The Lord has a message for each of us who wrestle with God: you must return to your God. Rather than going ahead in your own direction, wait for God, always, to provide his direction. Stop wrestling. Stop trying to take control of the throne of your own life…
2 The Lord has a charge to bring against Judah;
he will punish Jacob according to his ways
and repay him according to his deeds.
3 In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel;
as a man he struggled with God.
4 He struggled with the angel and overcame him;
he wept and begged for his favor.
He found him at Bethel
and talked with him there—
5 the Lord God Almighty,
the Lord is his name!
6 But you must return to your God;
maintain love and justice,
and wait for your God always.
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.”
The story of Jacob wrestling with God is a profound part of the history of Israel. That’s when Israel was given his new name and the people of Israel their name. Jacob wrestled with God and with humans and overcame. Israel has had a similar experience over the centuries. Struggle is not foreign to this people.
So when Hosea brings the Lord’s charge against Judah and Jacob, he is using a metaphor which makes 100% sense to the hearers and readers. Why do you struggle with God, Israel? Why do you test me and try me and why must you wrestle against me so?
God’s charge could be leveled against me. Why, Marc? Why wrestle? Why battle me for the position of authority and sovereignty in your life? Why the push-back and the back-slide and why the resistance? Why?
We have so much in common with Jacob, with Israel, with Judah…
The Lord has a message for each of us who wrestle with God: you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always. Return. Turn around. Stop going in the direction you are going and turn back toward God and his ways. His ways are love and justice.
Rather than going ahead in your own direction, wait for God, always, to provide his direction. Stop wrestling. Perhaps, like Jacob, we should beg God for a blessing as our wrestling ceases. As we cease striving, knowing that he is God (Psalm 46:10), God’s presence and guidance will overtake our need to control and win.