“With the great truth we have been privileged to receive, we should, and under the Holy Spirit’s power we could, become living channels of light. We could then approach the mercy-seat; and seeing the bow of promise, kneel with contrite hearts, and seek the kingdom of heaven with a spiritual violence that would bring its own reward. We would take it by force, as did Jacob.” Review and Herald, February 14, 1899. Are you taking the kingdom of heaven by force? It is the taste of heaven here on this earth, for God is in the hearts of those who, with sufficient spiritual violence, take the kingdom by force. As Jacob was on his way back to his home land, he heard the news that Esau was coming to meet him with 400 armed men. He was virtually defenseless against such a force. He divided his family and flocks into two groups so that if one was destroyed, the other might survive. He then turned aside and went over the brook to wrestle alone in prayer with God. Ellen White tells us that we need to have this experience of wrestling with God.
Comparing the experience of Jacob to ours, we are told, “The season of distress and anguish before us will require a faith that can endure weariness, delay, and hunger—a faith that will not faint though severely tried. The period of probation is granted to all to prepare for that time.” The Great Controversy, 621. We are looking at a mature faith that we must have to endure this time. “Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. His victory is an evidence of the power of importunate prayer. All who will lay hold of God’s promises, as he did, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded.” Ibid.
As Jacob was wrestling in prayer, a hand was suddenly laid on his shoulder—a strong hand. In the darkness he did not know who it was. He feared it might be a robber, or perhaps a member of Esau’s band. He wrestled for hours as the night dragged on. Usually the human body is exhausted in a matter of a very short time when it is putting out its full energy, wrestling for life; but Jacob was a very powerful man. As the light began to dawn in the east, he was aware of the divine character of his assailant. He then clung to Christ and said, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me!” Genesis 32:26. This was not a presumptuous statement but one of supplication.
What is your prayer life like? Do you wrestle with God until you have the desired blessing? “Those who are unwilling to deny self, to agonize before God, to pray long and earnestly for His blessing, will not obtain it.” The Great Controversy, 621.
If we want the blessing of God and are willing to deny self, to agonize before God and to pray long and earnestly, then, as did Jacob, we can receive it. That blessing will sharpen our spiritual perception, allowing God to show us the things that we need to know; not only of the things taking place around us, but what is taking place inside us. We can go from faith to faith, from grace to grace, reaching new spiritual heights in Christ.
There is something that happens in the process of communing with God, something that takes place at no other time. We are changed in a way that we cannot fully understand. The divine superscription plays upon our hearts, and we come from that time refreshed. Rising above the petty problems that we confront in our daily lives—the harassments of Satan—we become a prince of God.
In the hour in which we live with the crisis that is coming, unimaginable in its ferocity, we need an inner experience that is deeper, broader, and higher than that experience that we are going to have to face.
“Wrestling with God—how few know what it is! How few have ever had their souls drawn out after God with intensity of desire until every power is on the stretch.” Ibid. That is the way it is when we wrestle, is it not? Every power is put on the stretch.
We will either receive the image of God or the image of the beast. When we begin the day with a mountaintop experience with God, having wrestled with Him, not letting Him go until we have the blessing, then we make progress in the divine science of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “When waves of despair which no language can express sweep over the suppliant, how few cling with unyielding faith to the promises of God. Those who exercise but little faith now, are in the greatest danger of falling under the power of satanic delusions and the decree to compel the conscience.” Ibid., 621, 622.
It is in the exercise of faith, this wrestling with God, this experience of saying to God, “I will not let You go until You bless me,” that God reveals to us His character which is at the foundation of Christianity. It is through the revelation of the Holy Spirit to our heart that we learn what the image of God is really like. Then that gives us a richness of faith and a spiritual perception and power to cope with satanic spirits.
For forty years Moses was in the wilderness guiding his flock, basically alone with God. When God finally came and spoke to him, he knew whom it was that was speaking to him. This is going to be, increasingly, the challenge for God’s people: to properly discern the spirits—to discern when it is the Spirit of God speaking as opposed to another spirit. That perception can only be achieved by a deep, living experience with God through His Word—an experience of wrestling and communing with Him.
“When this experience is ours, we shall be lifted out of our poor, cheap selves, that we have cherished so tenderly. We shall empty our hearts of the corroding power of selfishness, and shall be filled with praise and gratitude to God. We shall magnify the Lord, the God of all grace, who has magnified Christ. And He will reveal His power through us, making us as sharp sickles in the harvest field.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1089.
I am reminded of the man in John Bunyan’s allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, who had to enter through a gate that was barricaded, by men with swords. A sword was placed in his hand, and with spiritual violence he had to charge at those men, successfully wielding the sword and gaining the gate, through which he was then able to access further heights in his Christian life.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, for Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35–39.
