Hosea 2:4-5). The man who wrestled with Jacob was the Angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ (Theophany to Jacob) who had also appeared as the angel of the Lord to Hagar (Genesis 16:7-13).

So though Jacob is correct in his expression that he has seen God face to face and his life was spared to give us this account,  this may seem to contradict other portions of the scripture for the Bible teaches us that one cannot see God’s face, for anyone who does will not live (Exodus 33:20). Additionally the book of John asserts that no one has ever seen God except the Lord Jesus (John 1:18). This is the Peniel problem and how is this solved?

The answer is the book of Exodus where it is recorded that the LORD spoke with Moses, face to face, as a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11). The latter part of this verse “as a man speaks with his friend” is crucial. God appeared to Jacob as a man, for Jacob wrestled a man (Genesis 32:24). Therefore, Jacob and Moses’ seeing of God face to face is to state that they saw him as a man sees another – in close relationship – as a friend would commune with another.

Points to ponder:
For fallen man to see the one and only Holy God in his fullness and glory, would consume man, for God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29), but man has seen God veiled in the flesh – in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 14). The fullness of God is in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9), and Jesus affirms that he and the Father (God) are one (John 10:30) and whoever has seen him have seen God the father (John 14:9). The full glory of God is in the face of the man Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

The Bible teaches us that “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). It also asserts that there is no one righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10), and the eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him (2 Chronicles 16:9). A fully committed heart is a heart that loves God over everyone and everything else and one that loves others. The heart has to be purified of all of the evil things that come from it, which defile a man (Matthew 15:19-20). Only by believing in Jesus Christ, can the heart be purified for believing in Jesus Christ imputes the righteousness of God in us (Romans 4:19-25). As David prayed, let us also pray “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right Spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10).

In Jesus Christ alone, is the Peniel problem solved.

Points to ponder:

Jesus is the face of God. He who has seen me has seen God.

Genesis 32:30-32 (KJV)
30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.
32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.

Blessed “Be” attitudes :: Be Pure (in heart)


Matthew 5:3-12 lists eight Beatitudes that were spoken of by Jesus. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

To be blessed, one must have an attitude of being pure (in heart).

The Creator God is not interested in an outward showing of piety or penance as many doctrines of men and world religions prescribe, but God is interested in inward purity i.e., purity of the heart. When the scribes and Pharisees in an accusatory manner questioned Jesus that his disciples did not wash their hands before breaking bread, Jesus astutely yet sternly cautioned them of their double standard and hypocrisy, and expressed a fundamental truth, that it is not what one consumes that defiles a man, but what comes from within (from the heart) (Matthew 15:11). Later when his disciples approached him and asked him if he was offended by the Pharisees and sought clarification of his response, he asked them “Are you also yet without understanding?” before explaining that out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; things which defile a man (Matthew 15:19-20).

So if by nature our heart is prone to defile, then how is it that one can be pure in heart? To be pure means to be untainted, unstained, unblameable, unreproveable, without spot or wrinkle. In other words, to be pure is to be set apart and it is to be holy. This is an impossible edict for man to accomplish by his/her own efforts. No matter how impressive and thorough a self-help program prescribes, no one can be holy by his or her own accord, for in sin are we conceived (Psalm 51:5). There is one only Way to be holy. Jesus said He is THE WAY (John 14:6). The Bible teaches us that Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, can present us unblameable and unreproveable in the sight of God (Colossians 1:22), because he who knew no sin, became sin for us, and died in our stead, so we can be imputed the righteousness (purity/holiness) of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). In other words, only Jesus can make us holy i.e., only Jesus can make our hearts pure and clean; without spot or wrinkle. King David’s recognized that out of his heart came thoughts of – evil and murder toward Bathsheba’s husband Uriah, – adultery and fornication (extramarital sex) with Bathsheba, – stealing Uriah’s wife, – false witness and lying (covering the murderous plot of Uriah’s death) and – blasphemies (for what David had done displeased the Lord) (2 Samuel 11). Upon this recognition, king David repented and sought that God would create in him a clean (pure) heart; one that is holy and blameless, in God’s sight. When we repent of our sins, believing in Jesus Christ, he makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), replacing our old heart that defiles with one that is pure and clean (Ezekiel 36:26). Those who are pure in heart are those who have recognized that Jesus is the Only Way to Holiness and have repented asking Him to create in them a clean/pure heart. These are blessed for they shall see God.

