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AND JACOB WAS LEFT ALONE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, September 19, 2010

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (Genesis 32:24).


Jacob was like most young people today. He had enough to eat. He had good clothes. He had so-called “friends.” He seemed to have everything. But one night it was all taken away from him, and he was left alone.

Isn’t that your greatest problem today? Don’t you often feel alone – especially when you are in a crowd of happy people? Don’t you often feel cut off from them in some terrible, unexplainable way? J. D. Salinger (1919-2010) wrote short stories and novels, like Catcher in the Rye. Many young people read that novel in college or high school. And it always touches a chord in their hearts, because Salinger put into words what these young people feel – an aching inner loneliness that no adult fully understands, and no one can help them overcome. My long-time pastor at the Chinese church called this phenomenon "youth's loneliness." J. D. Salinger became so obsessed with the alienation and loneliness of his own youth that he stopped writing these books abruptly. For forty years he lived like a hermit – alone – cut off from everyone in society. He did not make a public appearance or grant a newspaper interview for forty years, although he is still considered one of the greatest, most insightful authors of the twentieth century. Why? Why did he cut off all communication with the outside world and become a veritable hermit? It was because he gave up hope of ever overcoming loneliness!

This morning I am going to give you four thoughts about feelings of loneliness that many of you have experienced. Please listen very carefully, young person, because what I am going to say about your loneliness in the next few minutes could change the direction and course of your entire life.

I. First, the loneliness you feel is common to most young people in our time.

And there is no place more lonely for young people than a big city like Los Angeles. Author Herbert Prochnow said, “A city is a large community where people are lonesome together.” That being true, American cities are among the loneliest places on this earth! Literally millions of young people in cities like ours are lonely. How about you? Do you ever feel that no one really cares – that no one really understands you – that no one really sympathizes with you?

Your parents are either divorced or fighting with each other most of the time. Others have parents who are so busy that they come home tired and flop down on the couch to watch television. They have no energy left to listen to you. Isn’t that right? Your parents don’t really understand you, do they? They don’t really listen to your problems, do they? They can’t help you overcome loneliness – and you know it! You knew it before I even said it – didn’t you?

Your so-called “friends” don’t help much either, do they? You are afraid to tell them your inner turmoils and fears. You’re afraid if you tell them the things that are really bothering you that they will think you are weird, and you will lose their friendship. So you can’t really trust your friends either, can you – I mean about the inner things – and your fears of being left all alone. You can’t really talk to them about any of that, can you?

Where will you turn? Young people often feel like the writer of the Psalm, who said:

“I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top”
       (Psalm 102:7).

Young people often feel as lonely as a bird on the roof of a house! No wonder J. D. Salinger became a recluse, withdrawn, lonely and weird! No wonder so many young people are lonely and dissatisfied with life! They can’t live in a world without real friendship. They can’t live in a world of endless loneliness!

That’s why so many young people wander around in a mall. They have nothing else to do – but “hang out.” There are lights there. People are moving around. It helps a little, but not much! Alone in a crowd! Horrible! Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) wrote about that in a short story titled "A Clean Well-Lighted Place." It was about a man who sat in a well-lighted bar every night, because he feared the loneliness he would feel if he went home. 

That’s the way Jacob must have felt that night!

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (Genesis 32:24).

He was all alone. Then someone jumped out of the shadows and grabbed him. There was no one to help him. Jacob spent an entire night struggling with this man, who jumped out of the dark and threw him to the ground! It was terrible to be all alone, and then to be attacked like that!

Did you read in the newspaper about those two teenage girls who were mugged and raped, and somehow escaped? Did you read in the paper about that young girl who was kidnapped in Utah? Yes, in Utah! There’s very little crime there, but young people are being raped and mugged and kidnapped at an alarming rate. And there’s no one to help them. They’re all alone. Jacob found that out! It’s a frightening and lonely world out there for young people today.

One young person said to me, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to turn. I don’t have any real friends I can count on.” Have you ever felt that way?

II. But, secondly, the loneliness you feel can be cured in this local church.

That’s why God gave you this church! God put local churches like this in the world so that people could be happy and fellowship together – and not be lonely! Our church is here to cure your loneliness! That’s the reason we often say, “Why be lonely? Come home – to church!”

“And Jacob was left alone…” (Genesis 32:24).

Nothing can cure your loneliness like the local church! But you must come into this local church and make lasting friends here. The early Christians were happy because the church was their second home.

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat [their food] with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47).

Being in church much of the time filled them with gladness and joy. The Roman world was dark and cruel, and lonely. But pagans literally poured into the churches because they found warmth and happiness, and lasting friendships in the local church. They were in church every time the door was open! Follow their example and you won’t be lonely! My Chinese pastor, Dr. Lin, used to say, "Make the church your second home." Come back here next Sunday! Come all the way into the fellowship of our church! It will cure your loneliness! But you can’t just “pop in” to church once in a while. To cure your loneliness you must make a commitment to be here every Sunday, especially during the coming “holiday” season.

