Dr. James Dobson tells an amusing story which illustrates a common tendency. A certain medical student felt that he could simplistically and single-handedly take on a mental patient who had certain delusions by logically setting everything straight in his mind. You see, this patient thought that he was dead. The aspiring doctor believed that all he needed to do was rationally prove to this man that he could not be dead. Sitting down beside this man, the intern asked him if dead people could bleed. The patient said that he was certain they could not. The intern then pricked the finger of the patient and triumphantly asked him what he thought now that blood appeared. “Well, I’ll be!” he responded, “Dead people can bleed after all.”
Preconceived ideas are very difficult to shed, even in the light of undeniable facts. I was rather distressed to realize that I am like the mental patient when I come to Genesis 32. I am unwilling to admit that verse 28 could be true:
And he said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”
Having a certain theological predisposition, I could not accept these words at face value. How could God possibly imply, much worse clearly state, that Jacob had contended with Him and won? How can man prevail over God? And how can it be said that Jacob contended with men and won? Had not all of his previous striving been in the power of the flesh? Had it not brought about only negative results? Had God not clearly indicated in the record of these events that such conduct cannot be condoned, nor should it be imitated? Why, then, does verse 28 say that Jacob has contended with God and men and won?
I, like the insane man, had it in my mind that my presupposition was correct, and thus no facts could ever successfully contradict it. Men cannot prevail with God, I reasoned, no matter what Moses wrote in verse 28. But I was wrong. Much of Jacob’s striving was wrong. Indeed, all of his efforts at self-help were wrong until we come to Genesis 32. But just because Jacob’s previous striving was sinful does not mean that all striving is such. There is a striving which God commends and to which He even surrenders, so to speak. It is that kind of striving which I would like us to look for as we come to this chapter in the life of Jacob.
Genesis 32 is the pivotal chapter so far as Jacob’s life is concerned. He is a vastly different man here from the person we have come to know in previous chapters. The preoccupation which obsesses Jacob is the necessity of facing his brother Esau, from whom he has deceptively obtained the birthright and the blessing of his father. While the results were consistent with the revealed will of God, the means employed were not pleasing to Him. The result was a “brother offended” (cf. Proverbs 18:19).
When Jacob had left Canaan for Paddan-aram, his mother had told him that he would only need to be gone for “a few days” (27:44), and then, when Esau’s anger had cooled, she would send for him (27:45). Twenty years had passed and, so far as we are told, he had never heard from his mother. That must have led Jacob to conclude that Esau still harbored a grudge against him. Jacob thus had good reason to fear a confrontation with his brother.
From a divine point of view chapter 32 was the turning point of Jacob’s spiritual life. Jacob had been a bargainer, even with God, up to this time. In Genesis 28 after the vision of the heavenly ladder Jacob made a vow, but it was much more of a bargain with God than a surrender to Him:
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the LORD will be my God. And this stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house; and of all that Thou dost give me I will surely give a tenth to Thee” (Genesis 28:20-22).
To me, this was a bargain with God. In return for God’s presence, protection, and provision, Jacob would let God be his God. Of all that God gave to him in the form of wealth, Jacob would return ten percent. In effect, Jacob has made God his agent and offered Him the normal fee. What a far cry from what a man’s response to the living God should be!
All of Jacob’s deceitful practices which we have seen over the years of his life are the result of a fundamental misconception. Jacob felt that spiritual blessings were to be secured by carnal methods and means. Jacob rightly believed that God had promised to make him, not Esau, the heir of promise with the rights of the first-born. He valued this blessing while Esau despised it. What he did not yet know was that he did not have to connive and scheme in order to obtain the promised blessings of God. The encounter which Jacob will have with the Angel of Jehovah will correct this error and will instruct Jacob as to how and why spiritual blessings must be obtained through spiritual means.
Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him. And Jacob said when he saw them, “This is God’s camp.” So he named that place Mahanaim (Genesis 32:1-2).
The appearance of the angels in verses 1 and 2 sets the tone for the entire chapter. In his first personal encounter with God at Bethel, angels had played a part in the heavenly vision of Jacob:
And he had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it (Genesis 28:12).