What does it mean that one shall see God? God is Spirit (John 4:24),  God is invisible (1 Timothy 1:17), God dwells in an unapproachable light, which no man can see, nor has seen (1 Timothy 6:16).  Then how can God be seen? There is a multi-faceted answer to this which we find in the Bible. First, Jesus is the image of the invisible God, in whom the fullness of God dwells (Colossians 1:15,19). Second, Jesus said, He is THE LIGHT of the world (John 8:12). Third, when we walk in the light, desiring to be pure (in heart), repenting of our sins, believing in Jesus and asking Him to create in us a clean heart, we have fellowship with God as He is light and is in the light now approachable through Jesus, for Jesus said, all who see me (have fellowship with me) have seen God (the Father) (John 14:8-11). Fourth, all who have believed in Jesus, have been delivered from the power of darkness and been translated to the kingdom of Jesus Christ, God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13), and they shall see God face to face, when He establishes His kingdom on new earth (Revelation 22:4). We see God now through Jesus Christ, we will later see God in Christ, face to face.

Point(s) to ponder:
1. God is pleading, “Come now, let us reason together, though your sins are like scarlet, I will wash you whiter than snow.” (Isaiah 1:18). The vilest offender (of whom I am chief) is not out of the reasoning and reach of God. Reason with Him. Reach out to God.
2. Have you/I heard God’s plea and have we repented of our sins, asking Him to create in us a clean/pure heart? For without holiness, no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:29) and Only Jesus Christ can make you/I holy, unblameable and unreproveable.
3. God opened the heart (understanding) of Lydia so she could believe in Jesus and be baptized into His kingdom of light (Acts 16:14). Ask God to open your heart (of understanding) so that it can be made pure!

Matthew 5:8 (KJV)
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Hebrews 12:14 (KJV)
14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Colossians 1:12-23 (KJV)
12
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son [Jesus Christ]:
14
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
20
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
21
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
22
In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
23
If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

No what matter – I will refuse


Many decisions that ought to be taken are not taken due to one of the following reasons:
1. we try to rationalize the situation assuming that our finite and limited human minds has infinite comprehension and abilities or
2. we think of the consequences of the decision and are paralyzed for fear of life or fear of being ridiculed.

In today’s text, taken from the book of Exodus, we will look at Moses, who chose to refuse the pleasures and treasures NO MATTER WHAT.

As a backdrop to this character, Moses who was raised the prince of Egypt, by Pharaoh’s own daughter, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He instead chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. The consequences of Moses’ action meant that he would now have to give up what many others would aspire to have, he would have to go up against Pharaoh himself to seek deliverance for the people of God, and more importantly, his own life would now be in jeopardy. Moses  nonetheless refused the pleasures and treasures NO MATTER WHAT the consequences would be.

If Moses had rationalized or thought of the consequences, he would have possibly ended up as a successor of Pharaoh in Egypt, merely gaining ephemeral passing pleasures and temporary treasures. His life history may or may not be recorded in history books and with his death, he would be soon forgotten. His act of refusal to accept the things the world offered, and to stand for the people of God, not only solidified his friendship with God (Exodus 33:11) but also earned him an entry into the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11:24),  and gave him the privilege of being one who is recorded to have seen the invisible God. (Deuteronomy 34:10, Hebrews 11:27). Our refusal of the pleasures and treasures this world has to offer, makes our heart focus on the people and things of God and with the purification work of the Holy Spirit of God in us, we can expect to see God. Jesus Christ will reveal himself unto them whose hearts are pure, who refuse to be corrupted by the pleasures and treasures of this world. Only those who are pure in heart can see God (Matthew 5:8).

Points to ponder:

  1. What is God asking of you and me today to refuse?
  2. Can we take the step to refuse the pleasures and treasures this world has to offer, without rationalizing or thinking of the consequences, NO MATTER WHAT?