Gen. 32:22-24 – “That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants 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.” (emphasis added)
- “…Jacob got up…” would seem to imply that Jacob rousted his family out of bed to send them across the river. Why? Knowing his brother Esau was already on his way to meet him with 400 men, Jacob placed his wife, kids and possessions as a buffer between them. I think there is a line between fear and cowardice…and Jacob crossed it. Fear often reveals the deeper character, hidden by a master of deception.
- Many of us are quite capable of making good decisions and conceiving viable life plans. We are strong mentally, physically and/or emotionally and feel as though we handle life extremely well without a Savior. God must occasionally cripple our strong area in order to reveal His power in our weakness. Because our Heavenly Father knows each one of His children intimately well, He knows where, when and to what degree to “touch” each one in order to test and refine us. Our job is to keep wrestling until the blessing comes - not begrudging God the methods of blessing.
'Jacob,' he answered.
Then the man said, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.'
Jacob said, 'Please tell me your name.'
But he replied, 'Why do you ask my name?' Then he blessed him there.” (emphasis added)
- I love God's questions in Scripture! He never asks because He needs information. He asks because He wants the person being questioned to THINK! In the ancient Middle East, a person's name embodied that individual's character. So, when God asked Jacob his name and Jacob said – “Yaakov” (deceiver, one who “grasps the heel”) – Jacob confessed a lifetime of deception. But here's the precious part. God renamed him “struggles with God” – not just because Jacob and his descendants would forever struggle with Him – but because Jacob had struggled and OVERCOME God. One commentator observed, “When you battle with God, you only win by losing and by not giving up until you know you have lost. This is how Jacob prevailed.”
- We can learn two very important lessons from Jacob's wrestling match.
- Wrestling with God can be a very LONG process – they began wrestling at night, but “the sun rose above him” by the time the match was over.
- Both God's “touch” and His blessings can cause permanent change – Jewish tradition tells us that Jacob limped for the rest of his life.