In that dramatic revelation Jacob came to realize that he was in a holy place, a place where heaven and earth met. In fact, it was a place of access between heaven and earth; it was “the gate of heaven” (28:17).
In chapter 28 it was the presence of God that was stressed. While God promised to be with Jacob, to provide and protect him in the land of Laban, nevertheless God was present in a special way in the land of Canaan. Jacob must someday return. Now as Jacob is returning to the land of Canaan, God sent His angels to meet him in a special way. This was intended, I believe, to underscore the power of God. This is very significant to Jacob at this point in his life.
In chapter 28 Jacob was leaving the land of Canaan. God wanted him to realize the special significance of this land so that he would always look forward to the time of his return. Now, however, Jacob is returning to the land. The fact most prominent in Jacob’s mind is the hostility of his brother Esau. If Laban had been angry and intended to do harm to him, how much more was Esau to be expected to be hostile? What more assuring experience could come to Jacob than to be met by a host of angels, reminding him of God’s infinite power to protect him from Esau’s fury just as He had done in the case of Laban (cf. 31:24). Jacob saw that where he camped there was another camp, normally unseen (cf. II Kings 6:16-17). It was the angelic host of God, who would protect him regardless of what dangers lay ahead.
Jacob concluded that God’s camp was there where the angels met him. What better place for him to make camp than alongside the angelic campsite? Where could a man be any safer? And so the name of the place was called Mahanaim, “two camps.” From such a point of security Jacob would send ahead messengers, who would seek to soften the anger of Esau in preparation for the arrival of Jacob and his household. It would seem that the events of the rest of the chapter take place at this camp.
Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He also commanded them saying, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: ‘Thus says your servant Jacob, “I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed until now; and I have oxen and donkeys and flocks and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight.’” And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him” (Genesis 32:3-6).
Jacob felt compelled to contact his brother Esau. To some extent he wished to bring about a reconciliation. He wished to inform his brother of his approach and, even more, to assure him of his kind intentions. The substance of his message to Esau was that he had returned a wealthy man. In this case he was not coming back in order to place a claim on his father’s wealth. Jacob sought to assure Esau that his return was a friendly and non-threatening one. All that he sought was Esau’s favor.
Jacob seems to have a keen sensitivity here toward the feelings of his brother. Perhaps he had gained an appreciation of Esau’s feelings by being the victim himself of one more cunning and deceitful than he. Undoubtedly Jacob’s very recent brush with danger was still fresh in his mind. Jacob is on his way to becoming a different kind of person, and this message is the first indication of it.
The messengers’ report of Esau’s response to Jacob’s message was frightening: Esau was on his way to meet Jacob, accompanied by 400 men. Who could have imagined any intent other than one that was hostile? Esau’s men, like Laban’s relatives (31:24), were not just coming along for the ride. Jacob had little reason for optimism, and any of us would have responded similarly to such a report. Verses 7-12 record for us Jacob’s two-fold response to the word he had received that Esau and company were rapidly approaching:
Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies; for he said, “If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the company which is left will escape.” And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who didst say to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,’ I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to Thy servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me, mother with children. For thou didst say, ‘I will surely prosper you, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude’” (Genesis 32:7-12).
Assuming the very worst, Jacob divided his company into two divisions. His thought was that while one group might be attacked, the other had a chance to escape (verse 8). Since the group was divided into two camps and the word for camp is the same as that of verse 2, it is possible that Jacob somehow concluded that his encounter with the angels was intended to provide him with a pattern for this decision to divide into two companies. While it was an act stemming from fear and not faith, there was nothing particularly wrong with the division in and of itself.
The prayer of Jacob is the first recorded in Genesis (28:20-22 seems to be only a shadow of a prayer to me). It, too, reveals a decided change in his outlook. Some commentators have criticized it, pointing out certain theological omissions or weaknesses. This, to me, is like a boat full of theologians observing the prayer of Peter, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30), and then criticizing its brevity or the fact that Peter did not say, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” This was a desperate moment, and Jacob prayed fearing that Esau was to be upon him momentarily.
