“And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.”—Genesis 32:31
The topic this morning is Untraveled Tracks, and here is one in this 31st verse before us, a path that Jacob had never trod before,—trodden by a man who had never lived before; for he was a new man with a new name as he started out upon his journey; and it says “as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him.” As he entered into this new path after his struggle and after the victory, the sun rose upon him.
There are many of us here this morning that could rise and give our testimony and say, “Thank God that dark night has passed in my life, and I have passed over Penuel, and from that day to this the sun has been shining on me, and now onto others to whom I am telling what it means to walk in the light with Thee.” This wonderful experience comes in a Christian life when the hour of victory has come and we walk out of the flesh to live in the Spirit and to enjoy the Spirit’s victory. This is a foggy morning, and folks somehow get the idea that the sun is not shining, that something is wrong with the sun; but it is just the miasma of Earth, just the clouds in the firmament, just the steam rising off the earth after a rain, and the sun is not affected by these little clouds of Earth. Although some of us are conscious of the fact that Jesus lives,—we walk in the light—yet the light is not brilliant, the sun does not rise, and so there seems to be a fog. We see, but we don’t see clearly. We are sure that we have an experience, but it is not out and out. We are sure we have warmth, but it is not enough. We are sure we have vision, but it is not a far vision. We are sure we have some victory, but it is not clear, it is not bright; and in order for it to be bright the clouds must be rolled away and the fog must be lifted so the sun can shine in a clear, glorious way.
Now we have all seen men and women who have had such an experience as this; and we will never be satisfied until that experience becomes ours. Somehow, we seem to think that it is circumstances. No, it is not. Jacob thought it was his circumstances and tried to fix his circumstances up by dividing the flock; but that did not get him out. Some of you sitting here say, “I think I will work a way out.” The way out is the way Jacob took, wrestling with God in his situation, until He becomes all and in all forever, Jesus everything. This is the experience that God is trying to bring Christian people to in the day in which we live. It is definite, thank God, a definite experience, and it comes from a definite crisis in the Christian life. You may call it what you please, I call it “Sanctification,” because it is God’s Word, that is, putting everything in Jesus, giving it all over to Him, a full surrender, to trust Him completely and give Him the whole thing, and the word for it is “Jesus everything.” He becomes your power and stay and comfort and joy and glory. He becomes the whole thing to you. Very simple,—and yet it is complex because you have such a struggle about it.
Victory For You!
You have so many ways out. There are so many tricks you could do before this one thing, and you hate to give up to it, and hate to face the crisis, and the flesh draws back from the crucifixion. You have tried a hundred things. Perhaps you have fought this kind of an experience. Why do you fight it? You know it is taught in God’s Word. You know there is a place for you this morning and God is trying to bring you into this place. Why not go through this foggy morning, and thank God that the clouds have lifted and let the sunshine of heaven flood into your heart.
I remember in Colorado going up Pike’s Peak. In the early spring time and through the summer we would make trips and walk up that nine miles to the top of the peak. My father had a good many acquaintances in the South, and as soon as the school teachers would get through teaching school we expected a group of them to come out, and I had to push them up to the top of Pike’s Peak, and keep them from slipping down. I took two or three of them up at a time, and I didn’t mind when they were small ones and not so hard to carry. We used to make trip after trip, and I had gone up some twenty times, but had never come into a glorious sunrise. I had heard other men talk about the experience they had had up there and some of the beautiful things; but had not seen them myself.
We started on night, three good, heavy men and two women as big as I was, and we had four burros, so we could carry and push them along when they had become weary. We went up through the night, and it was a very foggy night, and we couldn’t see far ahead even with the lantern light, and had to stay very close together. At other times we could strike out and see each other by the light of the moon and stars, but this night was foggy all the time, and we were damp and wet and stopped at one o’clock in the morning to build a fire on the timber line, and warmed the party up and tried to dry our clothes. It had not rained, but it was miserable and foggy, and they kept saying, “Mr. Rader, will we see the sun rise?” And I said, “It don’t look very hopeful,” and they said, “Let’s go back if we are not going to see the sun rise.” I said, “You will have to take the chance and the wet and everything else.” Finally we got to the last leg of the journey, about two and a half miles, and one of the women said she couldn’t go any further, and one of the men said he wouldn’t go, and we left them in a cave and went on struggling up until we made the top of the peak. They were all weary, and it was still dark and very misty. We knocked at the door of the house on top of the peak, but they wouldn’t open it. We sat around there in the chill, waiting in the fog, and it was as wet and damp as could be, and dark and disagreeable, and we hadn’t had any sleep and didn’t feel like talking. The first thing I knew the men had fallen asleep and didn’t care whether school kept or not, or whether there was any peak or sunrise or anything else.
