I have not written in a little while, but it is just because I have been busy with my classes and with life in general. However; I feel that God has put something on my heart to share and it hasn’t left my mind now for a couple of days. The story of Jacob wrestling with an angel has been on my mind, and for some reason it has been on my heart.
If you are not familiar with the story of Jacob, let me give you some background info (if you know it already, you can skip passed the Bible verses). Jacob is the son of Isaac, who is the son of Abraham. Now Isaac had twin sons, but they were not identical (Jacob, and Esau) Esau, being born first, was the eldest and Isaac’s obvious favorite. Jacob was more of a wimpy mama’s boy. On a side note, in these times names were usually descriptive of someone’s personality or physical feature; Jacob meant “deceiver”.
Now in Near Eastern families there were two important traditions: When the father neared death, he always gave his oldest son the birthright and the blessing. The birthright was the leadership of the family, and the blessing was a double portion of inheritance (twice as much as the other brothers would recieve).
Now Jacob was extremely jealous of Esau for being daddy’s favorite, and he was always trying to figure out a way to cheat Esau out of his birthright and blessing from day one. One day he bribed a hungry Esau to sell him his birth right for a bowl of soup.
25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.
27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)
31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”
33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.
34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.
So Esau despised his birthright.
Now having the birthright, all he needed was the blessing. Now tradition was not that the inheritance would be put in a written will as it is today, it was to be verbally given to the eldest son. So when Isaac was on his death bed he told Esau to go out and hunt for them a meal and when he got back they would eat together and Isaac would give him his blessing. Rebekah having Jacob as her favorite, cooked a meal and encouraged Jacob to disguise himself as Esau (Isaac was nearly blind anyway) and go in for the blessing before Esau got back.
When all was said and done, Esau was furious to have been tricked out of both the birthright and now the blessing and vowed to kill Jacob, so Rebekah sent Jacob away to her brother Laban (ironic that he had to flee from everything he inherited from the blessing)
Now to skip a lot and fast-forward to the point I want to make (which you should really read the story of Jacob if you never have, it’s a really good one!) several years later God has commanded Jacob to leave his uncle’s and go back home. So Jacob and his family packed up and headed out, but the thought occurred to him that Esau may still want to kill him, so he sent messengers ahead of him to talk to Esau and find out if he still wanted to kill him or not. The messengers came back and said that Esau was coming to meet him with 4 hundred men.
Jacob panicked and sent his two wives and children to go ahead (there’s a man for ya *rolls eyes*)
That night the angel of the Lord appeared to Jacob and physically wrestled with him. Now many theologians debate that this was actually Jesus in His form before he came to earth, but we won’t go into that debate now.
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.
Now I am getting closer to my point:
Here we see Jacob at his breaking point, and now he is not actually making a demand but he is really begging and pleading for a blessing, because he has gotten himself into a pickle and he really can’t worm his way out of it.
This name change was actually his “blessing”. It indicates a change of nature. The angel of the Lord is saying, “You are no longer to be a self-governed, clever heel catcher; but now to be a man whose life is governed by God.” Israel means “a prince with God.”
This is the new birth, being born again. This angel is saying you will be blessed by no longer being mastered by self/flesh, and now being mastered by the spirit of God.
What God has put on my heart is that He wants to bless you by changing your nature from a self-governed individual into a person who is relying and trusting in Him.
Here is my question for you, have you been wrestling with God? Have you been fighting for control over your life? Have you been fighting God? At first you may say no, but think about it. Has there ever been a time that you felt in your gut that you were living contrary to the way God would want you to? The biggest blessing you could ever receive is that of turning everything over to Him!
God pursued Jacob until he finally surrendered to His will, and His plan. The same God will pursue you! Jacob spent years running for his life instead of trusting God… How long will you run?
Jesus was God in human form, he came here and died so that you could put your trust in Him and have eternal life. Have you put your trust in Him, or have you been fighting against it?
P.S. if you are curious about what happened when Jacob and Esau met up after this event of Jacob wrestling with God, I suggest you pick up your Bible and start reading in Genesis 33 🙂