Scripture Reading: Genesis 34:1-35:29 / Matthew 12:46-13:17 / Psalm 10:1-11
Jacob’s entire life was one of struggle as he came out of the womb struggling, laying hold of Esau’s heel. Life wasn’t easy for Jacob. He longed his father’s attention while he lived in the shadow of his favored brother. Everything came to a head when he deceived his father into blessing him and then Jacob ran.
Jacob traveled to Haran; fell in love with Rachel; worked 7 years in order to marry her; was deceived by Rachel’s father, Laban, into marrying Rachel’s sister, Leah. He worked another 7 years for Rachel and after a series of barrenness, fertile wombs, discord, competition, jealousy, favoritism and deceit, Jacob secretly left and returned to Canaan with his wives, children and all his possessions.
It was when Jacob was alone; having done everything that he could to secure his own safety, that God came to him. Jacob was at a place where he was completely helpless and desperate. Jacob spent most of his adult life wrestling with people – Esau, Isaac, Laban and even his own wives. Now God wrestles with him, “So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” (Genesis 32:24)
Jacob was standing between his past struggle with Laban and his impending struggle with Esau. Jacob needed to realize his real struggle was with God so God initiates the conflict and wrestles with Jacob. God was about to bring Jacob to the end of himself and to a complete submission to God’s leadership in his life. God touched and dislocated his thigh; the largest and strongest muscle in his body. Jacob was crippled at the point of his greatest strength and all he could do was hang on.
The angel requested to be released from Jacob’s grasp but he refused to let go. Jacob can’t fight anymore but he can hold on. Jacob requests a blessing…he always wants a blessing but this one was different. He needed God’s blessing and it would not be obtained until he clung to God in desperation and helplessness, not manipulation. “The Lord cannot fully bless a man until he has first conquered him.” A.W. Tozer
Jacob didn’t know he was wrestling with God…we often don’t realize it either. After an intense and extensive struggle, Jacob was asked, “What is your name?” (vs.27) When his father Isaac asked him that question, he lied and said he was Esau. Now 20 years later, he confesses and admits the truth, “Jacob”…supplanter, deceiver, cheater, heel-grabber. Jacob truly lived up to his name but when he confessed who he really was, God changed him into what he needed to be…”Israel”.
What is your name? Until we can say, “My name is bitterness”, we can’t be healed… or greed or deception or liar or unfaithfulness. Whenever we are ready to come clean, God can’t make us clean and we will remain as we are. Jacob arose the next morning halting on his thigh. God gave him a new blessing, a new nature, a new name and a new walk all because of a…Crisis in the Night.