Jacob wrestled with God. I’m thinking that this wasn’t the first time. In fact, I think that this encounter with God represents Jacob’s life up until that point. He struggled with man and he struggled with God, and from this day forward, his nation will follow his name…
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.
Jacob was a deceiver and a trickster in his own family relationships, and then with his father-in-law, he sank to Laban’s level and manipulated their relationship in response to Laban’s controlling ways.
As he found his way in the world, he relied too much on his own ways and means instead of the provision of God. In returning to the land of his father, Jacob was on a trust journey. The angels had affirmed him at Mahanaim. And now right before he is to meet his estranged brother, he encounters God again.
This time, God wrestles physically with Jacob, and renames him Israel, as one who wrestles with God and is victorious, not overcoming God, yet overcoming all things with God. And that, my friends, sets the stage for the nation of Israel to be born and to live in never-ending relationship with God.
Israel has wrestled with God and his plan for them throughout history, and the Old Testament documents their following and wandering in their relationship with Father God. He is not done with them yet… he has more in store for the apple of his eye.
Romans 11 reveals how we were grafted into the tree of Israel as a foreign branch, and speaks of Israel being saved. Revelation 7 adds promise to the future of Israel, and although we do not know how or when these events will occur, we know that there is an overcoming in Israel’s future still…
For Jacob, he just needs to trust and rely on God more, and wrestle less. I’m not sure he can do it. I’m not sure I can do it. Can you?