Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; Then Jacob prayed, "O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ Genesis 32:7,9
sometimes i think some of our prayers are reminders to OURSELVES of who God is and His faithfulness and His promises. We are speaking to our soul and stirring our faith afresh to stretch out and trust in God.
Jacob was terrified, he was greatly afraid.
and so he prayed.
and he remembered the promise of God.
Jacob is about to go into new territory – reconciliation with his brother, the brother he cheated and deceived, the brother whom he feared. He knew the promises of God and what God had told him, but there were obstacles and circumstances that shouted failure and destruction. It would take a miracle in Esau’s heart for there to be change. Just as a miracle had occurred in Jacob’s heart… Jacob didn’t know how Esau would respond. He didn’t have the opportunity to facebook stalk him to see what his reaction to the news of his returning was… He couldn’t text his mates back home or anything like that. Returning home at the command of the Lord was a step of faith and trust.
Jacob prays honestly and humbly before God.
But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. (Genesis 33:4)
God answers Jacob’s prayer for help beyond what Jacob could have been imagining. Jacob planned to soften Esau’s desire for revenge by having him meet his family and receive gifts from him before they met face to face. Jacob hoped this would make Esau think twice before he killed his twin brother.
It had been 20 years since Jacob had cheated Esau out of their father’s blessing and God had changed both men and soften their hearts over those years. Jacob had expected anger and revenge but received forgiveness.
our job or our role in life is to trust God and step out in faith. God will work out the timing and other details. He will move obstacles and change peoples hearts. lets make prayer our first response when we feel greatly afraid and worried. We have the promises of God in the Word, in the Bible to remind us to not fear and stay strong. take ahold of the promise, pray and step out!
The Bible has over 7,000 promises from God to you – promises of success, confidence, health, prosperity, strength, wisdom and more. Why does God make these promises?
Because He wants you to learn to trust him.
When you set a goal, or face an obstacle, or like Jacob – have a life changing event before you – don’t focus on the problems, focus on the promises. Over and over and over again God promises in His Word, "I’ll be with you no matter where you go." God is always with you whether you feel it or not. Lets TRUST and BELEIVE those promises!
Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip. Genesis 32:24-32
this passage has been a pivotal passage for me in the past year.
the main part i identify with is that Jacob had an identity change during this encounter with God. he went from being jacob – meaning deciever – to Israel – meaning “struggles with God” – or God perseveres, contends. i love how the angel of the Lord asks jacob his name, asking him to identify who he really was at the heart level. it is after this confession that God REidentifies Israel.
note the last part of this passage – after the wrestling and the incredible name changing and life changing encounter Jacob limped away, forever marked and disabled by the wrestling. just as God touched Jacob and changed his physical walk, a real encounter with Jesus will change your spiritual walk for the rest of your life.
my heart resolves to NOT LET GO UNTIL YOU BLESS ME
God asks Jacob, "What is your name?" This is a very strange request because God obviously already knew Jacob’s name. We need to understand that in ancient cultures you were always named for your character, what you really were. Your name might be Tall or Short; or your name might be Brave or Lazy. You were given a name that labeled you. It wasn’t just something that sounded nice. It represented your character.
That’s a problem because Jacob means "deceiver, manipulator, liar." And Jacob lived up to his name! When Jacob says, "My name is Jacob," it is an act of confession. He’s admitting, "I am a manipulator."
Here’s the insight into this: We will never be able to change until we openly and honestly and authentically admit our sin, our weakness, our fault, our frailty, our character defects, confessing this to ourselves, to God, and to other people.
What do you need to admit about yourself?
We have to persevere through painful and difficult times, be present and actively wrestle with God instead of just tapping out and giving up. Are we going to cling to God and push through and ask the tough questions we have about our faith, or do we quit and give up? Will we have the courage to stay in the fight?
God’s not here to polish our name, He’s here to give us a new name. He’s not here to fix our identity, but to give us new identity. It’s not about us focusing on our life, but about forgetting our life. We need to be consumed by God.
God asked Jacob’s name, not because he doesn’t know. He wants Jacob to face who he is, to expose who he is. I am Jacob, who cheated his own brother, unworthy, etc… We have to come to God full-on, straight, completely open and honest.
God renames Jacob Israel. It means he fought with God, almost lost, but prevailed through grace.
So much of our fight is us trying to preserve our Jacob… when God wants us to surrender and accept His grace and become Israel.
That limp means you stand differently, not falsely confident in yourself and your strengths, but leaning on Christ and his love and confidence and grace.
The American philosophy is to make Jacob bigger and better. Instead, it’s about tearing our old selves down and becoming limping children of God who longs for heaven, celebrating in God and consumed in seeing the face of Jesus. The victory has already been won by Christ.
i must confess that some of the passages about jacob always bothered me. here is this man who becomes the leader of israel, who the whole nation is named after, who had amazing dreams and encounters with God, who is a great man of faith in the hall of fame… yet he is a scheming liar and a cheat! what was the spiritual meaning of this…?!?
and then it hit me.
BEFORE he wrestled with God and BEFORE he had his name changed YES he was a rat bag. BUT then he encountered God and was transformed and changed by God and his nature changed too. he changed from jacob the liar to israel, the leader.
he has a PRE story and a POST story.
God sees us with the post eyes – He sees us as He calls us and takes us on a process of transformation and growth. He doesn’t hold the past against us with all its sins and mistakes and flaws.
Behold, i am a new creation, the past is gone. i am forgiven and made new! thanks be to Jesus for His victory!
* The Essential 100 Challenge (E100) helps you get an overview of the Bible… without getting bogged down. The Plan guides you through 50 Old Testament passages and 50 New Testament passages — The Essential 100 — so you can see the big picture of God’s Word, and form a daily Bible reading habit in the process. E100 is an achievable way to have a "through the Bible" experience; it’s the Bible reading plan people love to complete.