Read: Genesis 32:22-32
As we continue the narrative of God’s chosen people that began when God chose Abram out of the scattering of humanity from the Tower of Babel, we get to this really important story. Jacob is the son of Isaac, who was Abraham and Sarah’s only son and the son God promised them to progress the covenant God made with Abraham. Jacob, the son of Isaac, was ambitious and ambitious to a fault at that. He took advantage of his older brother’s, Ishmael, weakness and bartered from him his birthright and then tricked his blinded father into giving him the birthright rather than Ishmael, the first born. All of this trickery did not sit well with Isaac or Ishmael who ultimately ran him off and attempted to hunt him down. In this part of the story we read Jacob is on his way to meet his brother to try and make amends. So he sends his family and possessions as gifts ahead of him to see if that will ease the temper of his brother. Now that he is alone he wrestles with this mysterious figure, who we come to know as God, and will not let go, even though he is injured, until the mysterious figure blesses him. So he is blessed by being given a new name, just as had happen to his grandfather, with a new meaning: one who has wrestled with humans and God and has overcome.
As we will see with the development of the people of God, this is ultimately the name given to that very people: Israel. This is key to how we should understand the people of God then and as the church continues as God’s people now. We have always been a people that wrestles with humans and God. The overcoming that Jacob accomplished with God is not your typical overcoming. It is not one of desiring victory and dominion, it is one of desperation and humility. It is not letting go of God until we have received his blessing and once we do we walk forward in God’s blessing and not our own pride. This will be a reality that God’s people will continue to struggle with from then till now, walking in God’s blessing rather in our own strength and pride.
Loving Father, we are grateful that you are a God that is willing to struggle with us. Help is to not let go of you and to be desperate for you to bless our lives and when you do help us to continue to rely on you. We know that you have already overcome death and the world so may we rest in your power and victory rather than toil in our pride to achieve what you have already achieved. Amen.
- What is one thing that stood out to you in this passage?
- What do you think about the person of Jacob? Do you think he should have received this blessing?
- How might this wrestling and blessing be significant in that he was on his way to make amends with his brother?
- Imagine the exhaustion if you wrestled all night with someone. When was there a time in your life that you felt so exhausted by it all that you felt you had no where else to turn but to God?
- Why is it so hard for us to rest in God’s blessing and instead be tempted by our own pride?
- What do you think a life looks like that is simply walking in the blessing of God rather than trying to accomplish it all in our own strength and pride?