Needless to say, the prayer was uttered with the tone of urgency. Jacob’s plight was a desperate one. This was a foxhole variety prayer. Beyond this, the prayer evidences a new humility in Jacob. “I am not worthy …” (verse 10) is now Jacob’s confession. The smug self-confidence is gone, and so is the bargaining mentality. Jacob has no way to manipulate God as he has done others. God’s promises are the only basis upon which he can make his petition, and so he concluded his prayer, “For thou didst say …” (verse 12).
So he spent the night there. Then he selected from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milking camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on before me, and put a space between droves.” And he commanded the one in front, saying, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks you saying, ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and to whom do these animals in front of you belong?’ then you shall say, ‘These belong to your servant Jacob; it is a present sent to my lord Esau. And behold, he also is behind us.’” Then he commanded also the second and the third, and all those who followed the droves, saying, “After this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him; and you shall say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob also is behind us.’” For he said, “I will appease him with the present that goes before me. Then afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” So the present passed on before him, while he himself spent that night in the camp (Genesis 32:13-21).
Vital faith need not be idle faith. Faith without works, James reminds us (James 2:14ff.), is dead. Thus we ought not be too quick to condemn the actions of Jacob described in these verses. There is certainly a clever strategy behind Jacob’s efforts, but there is nothing intrinsically wrong in what he does. Remember that for many years Esau had observed the cunning character of his brother Jacob. The reception of one large gift would not necessarily be convincing enough to Esau that Jacob had changed his ways. Instead, Jacob sends wave upon wave of gifts to Esau, stressing the new nature he has which makes him want to give rather than to receive and to serve rather than to supplant.
Consequently, Jacob divided the gift of livestock into separate droves, each tended by servants who followed their flocks. First there were goats, next sheep, then camels, cows, and finally, donkeys. Usually the females were accompanied by a smaller number of males, which would serve as breeding stock to make the herds of Esau larger and larger as time went on. It was a gift which would make Esau prosperous.
As Esau approached nearer to Jacob he must pass by each drove of livestock. Those who tended these animals were carefully instructed how to answer Esau’s inquiry as to whose livestock these were and where they were heading. Each was to inform Esau that these were Jacob’s livestock, a gift to Esau, and that Jacob would be found further back. The cumulative effect was hoped to appease Esau’s wrath and soften his anger (verse 20). Again, Jacob and his family spent the night in the camp.
Now he arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. And he took them and sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had. Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. And when he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” And he said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip (Genesis 32:22-32).
For some undisclosed reason Jacob was compelled to break camp in the middle of the night. He first saw to it that his wives and maids crossed the Jabbok, along with their children. Then the rest of the goods were transported to the other side as well. It would appear that while Jacob was making his last trip to the original campsite before joining his family on the other side of the Jabbok he was confronted by a “man” who would oppose his crossing over to the other side and who would threaten to keep Jacob from entering the land of Canaan.
As biblical scholars have observed over the centuries, there is much in this episode that is cloaked in mystery. However, we can make several observations with considerable certainty. First, we know that this “man” (verse 24) was an angel:
In the womb he took his brother by the heel, And in his maturity he contended with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor. He found Him at Bethel, And there He spoke with us (Hosea 12:3-4).
More than just an angel, this person was the Angel of Jehovah, the pre-incarnate Son of God, Who appeared in human flesh. This is certain in the light of Jacob’s words: “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved” (32:30).
The struggle was not a dream or a nightmare. Never has a man awakened from such a “dream” with a limp! And it was a struggle which God Himself initiated: “Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak” (32:24).
Jacob was mistaken if he reasoned that Esau was the barrier to his entrance into Canaan and the blessings of God. In this wrestling match it was not Esau who opposed Jacob, but it was God Himself. We must marvel at Moses’ report that the angel had not prevailed against Jacob, a man now almost 100 years old. How could it be that God did not prevail over Jacob?
It must be pointed out that Moses did not tell us that God could not overcome Jacob, only that he did not. At this point the Angel disabled Jacob by dislocating his hip. This would be devastating to a wrestler. It would be like breaking the arm of a quarterback or the leg of a running back. Jacob was now unable to wage an offensive battle. He was helpless. All he could do now was to cling defensively in desperation. And this he did.
