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."
Let’s look at this amazing wrestling match between a man and his God! As I stated in my last entry, I want to share with you three questions the Holy Spirit led me to and answered from this well-known and frequently preached text in the Old Testament.
The Three questions are:
- What caused Jacob to get alone and wrestle with God?
- What was Jacob really crying out for?
- What did Jacob receive from the Lord?
In Genesis 31 we find out that Jacob is being pursued by an angry and hurt father-in-law. For the last 20 years Laban had been reaping abundantly at the expense of Jacob’s hard work and the faithfulness of Jacob’s God. What started out as a 7-year agreement between two men turned into 20 years of Jacob being manipulated and deceived by Laban. Jacob was truly reaping what he had sown in his own life. Realizing this, Jacob confronts Laban and informs him that their time together is finished! After hearing this, the Bible says that Laban’s countenance had fallen and he went after Jacob. This was a good reason for Jacob to be fearful.
In Genesis 32 verse 7 the Bible says Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed when he got word that his angry brother Esau and 400 men were coming after him. An even better reason to be fearful, but I believe it goes much deeper than that.
As much as Jacob was running from people who had issues with him, he was running from himself. Jacob is on a journey with God! It is a journey that will bring Jacob to the end of himself. It is a journey to an encounter with a loving God who wants to transform his life. Jacob is about to enter into a wrestling match with a jealous God who wants to be his All in All.
Jacob’s wrestling match with God goes deeper than a simple cry for relief from current circumstances. It is the cry of a man who has come to a place in his life where he realizes that everything he has gained has come from his ability to control, manipulate and maneuver. As much as Jacob is on the run from an angry, hurt brother and the bondage of a possessive father-in-law, Jacob is coming to the end of himself and all his abilities.
This wrestling match is the result of a man who realizes his ways are not working and his talents are not enough. Jacob is on a journey to find his true purpose in life. He is running away from his past and into his future. This wrestling match is the result of a man who wants to trust in something bigger than himself and his abilities. We read in our text that that night has turned into day and the match is still going on. Jacob’s resolve has caused the Angel of the Lord to take drastic measures and dislocate his hip in hopes he will let go. When this fails the Angel speaks to Jacob and releases the blessing. In Genesis 32:29 we read Jacob’s response to the blessing “Tell me your name, I pray”? When I studied this out I learned that Jacob’s response is the same response Moses had when he encountered God at the burning bush. After God speaks to Moses and tells him all the things he will do and say, Moses says to God, “Indeed when I come to the children of Israel and say to them the God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
His inquiring of God’s name is really a question of authority. What Moses is really saying to God is, “on what authority shall I tell them I am speaking?" Jacob in his response to receiving the blessing is doing the same thing. What he is really is crying out for in his prayer is a relationship with the authority that just gave him a new name.
It is why I am convinced that what has brought Jacob to the place of getting alone with God and wrestling is more the act of a man who has come to the end of himself and all his ways than a man filled with fear seeking a way out. It is the result of a man who all his life has been manipulating and deceiving things to get his desired outcome. It is the result of a man who finally realizes that everything he has gained in the name of self has only entangled and trapped him in bondage and conflict.
This wrestling match was needed and could not be avoided by Jacob if he truly wanted to fulfill his purpose and future in God. The same is true for you and me if we truly want to reach our full potential in Jesus Christ. If your heart’s cry is to do the work of God and as Jesus has promised greater works than He did, then like Jacob we must truly be willing to come to the end of ourselves. We must be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to fill and consume us with brokenness and a thirst for the things of the Kingdom of Heaven. In other words we must be filled with the consuming fire from heaven that compels us to go deeper and to jump all the way in.
I spend a lot of time crying out for revival in the land. I am believing for a move of the Spirit to sweep our Nation, New England and even more specifically Rhode Island. God has promised us a revival in the land. He has promised us He will hear from heaven and heal our land. His Word has also revealed to us that we (His church) are the gateway to this revival. We must be willing to humble ourselves, turn from our wicked ways and pray. Said another way, to truly see revival in the land, the church like Jacob must be willing to come to the end of herself and allow the Spirit to speak and lead us. The Bible says those that are led by the Spirit are the true sons of God. Church, I believe the key to revival is when we, His ambassadors become willing to truly let go of self and trust Him without limits. True revival is still the heart of the Father and it is coming! The measure in which our generation will see it, is in the measure of how far we are willing to allow the Spirit, the Word and the Presence of God to change us and transform us (by the way - that is revival)!
More than historical information, Jacob’s wrestling match is a visual for us as the Body of Christ to learn from. How is it that when Jacob started this whole journey, God gave him a dream from heaven and he came out of it saying “surely God was in this place and I did not know it” and when he finished the journey he came out saying “I came face to face with God and I lived?"
Could it be that pressed between two encounters, a dream and a wrestling match, Jacob finally came to THE END OF HIMSELF?
I THINK I WILL LET YOU DECIDE!!!
Until next time may God richly bless you beyond your wildest imagination.