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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Greenberg

A Perfect Example of a Perfect Example

When it comes to the people we read about in the Bible, we all have favorites. In the Brit Chadasha (New Testament), my favorite is Peter because while he was mightily used by G-D, he was also a person that the Scriptures transparently show his humanity and personal weaknesses. Paul says in Romans 7:19,

19 For the good that I want, I do not do; but the evil that I do not want this I practice.

We really don’t read examples of Paul’s failures and errors. However, when it comes to Peter, we are exposed to his victories and his failures. So, when I read about Peter, it helps me to have confidence that G-D can use me even though there are many times when, like Peter, I struggle with my humanity.

In the Tanakh (Old Testament), my favorite is Jacob for the same reason that I love Peter. Jacob is a person that the Scriptures call upright, as in Genesis 25:27,

27 When the boys grew up, Esau became a man knowledgeable in hunting, an outdoorsman, while Jacob was a mild man, remaining in tents.

In verse 27, the word generally translated a mild man is the Hebrew word tam which means upright, perfect, or even morally innocent. Yet, we also see him as the one who deceived his father and defrauded his brother out of his blessing.

I think one of the things that makes me like both Jacob and Peter is that even though they have spiritual ups and downs, they both seem to have a heart for G-D. They both at times give in to their flesh, but they never seem to give up on their faith. They seem to have a deep understanding of G-D’s covenant promises. They know that while they may fail G-D, He will never fail them.

It is because of Jacob’s faith in G-D, even when Jacob sinned, that G-D met with him on the way to Laban’s house to remind Jacob of His covenant promise. It is this reminder that we read in Genesis 28:5,

5 Behold, I am with you, and I will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land, for I will not forsake you until I have done what I promised you.”

This reminder helped Jacob to get beyond his sin and walk in G-D’’s forgiveness and restoration. And it was these same words of covenant promise that we are reminded of when we read in Hebrew 13:5,

...For God Himself has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” 6 so that with confidence we say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What will man do to me?”

which is a quote from Deuteronomy 31:6,

6 Chazak! Be courageous! Do not be afraid or tremble before them. For ADONAI your God—He is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.”

It is vital to also note that both the verse in Hebrews 13 and the verse in Deuteronomy are spoken by G-D to His people who have already sinned. Once again G-D is encouraging them not to sin anymore and reminding them that He would not leave them nor forsake them. This is vital to understand, because just as Jacob fell and sinned and just as Peter fell and sinned, you and I will unfortunately also fall and sin. But it is also vital for us to remember that just as G-D never left Jacob and G-D never left Peter, G-D will also never leave us.

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