So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.
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. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
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.”
Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. Genesis 32:24-29 NIV
1. The Confrontation Phase – When Jacob is at the forks of Jabbok he is preparing to meet with his brother Esau, whom he had wronged. He split up his belongings, servant, and family and prepared gifts, sending them ahead, hoping that Esau would spare him the retribution he had earned. He was in fear, and was preparing for his own destruction. In verse 24 it states that he was alone. And then there came a Man who began to wrestle with him.
God initiates the wrestling match. People like to say “I found the Lord” – He found you! John 6:44 says that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” God has already prepared a way for us! He initiates contact with us when we are looking to change into His image. When we stop in our tracks and say, “I’m going to stop making my own plans and just wait.” Be still. Be silent. When we stop our actions to self destruct, that’s when God shows up and begins to interact with us.
2. Internal Contesting – Have you ever “wrestled” with a thought, idea, or plan of action? The wrestling that we so often do with God is the world’s philosophy and way of doing things versus God’s way. God’s way vs. our way. What we want versus Love. When we look at verse 25 we see that the angel wrestling with Jacob wasn’t winning! We can be so steeped in what we want that it’s hard for God to get His message across to us. He won’t force you. He will wrestle with your spirit, pursue you, but not force you.
3. The Built-In Chastisement – In verse 25 the man/angel sees that he isn’t winning and touches Jacob’s hip so that it is injured as Jacob fights him.
God will let you have your way. He will let your actions and defiance of Him bring you pain, but it is pain with a purpose. This pain can stop the destruction that lies in wait for us. We just have to stop fighting. This is demonstrated over and over in the Bible – the pigpen was a painful place to be before the prodigal son returned to his father. The whale’s belly was a painful place to be before Jonah repented. A lot of times we change just because we are hurting so bad. The thing is, although God initiates the struggle, we are the ones who determine how long it lasts and how bad we are injured. He leaves it in our hands.
4. Intense Clinging Phase – In verse 25 Jacob realizes that it is almost daybreak. His time is growing short. His window of opportunity is growing smaller. How often do we let our opportunity for God to do something in us slip by because we are too busy fighting him to realize it? Jacob’s response is “I won’t let you go unless you bless me.” Jacob is just holding on to God, because he realizes he needs Him. You can know you need God, and not give up fighting Him and cling to Him. Once you stop fighting God, you have to embrace Him. You have to acknowledge your need for Him and then hold tight to Him.
5. The Request – Jacob asked for blessing. In this act, he not only acknowledged his need for God, but His Lordship. He yielded to Him, and submitted to His authority. He acknowledged that God was in charge and was superior. In his submission he asked for blessing. People’s lives change when they ask for God’s blessing. (1 Chronicles 4:10) When Jabez cried out to God and asked for blessing, God granted it to him. (Joshua 2:12-14) When Rahab asked for mercy and blessing the men of God gave it to her. (Mark 10:46-52) When Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus for mercy and healing he recieved his sight. Jeremiah 33:3 promises “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” When we are in a place of submission and brokenness before God and we cry out to Him He WILL answer that call.
6. Identifying Yourself – In verse 27 the reply to this request is “What is your name?” And he says “Jacob.”
In Hebrew the name Jacob means “supplanter” “one who grasps at the heel”. The root of his name comes from the Hebrew word for “to follow” and can also mean “to cheat.” Jacob identified who he was to God. He admitted his name. He admitted that he was the trickster, the cheater, one who had robbed his very brother. Repentance starts when you ADMIT what you have done wrong. When we confess our guilt to God, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us. 1 John 1:9 -I f we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
7. Transformation – In verse 28 Jacob is told “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel…”
When we have done all these things, then God gives us a new name. He gives us a new identity, one working WITH God. Confess out of your mouth that you’re a new person and believe it. GOD defines your identity. Find the word and speak it until God in you outweighs your flesh. This is why God is willing to wrestle with us – it brings change.