Finally a little shaft of light, pink-like, began to glow in the mist roundabout us, and I said to myself, “The sun is coming up, but we will never be able to see it. No use waking the folks up.” A couple of squirrels chattered nearby and seemed to know it was going to be a pretty day. The bank of fog about us seemed to grow a little more pink, and a little redness came into it. It was like a great veil wrapped around us, and we sat there and waited, but could not see more than fifteen or twenty feet around, for the mist was there. We could feel a draft coming up the side of the hill, and the whole cloud bank came against us and it seemed to be a spray, as if a hose were spraying up the mountain. This pink veil seemed to be lifted by the wind and kept going past us and past us, and I said, “It looks hopeful that it will lift.” It kept on going, and we could catch the perfume off of the timber that was very many feet below us, and that was hopeful that the fog was coming away from the earth. It became pink and more pink and some of it rosy red, and after a while, as if cut off by a knife, the whole thing lifted, and while we were watching we could see the clouds roll and break until we could see a hundred yards away; and then it burst, and we could see the great clouds just roll and twist like smoke as it comes out of an engine when it first starts and the fire is underneath. We were all looking and watching those clouds as they would billow and roll and go up into the sky. And all of a sudden we turned to look down and everybody said, “Oh!” and we realized that it had become light, and every bit of the cloud had rolled away and was lifted and gone up into the blue, and now we could see forever and forever below us. We had never realized how big the world was; but now we could see clear out on the plain. It all lifted and went into the air, and oh, how far you could see! It seemed as if every tree and every twig was polished, and every roof received the sun’s rays. Over in the east that ball of fire had come up, and we could look over Colorado Springs and far into the western land and see “the Pittsburgh of the West,” Pueblo, down there, a great cloud of smoke hanging over it, and forever and forever stretching out—the prairie. From that hour every life up there on the mountain top was changed. No more would they think the world was little, for up on the peak they had gotten a view of it. The weary toiling through the night was over, the fog had gone away, and now the sun was up in its fullness and it was light everywhere and the vision was ours.
The Way To Victory
I know thousands of Christians today who are struggling up the mountainside. They know it is daybreak and light, but the mist has gathered around them and they say, “If I could only rend the veil,—if I could only push the clouds back!” Paul cried out, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Oh, this pride, this jealousy, this flesh! Oh, if I might rip it aside and see God and know Him in His glory! Hear me this morning! God Almighty in His Son, and by the blessed third person of the Trinity, has just such an experience for every saved heart,—to take the clouds away and let you have the fullness of the Holy Spirit bubbling like a fountain of living water in victory and glory in your soul. This is your privilege. God help you if you are struggling this morning, to say goodbye to the flesh and reckon it to be “dead unto sin and alive unto God” through Him, and accept the incoming of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. If Jesus is in your heart already, because you are a child of God and have been born from above, let Him have the full right of way. You get the fullness of the Holy Spirit by grace. Why not cease from all your fruitless striving and take His grace? It is His fountain, it is His life, it is His glory, it is His victory, it is His joy, it is His vision, it is His life if He comes to you; and, oh, He is sad this morning because you do not enter into all the fullness that He offers you. What a joy to step out of your little cramped self, by faith to say goodbye to it and live and walk with Him. This is the thing He wants you to have. And so, “As Jacob crossed over Penuel the sun rose upon him,” and as you cross over Penuel and the struggle is ended and you say a big “Yes” to God, if it means the ruining of your reputation, if it means the loss of all things, you will count them but loss and dross for the excellency of walking in the power and the glory of the Holy Spirit.
