Bread – Peniel

February 21, 2014


Readings for Friday, February 21, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 32:22-33:17; 1 Jn. 3:1-10; John 10:31-42; Psalms 102,107:1-32

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“Peniel” means “the face of God” (ESV Study Notes). In our reading today from Genesis, it is the place named by Jacob (Israel) after he had wrestled with God, because he said “For I have seen God face to face and yet my life has been delivered.” Gen. 32:30

Have you seen the face of God at your Peniel? I’ll bet you have.

I am always fascinated by what the Anglican Church in its Book of Common Prayer daily readings chooses to leave out. Today, the lesson includes Psalm 107:1-32, but what about verses 33 through 43. There are not that many of them. So why leave them out?

I don’t know exactly, but I can guess because they are somewhat confusing, particularly if you consider God “warm and fuzzy.” In rearranged order, so that the context can be properly set, they say:

“Whoever is wise, …; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.” Ps. 107:43

“He [God] turns the rivers into a desert…a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants.” Ps. 107:33-34

“…He raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks. The upright see it and are glad, …” Ps. 107:41-42

The “steadfast love of the Lord” evidences itself in judgment and in mercy. Those who rely on themselves will ultimately find themselves being judged. Those who rely upon Christ’s work on the cross will find themselves being bathed in mercy. This is not meanness in action, it is love in action.

The fact is that we wrestle with God all the time. When we ignore Him, we fight against the proofs of His existence which surround us everywhere. When we embrace Him, we fight with Him to let us into the kingdom of God on our terms. When we are saved by Him, we fight with Him about what we will do today, and tomorrow. When we are told by Him what to do, we wrestle with Him on interpretation.

The truth is that we wrestle with God all the time. Our Peniel is our inner soul, our home, our job, our club, our political party, our country.

We confront the face of God all of the time and, quite frankly, we rise to the occasion by arguing rather than listening, by doing rather than by being, by being angry instead of being joyful.

Consider the steadfast love of the Lord, that He does not strike us down when we see His face and when we dare to wrestle with Him, that He takes our sinful nature and by His grace alone brings us from death to life.

Consider why, at your Peniel, when you confronted God face to face, He let you live. Consider the steadfast love of God toward us.

And be thankful.

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© 2014 GBF

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