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Gen. 32:1-32 - Wrestling with God - Part 3
Last week we read the rest of Genesis 32 and ended with the Lord blessing Jacob, and in Jacob we saw a man that had come to the end of himself, and it was ONLY THEN when he was in a position to be ruled by God and blessed by God. I want to take this whole week to dwell on and reflect on that since it is so important.
So Jacob, coming to this place now, from being self-ruled to being God- ruled, Jacob is going to make the same discovery that the Apostle Paul did.
That when I’m in my weakest position possible, that is when God is going to show Himself in mighty and dramatic ways.
And was that not the very same lesson the Apostle Paul learned in 2 Cor. 12:9 - “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
What really resonates with me in this story is this wrestling that goes on between Jacob and the Lord. Of course the Lord initiates it, even as He does in our own lives - God came and found us. Sometimes we like to say that we found Jesus. He didn’t need finding.
So God initiates with Jacob here, but then Jacob embraces this wrestling and he goes the distance. He is wrestling with God all night long! He’s not running away, he’s not giving up, he’s not trying to scheme his way out. No escape route! This man has come to the end of himself, he just can’t obey and he’s sick of it, he’s sick and tired of not being able to walk by faith. He’s at the end of his rope.
He’s saying - “Listen God, I’ve got to have you, you have got to bless me,
- I don’t wanna be this way anymore,
- I am tired of myself, thinking more of myself than I ought to.
- Will you lift me out of myself?
- Will you bring me to You?
- God just bless me, I’m tired of this!
- I’m not letting you go until you do!
And here’s the great part. He really wants to walk by faith, he really does, but he knows he just can’t do it. He comes to that place where he knows he can’t do it on his own. And NOW God blesses him.
So, In vs 26 he can’t wrestle anymore, his leg is broke! The only thing he can do is CLING onto the Lord and that’s what he does. Are you seeing that?
The Word of God is telling us that it is only when we come to recognize our helplessness that we are brought to cling to God. And it is in that clinging, when we have let go of everything else that we come to discover the unspeakable blessing and treasure of the only thing that’s left in our grasp. And that is the Lord alone.
When we get to that place of confession, when we get like Jacob did, to where it is that the Lord ALONE is what we’re holding onto, then we are going to discover that
- we don’t need to walk in fear,
- we don’t need to compare,
- we don’t need to worry about the world around us,
- we don’t need to worry about being accepted...
We’re going to discover that freedom from envy and comparison, all that garbage, we’re going to find ourselves in a place of true freedom before the Lord. where the Lord can begin now to do a mighty work in us and bring us into all that He has designed and created us to be!
But you say: “Game Over, Jacob loses!” Yes, he lost, but in reality he won! When we lose by surrendering to God, we ultimately win!
Jacob goes from resisting too resting. He goes from cunning too clinging. He’s crying out to the Lord!
Then God asks him that unusual question in vs. 27: “What is your name?” Why did he ask his name? Sort of an admission! Again, what did Jacob’s name mean? “Heel catcher, Supplanter, manipulator...” What’s your Name!? “Dude... “freak, Deceiver, conniver...”
That’s a lousy name, its gonna take time for you to grow into this name, but from now on your name’s gonna be Israel.
Sometimes God is waiting for us to admit who we are! Remember the pool of Bethsda, and there was this old wives tale where the angels would come down and stir the waters and the first one to the pool would get healed.
And there was this man there who had been invalid for 38 years, and when Jesus saw him he asked a very peculiar question: “Do you want to be made whole?” (John 5:1-9).
It’s a very good question because not everyone wants to change. You go to a druggie and ask: “You wanna get off drugs? You think everyone will say yes?!
Not everyone wants to change Some people are comfortable right where they are.
So here’s what Jesus is saying to Jacob: Hey buddy, you wanna keep being the kniver, you wanna keep being the manipulator, or do you wanna be different?
And Jacob says: “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” Good answer!
“Your name shall be Israel for you have fought with God and men and prevailed.”
But I thought he lost! Yeah, he lost and then he won because he did what God wanted him to do.
What does Israel mean? I mentioned one of the meanings, but there are many translations - “One who God commands,” “Let God rule,” “One who fights victoriously with God...”
All of those definitions are upgrades from: “Heel catcher, supplanter, deceiver...”
We win by losing! We find life by committing it to God.
Let me say this, especially to our young people. You have your dreams and aspirations for life, but here’s some truth. Commit your life to God, understand that His plan for you is better than your plan for yourself.
And He may say “no” too many things in your life, but what He’ll say “yes” too later will be so much better, and you’ll look back and say “Thank you Lord.”
That’s where we find Jacob towards the end of his life, leaning on a staff.
Heb. 11:21 - “By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph bowing in worship over the head of his staff.”
That staff was a reminder of how God had broken him.
Are you prepared for eternity? See, Jacob messed up, he did some crazy stuff, but he got right with God and was forgiven, and at the end he was able to look back, reflectively and worshipfully. Maybe you’ve made some mistakes in life. Ok, repent of those mistakes, ask God to forgive you and end on a high note!
Some of you never made that decision to get right with God. God loves you so much that that Jesus who wrestled with Jacob was the one who came back to earth and was born in a little manger. He lived a perfect life and went to the cross voluntarily...
And if you don’t know Him I would be happy to introduce you to Him. You can contact me in any of the ways shown on this page.
Blessings to you all.