Men and women do not get this life until they are broken, until they have said goodbye to the flesh by faith and are willing to be made of no reputation, that they might walk in His life and have this fellowship. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light we have this fellowship, and the blood of His Son Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin,” thank God.
Simply Trust Him
Brother, sister, by faith this morning step into your inheritance and let Him have His inheritance in you,—everything in Jesus and Jesus everything. You grieve His Spirit because He wants to give you all this life and you go forth with your own life, with your own philosophies, with your own wisdom, when He wants to be wisdom to you this morning. Give Him all, and He will give you all. You let go, and He will let go. You let God, and He will let the Holy Spirit do these things for you. It is a swapping of things. Once you tried to carry your own, and now He comes and says, “I know what the awful curse of your flesh is, and how it breaks you down. I know how that disposition would pull you into the blues. I know how the natural working of your brain would get you astray. I know what the flesh has done; but I have taken all that you are and nailed it upon that cross. Now let me take your cross and you take me. Let me take your burdens and you take mine. Let me take all that you are and you take all that I am.” “He became sin for me, that I might become the righteousness of God in Him,” and this is the swapping, the trade of faith that does the work,—my weakness, my failure, my indifference, my inability, I lay them all on that precious cross, and rise with Him from the tomb and take the blessed Holy Spirit to be my life. It is this “reckoning” of faith; it is not my perfection. It is standing between the cross and the Holy Spirit and leaving all that I am there, counting it all worthless and stinking and buried, and choosing by faith every hour to take Him and reckon myself alive in His blessed life. This is the crisis, not to try my best to outwit Satan and to out-general the world, but standing here I reckon my powers as dead, and by faith reckon on His gift of victory, and His holding and seeing me through. He is my victory. He is my life. This is the “reckoning,” and He wants you to have it, and when you cross over that little place and say goodbye to self and how-do-you-do to life in Christ Jesus, His sun rises upon you. Some folks call it a blessing, some “the second blessing,” some “the victory of faith,” or “the victorious life.” They used to call it “soul rest,” and “heart perfection,” and some called it “a clean heart.” God calls it “sanctification.” You can call it what you please, but you all know what it is, and you all know whether you are there or not; whether that crisis hour has come when you said goodbye to the things of self. When any man says, “I have it, I have it,” he hasn’t even the outside primer or idea of it. You have HIM! It is a swapping, reckoning your old life to be dead, and the old self and the old man to be dead on that cross by faith, and reckoning yourself to be alive in Him, and counting upon it.
Hindrances To Victory
This is the crisis hour, and you don’t want to leave that old valley and be without a reputation. You don’t want to be without the esteem of people, and go without the camp with Him, take His reputation and bear His cross and walk with Him, and take up your cross daily and follow Him, identifying yourself with His risen life and with His glorious cause and with all that He stands for. This is that crucial hour when you stand, not trying to defend yourself, but letting Him be your defense. You take your place in Him. Oh, how many of you have stood in this crisis hour and drawn your sword and said, “Lord, though all men forsake you, yet will I never forsake you”; and when the hour came and they threw it up in your faces that you belonged to Him you have compromised. You went into the flesh and the compromising game, and you realized that you really did not have any fellowship with Jesus, and the joy had gone out of your life. Oh, my friends, I want to say about the number of backslidden Christians that have reached this crisis and failed Jesus at this point, God has again and again given you a chance to go through that open door and you have failed Him. I failed Him until I didn’t even care to live. If there ever was a hypocrite I was that hypocrite! But thank God, Jesus did something to make me stick. Jacob was a straight man alongside of me as I see it; but I thank God Jesus can get into a man’s life and keep his face steadily towards the cross of Jesus Christ. He can keep you, and He can give you victory; and this is what He offers you this morning, a place in Himself, where you will walk in Him with the sun shining on you. Will you have any enemies? More than you had before, and sometimes it seems that the tide is going against you. Sometimes I seemed pressed against a wall and pressed out of measure; but I have seen Him bring me through whenever I would lean on Him instead of myself. It is His power that does the work, it is “not by might nor by power, but by His Spirit,” and as you pass your Penuel and say goodbye to your own efforts and struggle, you will find He brings you out. Many experiences will come along when God will give you the chance to say the same thing,—that is where the burning comes and where you get a chance to reiterate that “yes.” Thank God I have had a chance the last week or two to go through the same experience myself on a higher plane; but God has to teach us that lesson again and again.
