Editor's Note: Each Sunday, DrydenWire.com publishes a submitted article in a weekly series from Pastor Brian Cole. If you would have a question for Brian or would like to learn more about him, visit his website or his official Facebook page.
Gen. 32:1-32 - Wrestling with God - Part 2
We now continue with where we left off last week in the life of Jacob:
Vs. 22-27 - “That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.”
Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?”
Jacob begins this evening all by himself and that is precisely where the Lord wanted him. It’s gonna be a make it or break it day for the guy tomorrow. Esau’s bearing down on him with 400 dudes. No doubt Jacob’s pacing around the campfire nervous as heck, and all of a sudden this guy shows up and wants to wrestle. And impressively, to his credit, Jacob more than welcomed this opportunity and goes the distance.
Notice the fact that this wrestling match went all night long... it’s another detail I want ya to catch. Part of the picture being painted here is just the long- suffering of God and the patience of God, and you’ll see where I’m at in a bit. If you’ve ever wrestled, even playingly, you’ll know that after even a couple minutes your pretty burnt up! Relatively speaking, wrestling “All night long” there’s a picture of longsuffering and patience.
God’s gonna break this guy down, He’s going to get through to this man, but the picture is: God will go all night with you man! He will go the distance, He is incredibly patient. And we’ll get back to that.
Now we’re not told who started this wrestling match, but I am under the impression that Jacob was not the one who started it, because at this point it is God who is after some things from Jacob! He wants Jacob’s self-reliance, his scheming, his carnality; He wants this man to come to a place where is is just truly going to walk before the Lord, trusting and believing in him, and that is exactly what I believe God wants from you and I as well.
Understand that if you and I are going to grow spiritually, we have to come to the Word of God and we have to look at it like we might look at a mirror. (How many of you have looked at yourself in a mirror in your life and thought “Who the heck am I?” That the Word of God is telling you and I something about ourselves. Ya see, if I come to the Word of God seeking knowledge only: “Here’s how I can help so and so...” or... “There’s this person in my life over here that really needs to hear this...”
These are the people you see during the sermon that are usually elbowing each other when they hear something the other guy outta know, right? If I come to the Word of God primarily in that fashion, I am showing myself to be a spiritually immature individual.
No doubt there is to be that element present, don’t misunderstand me, of being in the Word and seeking to help others, but listen. Preeminently, priority, I must FIRST come to the Word of God asking God to show me myself! I must allow the Word of God to be that mirror, showing me who it is that I really am before God, that I might be led to a place of confession before the Lord. It’s only then that He can begin a real work in me.
So God really begins to wrestle this guy and put him in a corner.
Here’s what God has done. He knows that Jacob can’t go back to Labon. And He knows that Jacob thinks he’s got it all figured out - he’s got an escape route, he’s clearly marked his exits and he can hightail it out of there if he has to.
Listen, Jacob has designed how he can run and now God breaks his leg! Now all of a sudden he’s a cripple and Jacob is not going to be running from anyone! The only thing this man can do now is cry out to the Lord, and that’s by design! God will cause us to limp to increase our faith!
What this was all leading to was vs. 27. The Lord says to Jacob “What is your name?” And what God is doing here is bringing Jacob to that place of confession!
Remember the last time Jacob was asked this same question in the Scriptures, he lied about it!
“What’s your name?” “Why, I am Esau, you're firstborn.”
So the Lord says, “What is your name?”
Of course the Lord knows his name, what God has done here, what all this orchestration has been leading to, the reason God has led this man into a corner - was to get to this very place in vs. 27 where God has sovereignly brought Jacob to the place of confession.
I can just envision this knocking the wind out of Jacob. I can see him just kinda dropping his head... Remember, we’ve covered this, Jacob’s name in the Hebrew means ‘schemer, supplanter, heel-catcher.’
So Jacob hangs his head (Softly “Alight, ok, my name is Jacob, that is who I am. I am a con-artist. I am a schemer. I’m very good at setting things up to my advantage, I am Jacob.”
And Notice God’s response?!!!! Incredible!!!!
Vs. 28-32 - “Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
Ya see, before God can bless you, and I don’t care how long you’ve been walking with the Lord, and often times the longer we’ve been walking with the Lord, the tougher this gets because we think we got it all together... Before God can bless you and I, before God can begin to do a real work in our hearts, the Lord must bring us to a place of confession. Confession before Him, confession of who we really are.
God has now accomplished that here with Jacob and God is going to begin to bless the sandals off him, and God is going to begin to do a real work in this man’s life. Jacob is brought to a place of confession and now God changes his name!
He says: No, Jacob is NOT who you are going to be! Now you are going to be Israel! Now you are going to be a prince before God!”
The word Israel in the Hebrew means “GOD RULES!” In other words, for all the years prior to this monumental evening in his life, Jacob has been self-ruled. Ruled by his own fleshly appetites, by his own carnality, he was master of his own domain and his own heart. And now he is to be ruled by God!
You’ll notice Jacob names the place ‘Peniel, because I have seen God face to face.’ There’s another Scripture in the N.T. that ties that right to Christ. This admission, along with Hosea’s commentary in Hos. 12:4-5 leaves little room for doubt that this was another Christophany in the O.T., that is, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. Jacob is wrestling with Christ here!
It’s interesting that Jacob turns around and asks the same question that was asked of him - “What is your name?” And the Lord says: “What are you asking me that for?”
He’s essentially saying to Jacob: “Come on man, you know exactly who I am.”
Yet what I see in Jacob here, particularly in this question, is - “Hey, I wanna know your name. I want to be intimate with you. I wanna be close to you man, I want to be on a first name basis with you.”
I see in this question a desire on Jacob’s part for intimacy! I want to be close to you God.
I really hate to end it here, but because of time and space I must. This is what I want to close with. Ya see, in Jacob we see a man that has come to the end of himself, it is ONLY NOW that this man is in a position to be ruled by God and blessed by God, and next week I will get into this closing thought in more detail.
Blessings to you all.