Jacob’s first “experience” with God was in a dream. He was running from the brother whom he had wronged, afraid for his life. And yet, God met him where he was. He revealed to Jacob His power, and gave him promises should he return someday to the land of his ancestors. God meets us where we are. Even when we are running from our past, He gives us His words as a promise if we should return.
Jacob dreamed once again, after he had lived with Laban. He married Laban’s daughters, worked for him, and now God asked Jacob to leave Laban, and return to his own people. This dream was God reminding Jacob of the promises that He made to Jacob and that Jacob had made to Him when fleeing from Esau.
What promises has God made to you? What vows have you made to Him? Has God ever reminded you of His promises? Has He reminded you of your promises to Him? Could it be that He is reminding you now? Today?
In Genesis chapter 32, Jacob once again sees angels, and he names the place Mahanaim meaning “two camps.” Despite the Lord’s encouragement, Jacob is still afraid. He divides his possessions and family into two camps. One will go out in front of the other in case Esau and his men attack, then he will be able to save himself and his favorites. I wonder if part of Jacob is afraid to face his sin? Afraid to look Esau in the face and own up to his trespass against his brother?
Have you ever had to face a family member or friend whom you have wronged? Is there someone you need to face today?
9And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:
10I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
11Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.
12And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.
This is a much more humble Jacob. Suddenly, this is all about God and not all about him. First of all he says, “I want to remind you that I’m only here, because I’m being obedient to you. And you said that it would be well with me.” He reminded God of His promise towards Jacob. But now, the gratitude and thanksgiving of Jacob are astounding. He recognizes that he is unworthy of God’s blessing. Up until this point, Jacob is consistently taking matters into his own hands, even trying to influence nature with the rods and the goats, but now he is in a situation that only God can deliver him from. And with great humility, he makes his request, one that he doesn’t deserve; safety from his brother. He reminds God of His promise, essentially saying, “You can’t fulfill this promise in me, if I’m dead!” Essentially he’s like a child saying to his Father, “You said!”
What has God promised you either in dreams or in His Word? Are you on the first part of the journey as when Jacob was running from what God called him to do? Or has God given His second call, and now it is time to move on? Perhaps you are at Mahanaim where you are of two minds thinking, “Should I go forward and do what God has asked?” or are you afraid because of your past? Do you feel unworthy of His promises?
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
25And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
26And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
27And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
28And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
29And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
30And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
31And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.
And Jacob was left alone. What happens when we are left alone? When there is no one else to run to? No one else to fix our problems? Jacob wrestled with God. He comes to the end of Jacob and makes demand on God to meet him…alone and empty. Now his stubbornness works for him, because he will not let go until he receives a blessing. Now it is God Who gives the Pillar-Builder a reminder. As a sign of this blessing, God breaks the sinew in his thigh. Bible scholars and scientists alike say that this sinew spoken of in this scripture is the toughest sinew in the human body. A war horse couldn’t break this sinew. But God broke Jacob at his toughest point; his stubbornness, his self-sufficiency, his guilt and now his feelings of unworthiness.
This man who wrestled with his brother even in the womb, fighting to come into this world first; who tricked his brother out of his birthright; who deceived a blessing out of his father; who fought with Laban over his wages; has now fought with God over His blessing. And now, he has come to the end of himself. and he is broken.
Are you broken before God? Are you at the end of yourself, and tired of struggling…alone? Dare to wrestle with God, dear reader. You will never be the same…it was then that Jacob was renamed from “supplanter” or “deceiver” to Israel or “struggle”. God sets Jacob’s very name as a monument to remember a moment with Him. A moment that would change Jacob forever. Will you wrestle with God and have your destiny made sure?