If you know what it means to wrestle with Christ and to not let Him go until you have His blessing, you have a treasure that is beyond anything in this world. You have a treasure that is eternal. There is nothing that can separate you from the love of God, which is Christ Jesus our Lord, as long as you maintain that relationship of faith and meet the conditions of faith. Heaven must begin here.
There is a yearning in the human heart for home that God has placed there. In Christ the heart finds its home. The hearts of all of those who are part of that true home have found their hearts anchored in the great heart of God—a heart that is so big and so deep that it is measureless.
There is not only love in a true home, but there is rest. It is a place where there is trust and peace, where the heart has rest. Jesus said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:28, 29. The world is restless; it can find no peace. It cannot even begin to understand what it is really longing for in its heart. But Jesus says, “Come unto Me . . . and I will give you rest.” So that home is a place where there is rest, where you can be yourself and people are not looking at you with a jaundiced eye, but they understand you.
You know, it is amazing to me as the representatives of the various ministries work together how the Lord brings us into a oneness. Christ says, “That they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am [there is that home], that they may behold My glory which you have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared unto them Your name, and will declare it, and that the love with which You loved Me may be in them and I in them.” John 17:22–26. So here on earth we have a type of the heavenly home where there is love. There is rest, and the Prince of Peace offers peace that the world cannot give or take away.
There is also security, a sense of security and trust. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.” Psalm 91:1, 2. The secret place of union with God—the secret place of communion. I love how it says it in the Hebrew: “He that dwelleth in the secret of God.” And I tell you; the secret of God is a very fascinating secret. It is there that He speaks His mysteries to us personally.
We each need an individual faith in these last days. We may be separated from friends and loved ones. We need an individual faith so that when everything else is stripped away, we have the most valuable thing that there is in the universe, that deep, living, and abiding experience with God.
Home is a place where there is shelter. During the great time of trouble, the faithful will be repeating Psalms 46 and 91. They will become living truth to them.
John the Baptist saw the necessity of dwelling in the secret of God, and from the time that he was a young man, he made the choice to go out into the wilderness and commune with God. There he read from the prophecies of Isaiah until his very soul was filled with the heavenly vision. Because he had bowed low before the King of kings, he was able to stand erect before earthly monarchs. He had things in their proper perspective. Is not that the perspective we need? But the fearful and unbelieving will not be in the kingdom. (See Revelation 21:8.) Those who have learned to wrestle with God, who have learned the reality of His power, who have learned to fear Him, and who have bowed low in His presence, are then prepared to stand erect before earthly kings and give an account of their faith.
The hour is coming when the attention of all Christendom will be drawn to God’s faithful ones. It is very clear from the Spirit of Prophecy that the final issue, which will be the great focus of attention, is the issue of the Sabbath. This issue will be brought to their attention by the defense of the faithful, made in courts of law.
“There is treasure to be desired, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man spendeth it up.” Proverbs 21:20. In the spiritual sense, in the kingdom of God, the child of God has the richest treasure—a treasure far beyond gold and silver, which no earthly panics can affect. A treasure that is beyond the reach of thieves and robbers. So in the true home, there are riches. In the heavenly home there are mansions prepared, but the greatest riches of all are the riches of Christ—to learn of Him throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. To be able to personally go up to Christ, face to face, and speak to Him about the plan of salvation; about the cross of Calvary; about the science of salvation; about the mystery of redeeming love. There is treasure in the true home.
“For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehmiah 8:10. There is also joy in a true home. There is joy in the heavenly home, and there is joy in the spiritual home of the kingdom of God.
In the home there is shelter from the storm. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the protection [or the shelter] of the most High.”
And there is order in the home. “Here are they that keep the Commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12.
There is also freedom in the true home. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32.
There is fraternity, or fatherhood of God in the true home of the faithful. Through all of these features of the home, God speaks to our hearts and says, “I want you, and you, and you in My heavenly home. I want you in the earth made new. I have a title for you, to Abraham’s farm.”
It rests with us to decide whether he [Satan] shall control our hearts and minds, or whether we shall have a place in the new earth, a title to Abraham’s farm.” Messages to Young People, 105.
What a wondrous expression from the Spirit of Prophecy. We have a title to Abraham’s farm. You may have the title deed taken away from your home here; but do not worry; you are only a pilgrim here. If you are justified by faith in Christ’s righteousness, you have a title—a deed—to Abraham’s farm. You have a spot waiting for you in the earth made new, which is more beautiful than is Eden. A title has been given to you by virtue of justification by faith in Christ. I want to have an experience of being on Abraham’s farm in the earth made new.
We need to cherish the longings of our heart for home. Home is found in the great heart of God. The dimensions of His wonderful character are all features of what it means to be dwelling at a place called home, and those characteristics will be disclosed every more fully as throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity we learn what it really means to be home. To be home with God forever and ever and ever and ever.
Let us be there.