Preaching, Teaching, and Notes

Jacob’s Wrestling with the Lord

Genesis 32:24 “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”

Jacob was coming home to Canaan. He had been told of God:

Genesis 31:13 “I am the God of Beth-el, where thou anointest the pillar, and where thou vowest a vow unto Me: now, arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.”

So he was coming home, with his wives, sons and substance………But also with a guilty conscience. He had tricked his father into giving him……the younger son, the blessing, instead of Esau.

God had wanted him to have it, but Jacob and his mother schemed to get it; instead of waiting for God’s way.

Now he was coming back into the land, and Esau, his brother, would surely hear of it, and seek to kill him, as he had often promised he would. (Genesis 27:41)

What could he do? When he first set foot into the land again, angels met him.

Most believe these “hosts of angels”, were positioned one in the back of his family, and one before.

(The Lord does that to us, as well. We may not see them, but:

Psalm 34:7 “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.”)

Genesis 32:1-2 “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.

And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s hosts: and he called the name of the place Mahanaim.”

Jacob took this as a sign that God would protect him, and so sent word to Esau that he was back in the land.

“…thy servant Jacob…I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.” (Genesis 32:4-5)

Perhaps time had softened his hate.

But then he got word that Esau was coming to meet him—that wasn’t bad—but with four hundred men! (Genesis 32:6)

That sounded like an army; and Jacob was fearful…very fearful.

(I use the term fearful, because fear strikes at the heart of every person. You may be scared in a moment…jump in panic; but fear is often an attack against the Word of God, as it was here.)

Jacob became so fearful, he began to rely upon his schemes again.

First, he divided the people into two bands. If Esau would destroy the first, maybe he will spare the next.

Then, he prayed. (Genesis 32:9-12)

This should have been first…but Jacob schemes before he trusts, yet God is merciful. The Lord told him to come back to the land, would He desert him?

Jacob prays to God on the basis of the covenant God made with Abraham, and his Seed.(Christ)

(So, too, we pray on the basis of the covenant God made with Christ, for us)

Jacob reminds God of what He said to do, of His own Word, which is what we should do. Jacob tells Him he has obeyed.

He tells God, he is not worthy of the least of His mercies and of the goodness God has already shown him.

Then he prays for deliverance, reminding the Lord of His promise where his children are concerned.

This was a wonderful prayer, but it seems as though Jacob’s fears were not removed, for….

he started to think….hmmm….I can send a present to Esau. Maybe that will appease him.

So off he goes, scheming. He starts picking out this and that; sending it on to Esau with shepherds, with the words: “A present….Jacob is behind us, but here is a present for my lord Esau”. (Very flattering; at least Jacob hopes so)

Then he sends his family over the brook; so that there would be that between Esau and them.

He was alone then, on this side of the brook.

And then…..

Genesis 32:24 “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”

We are not shown how this “man” came, or what they said to each other for most of the night.

Those are things between the Lord and Jacob; for this “Man” was a theophanic manifestation of the Son of God.

Genesis 32:25-26 “And when He saw that He prevailed not against him, He touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as He wrestled with him.

And He said, Let me go, for the day breaketh.

And he said, I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.”

But why did the Lord wrestle with Jacob all night? Why didn’t He just touch him right away?

Because He wanted to bring Jacob to a point of recognized weakness. To a place where Jacob’s strength and schemes were seen as the Lord sees them: useless.

And this takes time.

And Jacob kept wrestling, and kept wrestling, to gain the victory.

(But, thankfully, he was not the one who gained the victory.)

When it was almost sunrise, the Lord touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh; and he fell! But Jacob kept clinging to the Lord…he did not let Him go.

Yet he still did not say anything, till the Lord said, “Let me go…”.

Here was the real test:

At the end of a battle, we might be willing for it to be over; but Jacob knew Who the “Man” was.

By now Jacob knew if he was to get what he needed for himself and for the future, he must get the Lord’s blessing.

(And do we know this for ourselves? “It is not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” [Zechariah 4:6]. It is often not until we know our own powerlessness, that we seek to hang on to the Lord, for His blessing…..but this takes time.)

Jacob, still clinging, says, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.”

Genesis 32:27-28 “And He said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

And He said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Isra-el: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”

Jacob (supplanter, contender) who had schemed and planned; was to become Isra-el (God commands or prevails).

Jacob was to be a prince or a delegated authority of God’s Name,……but only in his recognized weakness.

(Paul wrote of the same thing: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Isra-el was to be his new name. (When the first part of a name is combined with “El” or God, then the doer in the name is always God. [Daniel…God judgeth; Gabriel…God is my strength, etc.])

So now Jacob was to stop scheming; and let God command or prevail in him and for him.

This did not always happen: read Jacob/Israel’s life and you will see from now on, the two names still apply.

But God had brought him into a new way of life, and God would prevail.

It is natural for us to work out, for ourselves, the plans of our lives. We often feel very capable to do so: God gave us a brain…right?

But God, in patience and longsuffering, deals with us (wrestles?) to bring us to the place where we are clinging to Him, alone.

Esau came (with the four hundred men) but when he saw Jacob, he ran and hugged and kissed him! (Genesis 33:4)

When God prevails in us;……He will prevail for us. His Word is ever true…we need to claim it.

His power is never limited.

His blessings are only waiting for us to cling to Him.

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