We have something going on every Thursday night, every Saturday night, and there are events going on all day Sunday! If you start coming to this church every week, you will not be lonely!

III. Thirdly, the loneliness you feel must be cured on a deeper level,
 to be lasting.

I would be dishonest if I didn’t tell you that you must have a deeper experience if the cure for loneliness is to be a lasting one. It’s great to have friends in the church, but that’s only the beginning. If your only purpose is to have new friends, you won’t be converted, and you will one day be cut off from God, and everyone else, in Hell. And there is no more lonely place in all the universe than Hell!

If the only thing you are looking for is new friends, you will leave sooner or later and go into a life of sin. Or you will ultimately die – and then experience the worst loneliness of all – in the Lake of Fire!

So, to permanently cure loneliness, you must go deeper – and you must look inwardly.

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (Genesis 32:24).

Jacob’s lonely night-long wrestling match represents the deeper, inward striving of the soul seeking Jesus Christ. You see, the man Jacob wrestled with was Jesus Christ Himself – the pre-incarnate Christ! The pre-incarnate Christ said,

“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Again Jesus said,

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate” (Luke 13:24).

Only when you strive to enter into Christ can you experience conversion, and find

“peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

You are cut off from God by sin. That’s why God isn’t real to you. Only through an inward conversion can you find “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

IV. And then, fourthly, the loneliness of conversion is necessary for you
to be saved.

What do I mean by “the loneliness of conversion”? I mean that no one can experience this for you. You have to go through this inner experience alone. The Apostle Paul said:

“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Ephesians 5:14).

You are going on in your life without any pangs of conscience. Then the Holy Spirit begins to awaken you. You begin to think about your sins. You begin to think about God and judgment. That’s God's Spirit awakening you.

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (Genesis 32:24).

The “man” was a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. Most people have a lonely, difficult struggle with Christ when they are truly converted. You must be convinced inwardly of your sin and your ruined nature. You must be convinced inwardly of the coming Judgment. You must come to Jesus, the Son of God, and believe on Him. Only then will you experience a real conversion, that will last for all time, and for all eternity. Only then will your spiritual alienation from God and existential loneliness be cured.

You see, the cure of loneliness is only a by-product. The main thing Jesus Christ does is pardon sin. When you have gone through the struggle and crisis of conversion, then, as a by-product, as something else that comes with pardon, you also receive a cure for what I call “existential loneliness.” Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee.”

Come into this local church. That’s the first step toward overcoming loneliness. Be here every Sunday. If you just come once in a while you won’t make real friends here. You have to be here every Sunday. And then listen to the sermons and think about them afterwards. Think about Jesus dying in your place, to pay the price for your sins, on the Cross. Then come to Christ. He is alive up in Paradise, on the right hand of God. Come to Jesus by faith and He will save you from your sins, and cure your loneliness and alienation from God. Amen.

Please stand and sing hymn number seven on your song sheet.

Come home to Jesus, the table is spread;
Come home to dinner and let us break bread.
Jesus is with us, so let it be said,
Come home to dinner and let us break bread!
Come home to the church and eat, Gather for fellowship sweet;
It’ll be quite a treat, When we sit down to eat!

The fellowship’s sweet and your friends will be here;
We’ll sit at the table, our hearts filled with cheer.
Jesus is with us, so let it be said,
Come home to dinner and let us break bread!
Come home to the church and eat, Gather for fellowship sweet;
It’ll be quite a treat, When we sit down to eat!

The big city people just don’t seem to care;
They’ve little to offer and no love to spare.
But come home to Jesus and you’ll be aware,
There’s food on the table and friendship to share!
Come home to the church and eat, Gather for fellowship sweet;
It’ll be quite a treat, When we sit down to eat!

Come home to Jesus, the table is spread;
Come home to dinner and you will be fed.
Your friends will be waiting, so let it be said,
Come home to dinner and let us break bread!
Come home to the church and eat, Gather for fellowship sweet;
It’ll be quite a treat, When we sit down to eat!
   (“Come Home to Dinner” by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.;
        to the tune of “On the Wings of a Dove”).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

You may email Dr. Hymers at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net, (Click Here)
or you may write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Genesis 32:22-25.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Come Home to Dinner” (by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.)
 

THE OUTLINE OF

AND JACOB WAS LEFT ALONE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (Genesis 32:24).

I.   First, the loneliness you feel is common to most young people
in our time, Psalm 102:7.

II.  Second, the loneliness you feel can be cured in this local church,
Acts 2:46-47.

III. Third, the loneliness you feel must be cured on a deeper level,
to be lasting, Jeremiah 29:13; Luke 13:24; Romans 5:1.

IV. Fourth, the loneliness of conversion is necessary for you to be saved,
Ephesians 5:14.