As I said last Sunday morning, I got to the place where I saw I was defending myself, and oh, my, the minute I saw it how God dropped my heart down in humiliation before Him; and that is what I mean by the burning, because then you have to confess it, and let God burn it up, and let men say what they please and count you what they will. Thank God, it is worth while to go through with Jesus and let Him have His way, and let Him burn up that which men think of you. These crisis hours must come in any man’s life constantly as the devil tries to make anything else of more importance than the thing that Jesus can do in his life.
How Mary, the mother of Jesus, must have felt! When I think of the Magnificat and how her soul burst forth when she cried out before Elizabeth what the Holy Ghost had done in her,—how she had been picked out of all handmaidens to be the mother of Jesus, and said, “My spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour, for He hath done great things unto His handmaiden. From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” She felt her exalted position. I wonder what Mary’s feelings were at the cross? It was a dark hour for her. She stood there and saw that which God had conceived within her and brought forth by His power. She had watched Him when He was baptized in Jordan and came out into His public ministry; and was there at the first miracle in Cana of Galilee, and said to the folks, “Whatever He says unto you, do it,” her soul bubbling within her, meditating on the work of the Holy Ghost in her body, and contemplating that Son of God, she knowing what He was. And now comes that terrible agonizing jolt when everything dies within her and He is on the cross. I imagine she stood there like many a mother and said, “The next heartbeat will come a little faster. I won’t have to give Him up. He cannot die. He is the Son of God. I know how He was born, and if He dies surely all that I have ever felt and known is simply an hallucination, a dream, a nightmare.” But He died. His chin dropped on His chest and she followed Him to the grave, and when they began to talk to her she could not talk. Mary said, “It is all over.”
Oh, my friend, I tell you when men and women live by faith there comes the agonizing hour when all we can do is just to grip God and hold on. What would you have felt in such an hour? It is easy for you now to stand on this side and look back on it, but stand on that side and look at that one that was hailed as the Son of God dying in the dark forsaken by God, and see the rocks rend and the blackness come over the earth, and Mary’s poor soul shrivels within her and she can only drop down and say, “I won’t leave Him.” And after a while in that chill hour there comes a soldier along and sticks a spear into His side and out comes water and blood. Oh, but that was a dark hour! Mary Magdalene stood beside her and said, “Mary, don’t cry.” And then her poor tongue got dry and she went on the other side of the rock and threw herself down and said, “My God, what does it mean? I, who was possessed of devils and got up every morning with hell in me, I who walked around possessed, the dirty, filthy, rotten, offscouring of that little town, and everybody threw their epithet at me, the drunken harlot. And He touched me and out of me came the devils and I walked with Him and I was changed, and my soul was flooded. How could He die? How could He die?” Mary comes over to her and says, “Don’t cry, my dear.” But she says, “What have we got to live for? Will the devils come back? Oh, what does it mean?” And there was darkness over the land, and all that was lovely hung up there on the cross, and the soldiers tossing dice below and laughing. Oh, that hellish laugh, forgetting other people, that can be gay when others are sad, and the devil says, “Come on with the crowd. Forget that Jesus stuff. Come on now, come on.” And he calls and beckons. Thank God, the disciples stuck anyhow. They just hung on and said, “Let’s do what He told us and gather in the little upper room. Let’s go and wait quietly.” And so they went and talked it over, all of them sad. Finally they said, “It is the third morning,” and they went out to that grave, and poor Mary Magdalene in the garden, heart-broken, said, “I haven’t even got that that I had before. They have even taken away the body that we bound with spices, and we haven’t anything.” She turned around and saw the gardener standing and said, “Do you know where they have laid Him? They have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have buried Him.” And after a while she looked up at the gardener again, and he said, “Mary!” Oh, you know the rest. Oh, who doesn’t know the rest that has heard the story of Jesus? His mother’s glad heart leaped, leaped like a hart. Mary Magdalene’s soul rejoiced and the tears of joy flowed as she cried to herself, “He is alive from the dead and standing there in front of me. Oh, the old cross, the laughs and the death,—but they are gone now.” And she runs to tell the disciples and Peter, “Come, He is alive. He is alive.”
