As the Titanic was sinking, the quartet which played at the dining hall earlier, moved to the upper decks. But instead of joining in with the frenzied crowd in trying to get off the ship, they started playing, in the hope that through their music, the panic may be calmed. That night, as the ship went down, they played Nearer My God To Thee. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? The vast majority of them would not make it off the boat and in a few hours, they would all be, literally, nearer to Thee. But beloved, more than that, this hymn reminds us that whatever may befall us, the closer we are to our Father, the closer we are to Jesus, the more our troubles vanish and that which the evil one purposed to harm us, He turns around for our good.

The hymn was written based on the story of Jacob and Esau. Now, Jacob is a great man of God. Indeed, our Father and Jesus both used the name of Jacob to identify Himself.

“Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.” Exodus 3:6

“‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Matthew 22:32

But beloved, Jacob was not a perfect man. In fact, he cheated his own brother Esau twice. First of his birthright,

“Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom.
But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”
And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”
Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.”
So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.” Genesis 25:29-34

And then of his blessing from his father Isaac.

“But he said, “Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing.”” Genesis 27:35

Now, some argue that Esau had it coming. He was the one who thought little of his own birthright and right to blessing from his father to begin with. Esau even married women who were a bother to Isaac and Rebekah.

“When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.” Genesis 26:34-35

But cheating is cheating and the consequence of that deception was the wrath of Esau on Jacob which made him run.

But beloved, when we are close to our Father, He loves us and still takes care of us, just like He did with Jacob.

“Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” Genesis 28:10-15

Notice how beautifully our Father greets Jacob? He gives a foretaste of what is to come because by the next book, Exodus, our Father adds his name, the name of this cheat, to His own name, and it becomes ‘God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’.

And see what our Father promised Jacob? Land, possession, lineage, expansion, fame, blessings and most important of all, His assurance that He will never leave him. And our Father delivered. Jacob found favor where ever He went and prospered. And when he finally mustered enough courage to return and make peace with his brother, our Father worked, what must have been the biggest and most meaningful miracle of all in Jacob’s life.

“But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” Genesis 33:15

All this while, Jacob has been afraid of meeting his brother.

“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 and the mother with the children.” Genesis 32:11

And who can blame him? After all, the last time he saw His brother, this was what Esau said.

“So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” Genesis 27:41

But look at the transformation. Not only that, Esau accepted Jacob’s tribute of peace and even offered to leave his own men with him to help Jacob on his journey.

“Then Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company which I met?”
And he said, “These are to find favor in the sight of my lord.”
But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.”
And Jacob said, “No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me. Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” So he urged him, and he took it.” Genesis 33:8-10

“And Esau said, “Now let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.”” Genesis 33:15

Indeed beloved, for us who are in right relationship with our Father, when we draw near to Him, He sees to all things. Even that which in our mind is the most difficult of obstacles, He will overcome.

But before you cry foul, understand that our Father gave us the story of Jacob and Esau to demonstrate the story of us and Jesus.

In the same way that Esau had His birthright and right to his father’s blessings, Jesus, God’s perfect and unblemished Son, who was daily God’s delight (Proverbs 8:30), had even greater claim on God’s blessings. But He willingly lay down all that to come and die for us so that we could be made right with God. And the most beautiful thing is, He did so because He loves us and because He knew that is the will of the Father, for He Himself says,

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:38-40

Beloved, you who believe in Him, are him whom our Father has given Jesus, and so to you has been given everlasting life, you will be raised with Him and to Him and in Him to be in Heaven, seated at our Father’s right hand, and you, just as it has was promised to Jacob, will be kept, will never be lost, because Jesus will never leave you.

So now we have Jesus’ birthright. But unlike Jacob, we did not steal it from Jesus, He gave it to us, and not because we deceived our Father, but because our Father purposed us to have it.

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:10-13

So now we can rest in the comfort of His love for us and claim the final verse.

“There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.”

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