Jacob, at the very point of being incapacitated, seemed to gain the upper hand. The Angel plead with him to be let go, for the dawn was breaking. It looks as though the Angel did not wish to be seen in the daylight. The Angel implied to Jacob that he now had the winning edge (contrary to the reality of the dislocated hip). Jacob was tested by being encouraged to make a request of the Angel which He was in no position to refuse. For Jacob, the bargainer, this was a tempting situation. Unlike his previous actions, Jacob asked only for a blessing (verse 26). Finally, Jacob had come to realize that the only important thing in life is to be blessed of God. In the words of Proverbs, “It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, And he adds no sorrow to it” (Proverbs 10:22).
Esau could neither provide nor prevent the blessing of God. It was not Esau that stood in the way of Jacob’s blessing in the land of Canaan. On the one hand, it was God Who opposed him. On the other, it was Jacob himself, who by means of his trickery and treachery, his cunning and deceit attempted to produce spiritual blessings through carnal means. The blessing of God must be obtained from God himself, and this must be done by clinging to Him in helpless dependence, not by trying to manipulate Him. That is the picture which is conveyed by this struggle in the night hours between Jacob and his God. A realization of this fact brought about a dramatic change in the character and conduct of Jacob, and thus his name was changed to reflect this transformation.
The Angel of the Lord asked his name, and he had to reply, “Jacob,” which meant “the supplanter.” This must have been as uncomfortable for Jacob as it was for childless Abraham to refer to himself by his name, which meant “father of a multitude.” No longer should Jacob be known as a supplanter, for now he was a man who prospered because of his faith in the purposes and power of his God, and so the name Israel was given him.
No expression is more puzzling than that of verse 28:
And he said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”
How could God possibly make such a statement? Does this not indicate that somehow God was blessing Jacob because of his previous trickery and deception? Is God commending Jacob for the way he overcame men in the past? The key to understanding this statement is to recognize that it is not a historical statement but a prophetic announcement. God did not refer to Jacob’s past acts here but spoke of his future confrontations, particularly the one which he would have with Esau shortly.
Jacob did prevail with God in his wrestling match, although in many ways he did not really overcome God, for he had been immobilized by the dislocation of his hip. His only act was to cling tenaciously to the Angel of Jehovah and, in the words of Hosea, “He wept and sought His favor” (12:4). In this sense, and this alone, God was “overcome” by Jacob. In this same way we who are His children and the heirs of His blessings can prevail with God.
Having prevailed with God, Jacob was assured of victory no matter what opposition men might offer. This certainly and specifically included Esau. In the words of the apostle Paul: “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Prayerfully prevailing with God assures us of prevailing with men. If God is on our side, we cannot be overcome. This is what verse 28 was intended to convey to Jacob. In learning how to prevail with God, Jacob had also found God’s means of prevailing with men.
The lesson which Jacob learned here is one that is vital to every Christian. It is a transforming truth, for it explains the reason why God’s blessings can only be obtained by godly means. It revealed to Jacob the reason why all of his previous “victories” were really disasters, resulting in discord, hatred, and hostility.
Genesis 32 emphatically instructed Jacob that the Christian life is a spiritual warfare. That is why we see so much emphasis upon angels. Angels met him when he entered the land. An Angel opposed him when he attempted to cross the Jabbok. The blessings which God promised Jacob were spiritual blessings, and spiritual blessings cannot be obtained through fleshly means. If Jacob’s life in Canaan were to receive God’s blessings, Jacob must learn to wage spiritual warfare. He must realize that his major obstacle is not his brother, but his God. Once God is with us, victory is certain. Since our God is a sovereign God, no one can resist His will—not Esau, not Pharaoh, not Assyria, Babylon nor Rome.
All of Jacob’s life up until chapter 32 had been characterized by carnal striving to secure divine blessing. Now Jacob has learned the folly and futility of such self-effort. Entrance into a life of blessing will be achieved only on the same basis as Jacob secured the blessing of the Angel of Jehovah, by clinging to God to fulfill His promises and by depending upon Him to provide and protect when we are opposed.
This does not imply that man should therefore be inactive and passive. Jacob was hardly passive in his struggle with the Angel. But our activity should be rightly directed and motivated. We must first be assured that we are seeking that which God has promised. We must begin by striving with God for His blessing. Only then should we engage in activities other than this, and these must be consistent with a genuine faith in God. Just as our goals are to be godly, so must our means.
