Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Thought for Tuesday 4/23/13

“Jacob was left alone, and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.  And when the Man saw that He did not prevail against Jacob, He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him … and the Man said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed’.”  Genesis 32:24-25, 28 NKJV

This passage is difficult to grasp for several reasons; the dominants ones being the identity of the “Man”, and Jacob’s having “prevailed” in his struggle “with God”.  In this moment, however, Jacob is fleeing from his brother Esau who had previously vowed to kill Jacob because Jacob had deceitfully taken the blessing from their father Isaac, the blessing which would have normally been reserved for the elder brother (Isaac’s eyesight had begun to fail, so Jacob and his mother worked to deceive Isaac).  It may sound sinister, but in the grand scheme we must remember that in a weak moment Esau had previously surrendered his birth right to Jacob in exchange for a bowl of stew!

The lesson I take from this passage is the name given to Jacob in his refusal to stop wrestling (struggling) with the “Man”.  The very nature of what would become the nation of God’s “chosen” means “to struggle with God”.  It speaks to our human nature when we struggle with our faith.  On the surface, Jacob’s story sounds completely ridiculous – after all, who can struggle with God even with a bad hip and prevail??  Yet it is not necessarily that Jacob prevailed; it is that Jacob refused to stop struggling even when requested to do so.  Jacob wanted the blessing; in fact Jacob needed the blessing not simply to prevail in that moment but to endure the moments to come when the meeting with Esau was imminent and a blessed nation would be conceived!

Sooner or later we will come face-to-face with those intent on doing us harm in some way, and it is a struggle to maintain our connection with our Lord in those moments when our human side struggles with our spiritual self in doing what we prefer to do not always doing what must be done.  Our nature is such that we will constantly struggle with our Lord … and our Lord’s nature is such that He will never give up on us especially as we prove to Him that we would much prefer to struggle with Him than walk away from Him!  We will “prevail” by the Lord’s grace and be blessed – as He blessed Jacob – to serve His purposes and His people.


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