Page 3 - April 2023 - Truth & Tidings
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t was night, and he was all alone. Jacob  name was Israel (“God fights”), and we
            couldn’t stop thinking about Esau and  are thankfully told how to interpret it:
        Ithe horde of men with him. He hoped  “You have fought with God …  and have
        his over-the-top generosity would pacify  prevailed” (v28). How did the 97-year-old
        his brother’s anger, for a meeting with him  patriarch prevail? Certainly not by best-
        was imminent. However, it wasn’t Esau he  ing his divine opponent, who was able to
        needed to worry about. Out of nowhere  disable him quite easily. Hosea 12:4 says
        a total stranger slammed into Jacob and  Jacob “wept and begged for his favor,”
        threw him to the ground. And so began the  hardly language for one who overpowered
        wrestling match that lasted all night long,  his rival. Jacob prevailed in obtaining this
        emblematic of Jacob’s entire existence. He  blessing, not by clever maneuvering but
        rightly concluded that his opponent was  by holding fast to the Lord. Yet, he was not
        divine (Gen 32:30) and that he had been   always called by his new name from this
        fighting Him, not just for a night but for   point on. Unlike Abraham and Sarah, who,
        a lifetime.                          once given their new names, were never re-
          But the fighting needed to end, so the   ferred to by their old ones, Jacob was called
        Lord did something both painful and ulti-  both Jacob and Israel. Prevailing with God
        mately beneficial to Jacob. Striking his hip   was only potential, whereas crafty schem-
                                             ing was always a sad possibility.
        He left Jacob helpless; his only option was
        to cling, and he wouldn’t let go. However,   The lessons from fight night in Peniel
        the dawn was breaking, which meant that   are plentiful, not the least of which is that,
        Jacob’s life was in danger – and not because   like Jacob with a new name, we have been
        of his injury. To see his opponent in the full   given a new nature. His old name wasn’t
        light of day meant certain death. Yet Jacob   removed, and neither has God removed
        took the risk with these words, “I will not   our old nature. The struggle between being
        let you go … unless you bless me” (v26).    Jacob or Israel would always afflict him,
        Jacob had made a career out of manipulat-  as does our struggle between yielding to
        ing blessings from others, whether from   the flesh or to the Spirit. And as the Lord
        his father Isaac, his brother Esau or his   initiated the fight with Jacob, so will He
        father-in-law Laban. But for the first time   often invade the lives of His people with
                                             trials that leave us wrestling with His will
        in his life, he was forced to seek blessing   and Word. The experiences can often be
        from its proper source – God Himself. And   painful, just like Jacob’s. But if they scrape
        he received it, not by fighting the Lord but   away our self-sufficiency and drive us to
        by clinging to Him.                  cling to the Lord in dependence for all we
          The blessing came in the form of a new   need, they will be worth it. For it is, ironi-
        name. He had lived up to his name Jacob   cally, by giving up and clinging to Him that
        (“supplanter”),  seizing  from  others  by   we truly prevail and secure His blessing.
        trickery whatever he desired. His new   When we wave the white flag of surrender
        ¹ Bible quotations in this article are from the NET.  to the Lord, we win.

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