I'm Broken—God Can’t Use Me
What God Does with Broken Things
In many cases, when something is broken, we throw it away as useless. But what does God do with broken things?
In this study, we’re going to look deeper into what becomes of broken things—in the hand of God.
1. First, turn to Jeremiah 4:3:
“For thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, ___________ ____ your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.”
Why do you think God tells the men of Judah to break up the fallow ground?
If you hope to plant seeds and get a crop, what must you do first to that hardened soil?
2. Turn now to Judges chapter 7. Gideon—that reluctant warrior—has been tapped by the Lord to lead His people and throw off the attacks of the Midianites. First, Gideon sets out a fleece—just to be sure God is with him. Begin reading at verse 1.
By verse 15, Gideon is confident enough to give his men clear instructions that he and the Israelites will have victory.
a. In verse 16, what does Gideon give each man to carry into battle?
b. Read verses 17-22. What are they to break?
c. When they broke the pitchers, in your own words, what happened?
Just imagine the scene…the noise…the lamps suddenly being revealed…the racket…the confusion for the Midianites, roused from a sound sleep. God used broken pitchers to bring victory.
Gideon had a lamp inside the pitcher. God said “Break the pitcher” because it wasn't until the pitcher was broken that the light would shine. My light will not shine until I'm broken.
3. Now turn to Genesis 32. We are reading about an encounter Jacob had with God. (This event pre-dates Gideon.) Begin with verse 24. Jacob's lying down, perhaps trying to go to sleep, and suddenly he's pounced. There he is in the wilderness, and all of a sudden out of the darkness a man appears who puts a hold on him, and a wrestling match starts.
24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
25 And when he [the man] saw that he prevailed not against him [Jacob], he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
26 And he [the man] said, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.” And he [Jacob] said, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”
27 And he said unto him, “What is thy name?” And he said, “Jacob.”
28 And he said, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”
29 And Jacob asked him, and said, “Tell me, I pray thee, thy name.” And he said, “Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?” And he blessed him there.
30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “for I have seen _____ face to face, and my life is preserved.”
31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.
2. Who started this wrestling match? (v. 24)
3. To learn his identity, turn to Hosea chapter 12. The prophet Hosea is giving a not-so-little history lesson to the people, recounting for them what their natural bent has been down through the years—to rebel and resist the Lord. Hosea arrives at this story of the patriarch Jacob and retells the Genesis 32 encounter:
3 He [Jacob] took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with ________:
4 Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him [the angel]: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us;
5 Even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial.
With all the “he’s” in this passage, the King James is more challenging to track. Other translations help us better understand what is going on with Jacob. From The Living Bible:
3 When he was born, he struggled with his brother; when he became a man, he even fought with God. 4 Yes, he wrestled with the Angel and prevailed. He wept and pleaded for a blessing from him. He met God there at Bethel face-to-face. God spoke to him— 5 the Lord, the God of heaven’s armies—Jehovah is His name.
4. Who was Jacob really wrestling with?
Hosea tells us that the mysterious wrestler was really the Angel of the Lord. Jacob himself said when he finished this wrestling match,
“I have seen ____ ________ (Genesis 32:30) face to face.”
Not an ordinary angel. Scholars agree this was the Angel of Yahweh, the Angel of Jehovah. It was a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Look back at Genesis 32:27. The name Jacob means “supplanter”—or, in today’s vernacular, a con artist. When the Angel asked Jacob for his name, we know He wasn’t asking Jacob for information. The Angel knew who He was wrestling with. Jacob may not have known who he was wrestling with to begin with, but the Lord knows all things.
What do you think the Lord’s purpose was when He asked him “What is your name?”
6. In this remarkable encounter, the emphasis is not on Jacob wrestling with Christ; it is Christ wrestling with Jacob. It was the Lord that initiated this wrestling match. Why in the world?...you ask.
a. What do you think God is determined to accomplish in Jacob’s life by this event?
b. What did the Angel do to physically stop Jacob from wrestling further?
Anyone who has done any wrestling knows that a wrestler depends upon his legs. These are the strongest muscles. Here's where the strength is.
The Angel is saying, “Let Me go,” and Jacob's saying, “I won't let You go.”
So what is really going on here?
7. Could the Angel have gotten away if He had really wanted to?
The Angel put Jacob’s thigh out of joint. God touched him not in the point of his weakness, but right at the point of his strength. He disabled him. He wiped him out. He's defeated. As a matter of fact, he's so defeated that not only can he not wrestle, he can't even run. Not even fight or flight. And if Esau comes, he can't prevail. Jacob is completely debilitated. The Lord brought him there. He is now a defeated man. He has lost the wrestling match.
Even so, what was Jacob bold enough to say? (v. 26)
That's very interesting. Now, he's completely weakened; he can't do anything. If he were wrestling even with another human, the human could get away. But here he's wrestling with the Lord.
The message for your life and my life in this scene is that it's not what Jacob was trying to get from the Lord; it's what the Lord is trying to do with Jacob.
- It was the Lord that started this particular battle.
