The Poor Man's Morning and Evening Portions
Robert Hawker (1753-1827)
"And there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day."—Gen. xxxii. 24.
My soul, here is a lovely portion for the morning. For the morning, did I say? Yea, both for night and morning, and, indeed, until the everlasting morning break in upon thee, and all the shadows of the night flee away. For are not all the seed of Jacob like their father, wrestlers in the actings of faith, and the fervour of prayer, until they come off, like him, prevailing Israels? And who was this man which wrestled with the patriarch? Let scripture explain scripture, and give the answer. By his strength, said the prophet Hosea, chap. xii. 3, &c. "he 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; even the Lord God of Hosts, the Lord is his memorial." Here then light is thrown upon the subject. He that is called a man in one scripture, is called an angel in this other. And that we might not overlook nor forget the identity of his person as the very man whose name was then secret, Judges xiii. 18. but hereafter to be made known, and himself appear openly, the prophet was commissioned to tell the church, that he that spoke with us, in the person of Jacob, our father, was the same that found Jacob in Bethel, even the Lord God of Hosts; for that was his memorial. Gen. xxviii. 10-19. And was it then He, whose name is Wonderful, which wrestled with Jacob? And when the poor patriarch was hard put to it, full of fears, doubts, and distresses, on account of his brother Esau, and was stirring up himself to take hold of God's strength, by way of strengthening himself against Esau, did he that came to strengthen him, first take hold of him, and seem to contend with him, until the breaking of the day? Oh then, my soul, here learn a sweet and precious lesson against the hour of the many contentions with the Esaus of thy warfare; for thou wrestlest not only against flesh and blood, but "against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." See, my soul, where thy strength is—even in Jesus. See what a blessed example of prevailing in prayer the Holy Ghost hath here set before thee. Look to this God-man with whom Jacob wrestled, and come off successful; and say with Job, "Will he plead against me with his great strength? no; but be will put strength in me." Job xxiii. 2-7. Fill thy mouth with arguments, as Job did. Tell Jesus of thy wants, tell him of his riches, tell him of thy guilt, tell him of his precious blood and righteousness, and tell him that thy misery, and weakness, and unworthiness, renders thee a suitable sinner for so gracious a Saviour to get glory by in saving. Go to him, my soul, with these strong, these unanswerable pleas. Jesus will love to hear, and to receive them. And while he wrestles with thee, do thou wrestle with him, all the night, in which thou art contending with thy sins within, and temptations without; with the errors of the infidel, and the crying sins of the profane. And do as Jacob did, wrestle, plead, supplicate, cry, and take hold of his strength, his blood, his righteousness, and God the Father's covenant promises in him; and never give over, nor let him go, until the day break, and he blesseth thee.
"An altar of earth."—Exod. xx. 24.
Every thing, and every service, in the old testament dispensation, as well as in the gospel church, points to Christ. Behold, my soul, in the Lord's appointment of "an altar of earth," how jealous the Lord is of his honour. If the altar dedicated to the Lord's service, be of earth, or if it be of stone, there was not to be the least mixture. Nothing hewn, nothing polished by man's art, or man's device; "for if," saith Jehovah, "thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it." Behold, how fully Jesus was preached here! There can be nothing offered to the Lord for his acceptance, but what is the Lord's. Jesus is the Father's gift to poor sinners; and when a poor sinner presents before the Father, the Lord Jesus as his whole altar, sacrifice, and offering, he presents to the Father what the Father first presented to him. If the sinner were to join any thing of his own with this offering, this were to pollute it. Sweet thought! my soul, cherish it in the warmest of thine affections; carry it about with thee for thy daily exercise of faith upon the person of Jesus, that nothing of thine may mingle with the pure and perfect salvation, which is alone in him. And, depend upon it, thy God and Father is more honoured, more glorified, and will be more beloved, by such a perfect reliance upon Him in whom his soul delighteth, than he would be by the greatest and most costly sacrifices of thine own providing. The infinite and eternal worth and efficacy of Jesus's blood and righteousness, is upon everlasting record. God is well pleased with him, and his people in him; and a voice from heaven hath proclaimed it to the earth. To offer any thing of our own, by way of making it pleadable, is to pollute it; yea, it is to make it questionable, as if we thought it not complete. And by thus doing, we declare that our hearts are not thoroughly pleased with what Jehovah hath declared himself well pleased, but are seeking to rest our souls, not upon the altar, which is wholly the Lord's, but adding to it of our own. Oh! for grace to make Jesus what the Father hath made him, the all in all of man's salvation; and be ever ready to let him have all the glory, who alone hath accomplished it, "in believing the record that God hath given of his dear Son."