Jacob: Wrestling for the Truth (Genesis 32:22-32)October 17, 2022 ● 16 min
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Jacob Wrestles with God
22 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. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 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. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 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.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 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.
WHAT IS THE BACKSTORY?
It’s really important in the Old Testament to zoom out and figure out where the story you are reading is placed within the larger story surrounding it. If we cut Genesis into fractions, we’ll miss out on its meaning.
Let’s first look back at Jacob’s life -
Jacob is a twin, who struggled inside his mother’s womb. His life is marked by struggle, an ongoing theme throughout his life. He steals his brother’s blessing and birthright, and then leaves home.
Jacob prays to God in Genesis 32:9-12. He is fearful and trying to control the situation he finds himself in (about to meet Esau).
After the dream – Esau is a picture of grace. He runs to Jacob, kissing him.
During the dream encounter – struggling with his identity. He is given a new name, “Israel” – he struggles with God. And he doesn’t let go of this person he is encountering – he wants relationship! He is finally responding to God. He takes the journey we all take--moving from fearful to free, from wrestling with God and man, to accepting what He gives us.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
AW Tozer – “God formed us for himself.” Anytime we are out of relationship with God, we will struggle. Until we find ourselves in him, named by God and identified with him, we will struggle in our souls.
Genesis 47 – he bows in worship at the end of his life. He is in relationship with God, and lived out of the identity God gave him. He still struggled, but not in the way he had before he wrestled with God.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?
Deep soul struggle is addressed through Christ. He makes a way for us to cease striving and have relationship with God.
But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. - Isaiah 43:1
Do you know where you belong? Do you know you have an identity? Do you feel at home in my soul? Is God dwelling in my heart? If yes, your only response is praise! Your only response is worship and gratitude.
If not, invite God into your life in this real and meaningful way.
Check out Nicole’s book Help! My Bible Is Alive: 30 Days of Learning to Love and Understand God’s Word - https://www.amazon.com/Help-My-Bible-Alive-Understand/dp/1641580216
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