Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Genesis, Chapters 32-34 … To study these chapters, go to this link -
Genesis 32: 22-28: … [Jacob Becomes Israel] … 22 That night [as Jacob was waiting in fear for the arrival of his brother Esau, whom he assumed hated him] Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and A MAN wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When THE MAN saw that He could not overpower him, He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with THE MAN. 26 Then THE MAN said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 THE MAN asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then THE MAN said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then He blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
My Journal for Today: There is much which could be discussed in the chapters which I was led to read today in Chapters 32-34 of Genesis in my chronological reading plan. However, the section in Chapter 32, which I’ve copied above (i.e., Verses 22-30), has always spoken to me personally.
First of all, we remember that God’s providence had allowed for Jacob’s name to be “Jacob,” which means schemer or conniver; and here, at this moment in Jacob’s life (in Chapter 32 of Genesis) we read of Jacob fearing for his and his family’s life as Esau approached them with 400 men. And here was Jacob, again coming up with a bribing/conniving scheme to appease the anger he assumed Esau would have for having stolen Esau’s birthright. And in the midst of all this intrigue, comes “A Man” Who wrestles with Jacob; and Jacob stays in this battle, somehow knowing that he is wrestling with God Himself.
Most Bible scholars interpret that this very special “Wrestler” was a Theophany, .. a human, pre-incarnate appearance of The Messiah, to man – in this case, Jacob, whom God knew was more than the scheming conniver who had “wrestled” the birthright away from Esau by conning his father, Isaac. And so, after their wrestling match, The Lord, helped Jacob to be transformed … from one who would selfishly think of himself to one who would struggle with God for God’s purpose and direction in life. And to characterize this transformation, seeing that Jacob was serious about wanting God’s blessing, God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel,” which, in Hebrew, means, “one who struggles with God.” And what more perfect name could have been given to the man whose bones would later be carried out of Egypt to the promised land by God’s chosen people, as the nation “Israel,” was freed from captivity. And we know how much “Israel” then struggled with God and still does even these millennia later; and so, the name God gave ISRAEL was perfect to describe His child Jacob and His later children, the Hebrew nation, Israel.
But my personal application comes from this focus passage today because I was also one who wrestled with God for many years of my life, denying who I really was and rejecting God’s desire to transform me into a man who could follow Him and glorify Him as my Lord. And all those years my name was “William,” which has a Germanic background meaning, “helmeted warrior.” And in my youth I had become a warrior for selfishness. But in my middle years, as was Jacob when he wrestled with God, I had a breakdown wrestling match with God, Who used a rather bizarre set of circumstances, as He did with Jacob and much later, the Apostle Paul, to knock me off my high horse and to give me sight from my spiritual blindness, allowing me to see God for Whom He is, … my LORD and Savior.
No, I didn’t wrestle with the Angel of the Lord; but I had a personal, spiritual battle which allowed me to take off the helmet of selfishness in my life and put on a new helmet of salvation so that my name WILLIAM could take on a new character name which honored God rather than dishonored Him. I was transformed (and am still being transformed) from a warrior for Satan into a warrior for The Savior.
So, I identify strongly with what Jacob and what he went through to become “Israel;” and if you are one who struggles to follow God, sometimes having to struggle with self and a Savior Who wants to transform you into His image, stick in there. Keeping fighting the good fight, knowing that the struggle against selfishness and the battle for God’s blessing of righteousness is worth it. God wants us to struggle against self and to surrender to His transforming grace, even if we become wounded, as did Jacob. Any struggle which moves us into a surrendered discipleship role to our Lord and Savior, Jesus, is well worth the wrestling match.
So, as I often symbolize this struggle, let me put this here - <’KOKO>< - which means, “Keep On Keeping On in Christ.” Keep wrestling for God’s blessing, my friend!
My Prayer Today: … Lord, I know I often struggle to gain Your grace; and forgive me if my struggle against my selfishness dishonors You; but I will keep fighting self to be like You; and I pray your blessings upon my struggles. Amen