Genesis 32:22-32 (NKJV) says: "And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. 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 asked, saying, “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 (Peniel) the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank."
I want to bring to a close this thought that the Holy Spirit impressed upon me about faith. He simply spoke to my heart saying, “Yesterday’s faith is not enough for the impending storms.” As witnesses and partakers of the Good News we must allow the Spirit to grow and increase our faith by revealing more of Jesus and His Word into our hearts.
It is amazing when you journey through the Gospels you read how Jesus not only taught with authority and demonstration, but He modeled it continually in His life. John 17 is one of the best examples of this. Just minutes before Jesus would be falsely accused, betrayed by a friend, denied by another, illegally tried and ultimately beaten, tortured and sentenced to death we hear the cry of His heart. It is a cry filled with limitless love, unending mercy and abounding grace. You will not hear Him cry out, “Father this is unfair” even though it was, “Father give them what they deserve” even though they did, or “Vengeance is Mine” even though it was. Instead we hear Him cry out:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You.”
“Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as we are.”
"The glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one.”
And “I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
Jesus prayed these prayers and then went into the Garden of Gethsemane to have His faith enlarged in order to finish His journey and glorify the Father. Jesus entered the Garden exceedingly sorrowful even to death and came out ready to finish what He and His Father had started.
For every trial and for every impending storm there is a garden available where we can enter into the presence of God and have our faith enlarged. Jacob’s garden was a place just over the ford of Jabbock. It was the place where he would enter in filled with doubts, questions and fears and come out blessed, knowing and satisfied.
The first question dealt with the why. Why did Jacob to get alone with God? The second and third questions will deal with the what. What was Jacob really crying out for and what did Jacob receive?
To answer the second question we have to start with Jacob’s prayer in Genesis 32:29.
In the text we find Jacob holding on for dear life and when the Lord saw that Jacob wouldn’t let go the Bible says He released the blessing. The very next words out of Jacob’s mouth is a prayer - “Tell me Your name, I pray?”
This cry from Jacob is more than just the cry of someone who wants to be blessed. Jacob is crying out for a relationship with the person who just gave him the blessing. As I stated in my last post this question is a question of authority. Jacob wants to know the name of the authority that released his blessing. Jacob didn’t walk away when he got blessed, he pressed in even more and prayed this simple but powerful prayer, “What is Your name?”
Jacob was seeking more than a blessing, he was seeking intimacy with the person/authority that just blessed him.
When Jacob started this whole journey, the Bible says in Genesis 28 that Jacob had a dream and in the dream he saw a ladder set up on the earth and its top reached the heavens and he saw that the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. It also says he saw the Lord standing above it and he heard Him speak these words, “ I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.” The Lord then says to Jacob, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you where ever you go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” When Jacob wakes up he makes this vow saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.”
Jacob sensed that he was in the in the presence of God but what he did not know is that he was in the presence of God. He uses the word IF when he is making his vow before God and when he sets the stone as a pillar for God’s house he says, “in all that you give me I will give back to you a tenth.” In this exchange we see the difference between a loving God whose desire is to bless, provide for and fellowship with His children and a child whose actions are all based on merit and paybacks void of any relationship or intimacy.
Friends, it is the difference between having a form of religion and having a personal relationship with a loving God. God does not want our sacrifices, He wants our hearts. I am learning that the purest forms of worship we can give to our God are trust and obedience. It is simply trusting Him at His Word and acting on it when the Spirit speaks. Without trust we will never do what He has called us to do. Trusting in Him is what unlocks the door for greatness in Him.
We are taught in Ephesians 3 that as we trust in Him completely He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask according to the power that works in us. I don’t know about you but when I read this I see a portrait of an awesome God with limitless power. I see an all consuming fire that is Christ Jesus living in me.
Jacob had more trust in himself and his abilities than he did in anything else. The wrestling match would expose this and bring him to a place of brokenness and desperation that would leave him crying out in prayer – “I want to know your Name! I want to know you!”
Think about Jacob’s life and how he took advantage of his brother in a weakened state, manipulated his dying father, and if that’s not enough he thought that by placing rods at the feeding gutters that his sheep would reproduce all spotted and speckled sheep. As I stated in the last post, somewhere pressed between a dream and a wrestling match Jacob had come to the end of himself. Jacob was undone and for more than crying out for a blessing he was crying out for a relationship with a loving God.
Finally the third question - What did Jacob really receive? Listen to what it says in Genesis 32 verses 27, 28
“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 man, and have prevailed.”
Jacob received a new identity. Jacob is no longer Jacob the supplanter, he is now Israel the overcomer. Jacob entered into his garden strong in himself and his abilities and came out dead to himself but mighty in his God. As the Word of God declares and promises Jacob became a new creation. His old life had past away and a new life began. Jacob was now identified as one who came face to face with God and lived. Jacob received his blessing, intimacy with his God. The fruit of that blessing was the prosperity and growth that God had promised him in the dream.
Too many times we get caught up in the fruit and we miss the real blessing which is that our faith in Jesus Christ is enlarged and our dependency on Him is increased.
The Word declares to us that we can do all things through Jesus Christ who is our strength. Jesus taught in the parable of the vine that we can do nothing apart from Him. In John 15 verses 4-7 Jesus mentions the word ABIDE seven times. The word means remain, continuing, dwelling and withstanding- to be firm and immovable without yielding.
This is the life of a new creation. This is the meaning of the abundant life Jesus promised us. That we know Him and the exact same love He has for the Father will be in and live in us.
John, both in his Gospel and three Epistles refers to the word ABIDE 43 times. He uses it as a command, a warning, as an assurance, an exhortation to Godly living, and as an invitation to a deeper love in Christ.
In John’s Gospel chapter 13 and verse 23 we see a beautiful picture of what abiding looks like. Jesus is at the dinner table and He is about to reveal His betrayer and in verse 23 it says, “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, who Jesus loved.”
This verse is referring to John himself. When I read this I see a man holding onto every word that was coming out of the mouth of Christ. He had an intimacy so deep that it says he was leaning on His bosom. Church, this is the will of the Father that we live in Christ with the same oneness He had with His Father. John spoke about abiding so much because he knew the power in it.
Friends hear me, “Yesterday’s faith is not enough for the impending storms.” We are called to a deeper intimacy with Jesus. We are called to a deeper life in prayer. We are called to a deeper love for His Word. We are called to a deeper relationship with the Body of Christ. All of this is only possible through a life spent abiding in Jesus Christ and growing deeper in love with Him. Simply said another way – we are called to lean on His bosom the way John did and sit at His feet the way Martha’s sister Mary did.
Jacob entered into the wrestling match because he had finally come to the end of himself. His cry was for a relationship with his God and the blessing was a new identity.
Let this be the cry of our hearts and the focus of our journey in Christ.
Blessings and enjoy the ride!