- He brought Jacob to a place of isolation
- that He might bring him to a place of confrontation,
- so He might bring him to a place of desperation
- that he might bring him to that place of dependency, totally, completely dependent upon the LORD.
- In short, God broke him, the supplanter, Mr. “I'll Get By On My Own Plans and Manipulation.”
A Closer Look: Note How “Easily” God Lets Go
There is a crucial truth here we need to understand. When the Angel said to Jacob “Let Me go,” He was thinking in His heart, I surely hope he doesn't. I hope he doesn't. The Angel didn't want to get away.
You see, many times God will appear as though He wants to go from us, as though He does not want to hear us, as though He does not want to bless us. And if you deal with God just on the surface, and God says, “Let Me go,” and you let Him go, you're going to miss a blessing that you could have had.
Pay close attention. In all this wrestling match, the LORD never did pin Jacob. He never did put his shoulders on the mat. Could the LORD have? Absolutely! But He never did. What does that tell me? God will never make you anything you don't want to be.
He will wrestle with you but He will never pin you. You're going to have to come to the place to say, “Lord, I'll not let You go, except You bless me.” And if you think God's going to pin you to the mat today, He's not going to do it, friend. There is a battle you cannot afford to win. I hope you don't.
We will return to Jacob in a moment. Let’s look at some other “broken” things.
Broken Things in the Hand of God
8. Turn to Mark 14:3. The same event is retold by Matthew in his gospel (chapter 26) and Luke in his (chapter 7).
a. What does the woman do with the alabaster box?
b. What is released as a result of her action?
c. What does Jesus say will happen throughout the ages?
9. Turn to Matthew 14:19—the feeding of the five thousand. This event is one of the most well-known in the New Testament, the little boy and his lunch of “five loaves and two fishes.”
a. When Jesus takes the loaves and fish, looks to heaven and blesses them, what does He do next to the loaves?
b. A similar event occurs in Matthew 15:32-37. After blessing the loaves and fish, what does Jesus do?
These events are retold in Mark chapters 6 and 8, in Luke 9 and John 6.
10. Turn to 1 Corinthians 11:24-25, Paul’s description of the Last Supper:
(also recorded in Matthew 26, Mark 14 and Luke 22)
23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread: 24 And when He had given thanks, He ________ it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is _____________ for you: this do in remembrance of Me.
11. Two more verses before we return to Jacob:
a. Psalm 34:18
The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a _______________ heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
b. Psalm 51:17
The sacrifices of God are a _____________ spirit: a ____________ and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
By now, using God’s perspective, we have a different view of “broken things” when it comes to people, our possessions, and our relationship to God.
But back to Jacob in Genesis 32.
12. When the Angel asked Jacob for his name, He wasn't asking for information but for a confession. He was really asking Jacob that he might confess. But note verse 28:
a. “And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob but ____________...” (Jacob now becomes a different man) “…for as a prince, thou hast power with God and with men and hast prevailed.”
Or, as one translation renders it,
28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
Now wait a minute. I thought he lost this wrestling match, and now we find out he won it.
How did he win it? He won it by losing! When Jacob came to the end of himself, he finally prevailed. God changed his name from Jacob to Israel.
Israel means “prince of God,” one who overcomes, power with men and power with God.
How God blessed this man. But God had to break him in order to bless him. God had to cripple him in order to crown him.
Many of us have never been broken. We sit in church haughty, unbent, unbroken, proud.
b. One last passage in this study. Turn to Proverbs 6:16-19
“These six things doth the LORD hate, yea, seven are an abomination unto Him…”
1. A _________ ________
2. A ___________ ___________
3. Hands that _______ _____________ _____________
4. A heart that ____________________ _________________ _____________
5. Feet that ______________________________________________________
6. A ____________ witness that _______________ __________
7. One who _______ ________________ among __________________.
What is Number One on God’s abomination list?
___ ____________ ____________ (the opposite of brokenness)
Your Take-Away from Today’s Study
As you study the Bible, you learn that God delights in using broken things.
- Jacob knew brokenness that he might know blessedness.
- He becomes a different man.
- God has to break us all in order to use us.
I want you to know, there is no blessedness without brokenness, no matter how it comes.
The Breaking Word of God
If your heart is right, as you are studying the Word of God, the Word itself will break you. Hebrews 4:12 says, “The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit.” The word quick in the old King James English means it is living. It’s alive. It breathes. It sings. It pulsates with power. It’s called a sword because it cuts. It’s called a fire because it burns and a hammer because it crushes (Jeremiah 23:29). There’s power in the Word of God.
The Breaking of the Holy Spirit
Jesus said, “….the words I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). If your heart is right and you're not stubborn, the Spirit of God can break you.
God doesn't have to bring calamity into your life to break you. First Corinthians 11:31 says if we will judge ourselves, we'll not be judged.
That means you can say, “Never mind about having to break me, Lord. I'm willing to do it myself.”
Why go through the ordeal of giving God no other choice than to break you? Why not just say, “Never mind, Lord. Forgive my arrogance. Forgive my willfulness. Forgive my selfishness. Forgive the ‘Jacob’ that's in me. Oh, God, I'll not let You go unless You bless me.”
You can save yourself a lot of wrestling.