Strength in Weakness

“By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.” Hebrews 11:21

When Rabbis taught in Old Testament times, they’d sit down. Jesus taught sitting down on numerous occasions. Why on earth would a crippled old man stand up on his staff to worship and prophesy over his sons?

Jacob was a shepherd. The staff he leaned on was a shepherd’s staff. The staff was what the shepherd used when he was leading his sheep. When one of the sheep started to wonder off, he would smack the sheep with the staff and the sheep would get back in line. The shepherd’s staff, in scripture, is a picture of correction.

Jacob understood this because he’d been corrected. Years earlier he had wrestled with the Lord. In his arrogance he wanted to extort a blessing from the Lord by his strength. The Lord wrestled with Jacob all night, hoping that Jacob would give up–that he would, by his own will, yield trying to extract something from God by his own abilities.

When Jacob stubbornly refused to repent, God grabbed Jacob’s thigh. The word thigh means the place where a sword would be worn or the reproductive strength (loins) of a man. God hit him in Jacob’s place of strength and Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

And then, when Jacob yielded because he could go no further, God then blessed him.

The reason Jacob was standing up the day when he blessed his children was so that he could lean on the weakness in him, where God had made Himself strong in Jacob’s life. For, like Paul, it was in his place of weakness that God made him strong.