Yesterday our daughter Leah and I read the Bible from Genesis 32: 23-34 about Jacob wrestling with God. The backdrop of this story is that Jacob had left his father-in-law Laban, taking his wives and property with him. He sent a message to his brother Esau, who he had stolen his birthright from by deceit, and the messengers came back to tell Jacob that Esau was on his way to meet Jacob with four hundred men with him.
Jacob became very scared of his brother doing him or his family harm or possibly killing him, but prepared a great present of animals and servants for his brother from his possessions, safely crossed the fork of the Jabbok, and stayed behind to pray to God.
“Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip, and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as he wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
Then Jacob said, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.
So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel. “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.” (Genesis 32: 23-33)
Maybe you feel you are left all alone. Maybe you feel afraid like Jacob did, not knowing what’s going to happen. Jacob knew where to go when he was scared – to God, the God of his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham.
The Bible says that Jacob wrestled all night with a Man. This Man was an incarnation of God. Obviously Jacob was a physically strong man, to wrestle all night with someone, especially God!
Of course, Jacob realized later that he could have died – his life had been preserved. All God had to do was use one finger to put Jacob’s hip out of joint. Jacob limped the rest of his life, a reminder of his great night of struggle and of God blessing him.
What amazes me about this story is Jacob’s determination and endurance. He didn’t stop wrestling, even after God put his hip out of joint. He continued to fight hard. He told God he would not stop until God blessed him!
The Bible says that Jacob had struggled with God and with men, but had prevailed. That word “prevailed” comes from the Greek word yakol and means “to prevail, overcome, endure, have power, be able, to reach.” (Blue Letter Bible, Strong’s No. H3201)
Over the last year there are four areas in my life where I am struggling. I have wrestled with God in continual prayer over these things. Jacob is an inspiration to me, because he didn’t stop fighting. I need to keep wrestling with God in prayer. I won’t let go unless He blesses me! When Jacob left to go, the sun rose on him. As we spend time in God’s presence, His light will shine on us!
What about you? Is there any area of your life where you are struggling? Some situation you need to endure and to overcome with victory? Some area where you need more of God’s power?
Let’s learn from the patriarch Jacob. Spend a night in prayer to God, meeting him face to face as Jacob did, and wrestle with Him. Be determined. Fight for it. Don’t let go until God blesses you!