What a lesson this chapter provided the Israelites. Here is the origin of their name as a nation. Will their blessing as a nation come from any means other than those which Jacob has learned from his struggle with God? I think not. This is what Moses sought to convey to the Israelites as they (like Jacob) sought to enter the land of Canaan and secure God’s blessings. Ultimately it was not the Canaanites, the Hittites, nor the Perizzites who would keep the nation Israel from God’s blessings; it was God Himself Who would oppose them if they failed to hope and trust in Him. And it was God Who would defeat the Canaanites for them if they trusted in him.
Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him. But if you will truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. For My angel will go before you and bring you in to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them. You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them, and break their sacred pillars in pieces. But you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst. There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets ahead of you, that they may drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and Hittites before you (Exodus 23:20-28).
The lesson for us is the same. Our warfare is a spiritual one, and it cannot be won by carnal means:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6:12-20).
It is not by accident that the word “struggle” (Greek, pala) is virtually the same as the translators of the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament) employed for Jacob’s “wrestling” (Greek, epalaein) in Genesis 32. Because spiritual victory can only be obtained by spiritual means, Paul outlined the spiritual weapons which all Christians must employ.
There is a very significant illustration of the use of spiritual weapons in the book of II Corinthians:
Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, —I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! —I ask that when I am present I may not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses (II Corinthians 10:1-4).
Paul’s authority was being challenged by some of those in Corinth. What a time for most of us to get our egos caught up in a contest for supremacy. What an opportunity for us to exert our power and influence and to defend our authority. What a time to use every kind of political and strong-arm tactic. But what did Paul do? He employed the meekness and gentleness of Christ (verse 1). He shunned the use of bravado and fleshly authority. This was a spiritual conflict and spiritual methods must be employed.
“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts (Zechariah 4:6).
The great tragedy in Christian circles today is that much of what we do is by carnal means. We employ these means because that is what we, by our old nature, are inclined to do. Also, it appears to work; and surely, we think, the ends justify the means. And so when we disagree with one another, we seek to align the key power forces on our side. We do not pray and let God change men’s hearts (cf. Philippians 3:15); we try to politically outmaneuver the opposition. The blessings of God are spiritual, and they cannot, they will not, be obtained through methods which are carnal.
Since God is sovereign, all men must do is to prevail with Him. If He is for us, we have the victory. Neither human nor demonic opposition can thwart the purposes of the sovereign God (Romans 8:31-39), and since God has purposed to bless men as they prevail with Him, we must devote ourselves to this task. But how do we prevail with God? Our text suggests several ingredients. First, we must come to the place of recognizing our own inadequacy and helplessness. We must come to the end of ourselves and recognize the futility of our own carnal devices. Jacob, I believe, came to this realization in Genesis 32. He could not resist Esau, nor could he even defeat the “man” who opposed him. He was helpless because of his dislocated hip. Second, we must trust in that which God has promised to do. Jacob did not prevail with God in some new and uncharted path. He prevailed with God in a matter about which God had repeatedly spoken—the blessings which He would pour out on Jacob as the recipient of the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant. The word of God was the only claim which Jacob had upon God. Finally, Jacob clung tenaciously to God to accomplish what He promised to do, even when it seemed humanly impossible.
That is the way in which men have always prevailed with God— by recognizing their own inadequacy, by trusting in the revealed Word of God and His promises, and by clinging to God alone to do what He has promised (cf. I John 5:14-15).
The first step, my friend, is to trust God for the blessing of salvation. We are unworthy of this gift, and yet God has offered it to all men (cf. Romans 10:13). We deserve only the eternal wrath of God (Romans 6:23). God has promised to save men on the basis of faith in the work of Jesus Christ, Who died for our sins and Whose righteousness will save any who calls upon His name (John 1:12; Acts 4:12, 16:31; II Corinthians 5:21). Have you made this first step? By clinging to God and trusting Him to do what He has promised, you can have the blessing of eternal life. And all subsequent blessings will come in the same way: by self-distrust and faith in God to accomplish what He has promised.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him (Colossians 2:6).