“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.'” (Genesis 32:28)
After pretending to be his older brother Esau, stealing his birthright and his blessing, and spending 21 years estranged from his family, Jacob finally decides to return home and face Esau once again.
On his way home, before he meets with Esau, Jacob wrestles with God. At first, Jacob doesn’t even really know it’s God, but he is grabbed by something. Many scholars believe this was an encounter with the pre-incarnate Jesus.
The two of them wrestle until daybreak. At this point, Jacob is suffering from a broken hip. Then the Man demands for Jacob to let Him go. But Jacob replies, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26).
Jacob is determined. The same tenacity that made him a schemer, a con man, and a deceiver is now working for him because he has it focused on the right ambition.
The Man asks Jacob his name. Remember, Jacob had been blessed by Isaac through pretending to be Esau. But he is no longer trying to be blessed through deception. He tells the Man his name, and that’s when God blesses him and gives him a new name.
God gives him the name Israel, which means triumphant with God. Jacob doesn’t just get a new name — he gets a new identity.
Our culture plays a huge role in defining our view of success, self-worth, and beauty, but God has a different view. You may think you have to be someone you’re not in order to get where you want to go.
The truth is, God can only bless who you really are, not who you pretend to be.
You will never get what you’re after if you’re always trying to get it by being someone or something you’re not. God has a destiny unique to you. Don’t settle for someone else’s blessings when God wants to give you your own.
~ Thomas Joel Trevino