If I had been in that company I would have ripped the roof off when I found out Jesus was alive, and run up and down the streets saying, “Thank God, my Jesus is alive,—alive from the dead, conqueror, victor over death. He is alive.” Oh, what a joy in these days to tell the glad news to men and women that this Jesus lives! Just as soon as they saw Him the sun rose, didn’t it? They had passed Penuel,—after the death hour had come and gone and they had gotten on the other side of death and looked at it from this side. They laugh at it now. It is all over now. Mary and the rest of them could stand and look and say, “Praise God, it is all over,” and rejoice in the glory of the Holy Spirit that came into their hearts, and in the blessed life, and as He would keep reminding them of the dark hours they rejoiced. How they rejoiced in Jesus!
Brother, sister, let me plead with you in Jesus’ name this morning, won’t you come to your funeral by faith and say to Jesus, “Jesus, if I lose my job, if every ambition of my life depends on it, Lord I am going through.” I like that little chorus some people sing, “I’m going through.” Jacob went through. Do you know what he said? “I will not let you go until you bless me.” You grip God this morning and say, “Lord, job or no job, I am going to go through on the glory side and have the sun rest on me, and I am not going to give up until you do it.”
“I’m going through, I’m going through;
I’ll pay the price, whatever others do;
I’ll take the way with the Lord’s despised few;
I’m going through, I’m going through.”
Glory to God, I tell you this morning it is lovely from the other side. It looks terrible from the death side, but oh, after you have passed Penuel and the sun rises on you it is lovely, and you wouldn’t go back into that wilderness life for anything in the world; and any little suggestion of it thrills your heart and scares it and you rush to the arms of your Shepherd.
You will have more struggles than you ever had before, but oh the consciousness that “there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” There is nothing so priceless and glorious as this. God wants to give it to you this morning, this joy of knowing that you are walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh. God wants you to make a big choice of it this morning and have your struggle over.
Brother, you have been bought with a price. God help you from this day on never to build another house of your own ambition, not to walk in the flesh nor live after the flesh. “Brethren, we are debtors not to the flesh to live after the flesh; for if we live after the flesh we will die,” and our peace will die and our crown will be forfeited; but oh, “If ye be risen with Him seek those things which are above.” Rise this morning and pass over Penuel and let the crisis come, and walk in the Spirit and live in the Spirit and abide in the Spirit. He has the plans, He has the kingdom, He has the glory, and all of it is His. Why not fit into His plan? Why not? You commenced in Christ, this morning end in Christ and step in. Oh, it is so easy, for He has done it all. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord of Hosts.”
Say now an eternal “yes” to the Spirit. Say “no” to the flesh, and reckon it to be dead, and alive unto God through Him. Oh, may the Holy Spirit do a mighty work in this audience this hour. Friends, the hunger of my heart is to see men and women who are babes in Christ get grown up; and that is the way to grow up, to pass over your Penuel and get to the place where you are living in the Spirit. “Launch out into the deep” and let down your nets,—all that you are, ready for a draught. Believe Him now. Believe Him now. There is a little chorus that goes:
“I will say yes to Jesus,
Yes Lord, forever yes.
I welcome all Thy blessed will
And sweetly answer yes.”
May this not be just a sermon and an hour of worship this morning, but may this be the place to some soul that Penuel was to Jacob. No more to wrestle, no more to fret and to fear; no more with human talking and human wisdom and human efforts and human ambition and human pride and human jealousy, but to leave it all by faith at the cross, and take this morning that life that is hid with Christ in God, to walk in Him, to let Him wonderfully walk in us. May all the blessings of the Holy Spirit be ours, as we go from this place. In Jesus’ name, Amen.