Genesis 32:24-26 (NKJV) Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks." But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!"
I think that everyone of us has a season where we actually end up wrestling with God over the direction of our lives.
Speaking for myself, this has been on ongoing event of God bringing me into alignment with His perfect will.
To be honest, for the most part, I don’t like it. I don’t like change and I often struggle with God to fight for control of my life and ministry.
The sad part is this, the older we get – the harder it is to change. What do they say, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
When I was younger – it seemed a lot easier and I seemed more pliable. Ugh! I hate this reality about myself.
People say that they want change. Just look on the internet and look at all the self help books that are for sale.
But the great tragedy of life is that sometimes we don’t want to change for the better.
In Genesis 32 we see the process that God uses in changing Jacob. God is helping him become a different kind of person – a better person.
This event in Jacob’s life was a turning point in Jacob’s life and serves as an example of God can change us also.
Keep in mind that Jacob was kind of a shifty sort of fellow. If you recall, in Genesis 27 that he tricked his father into giving him the blessing that was intended for his older brother Esau.
Did you know that Jacob’s name means cheater or scammer? He even ended up scamming his uncle Laban to gain more sheep for his own flock.
Before Jacob could move on – God needed to deal with him and bring some alignment into his life. Thus the night of wrestling with God.
Jacob ended up wresting with God all night long – till the break of day.
It was such a transforming experience that it literally changed Jacob into the man after God’s own heart.
In this passage – there is a 4 step process of change.
1. The first step is CRISIS
Our text says: “Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.”
This was no ordinary man for later on we see that Jacob says, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.
Some will say that he wrestled with an angel and others will say that it was pre manifestation of Jesus himself. Either way – it was some divine being.
Jacob found himself in a real fix – he had gotten himself involved in a wrestling match with a heavenly being. He was having a real struggle – and worst of all he came to realize that he was in a no-win situation.
Here’s a fact: God often uses a crisis to get out attention. Have you ever got yourself into a fix that you couldn’t get out of? I know I have.
Psalm 86:7 (NKJV) In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me.
Just like a mother eagle that stirs the nest of her young to encourage them to fly – so God will at times stir your nest so you can be everything God wants you to be.
2. The second step is COMMITMENT
Look at what Jacob said – “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Jacob was committed – He was persistent – he stayed with the situation until he received a blessing.
He was in a situation that he didn’t like – it was frustrating – it was getting him down – he was tired – but he said, “I am 100 % committed to staying with the situation until God blessed me.”
3. The third step is CONFESSION
After Jacob tells the wrestler he was not going to let go until he received a blessing – the wrestler said to Jacob: “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”
What was the purpose of that question? I think it was to get Jacob to acknowledge his character by stating his name – his name meant “cheater” or “schemer.”
Jacob had a long history of cheating scheming. He had cheated his brother Esau. He had lied to his father and deceived him. He also deceived his uncle Laban.
So, the question was asked: “What is your name? What are you really like? Who are you really?”
Jacob answered, “My name is Jacob.” By saying his name Jacob admitted, “I’m a cheater. I’m a schemer.” He admitted his weaknesses because he was honest. When he identified himself as “Jacob,” he was admitting his character flaws.
This is an important process in God changing us, because we never change until we honestly face and admit our faults and sins and weaknesses and mistakes.
God will no to to work on our problem until we first admit that we’ve got a problem. We need to say, “Lord, I’m a mess. I’ve got a problem and I admit it.” It’s at that point that God can go to work.
4. The fourth step is COOPERATION.
After Jacob confessed to God – God said: “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”
Jacob did not argue with God about the name change. After had a personal encounter with God he knew his life would not longer be the same. God changed Jacob from a cheater and schemer to an
Israel – a “Prince of God.”
God saw all of Jacob’s weaknesses and faults – but He also saw Jacob’s potential.
God always knows how to bring out the best in a person’s life. He knows how to do it better than we do.
It’s interesting that at the end of the wrestling match that God put his hip out of place (32:24-31). He would forever have a limp that would remind him of the night that God wrestled with Jacob.
I was thinking the other day of all the scars I have on my body – believe me, there are plenty as I was a very active kid.
But those scars remind me of the bad decisions I have made in life and that God has spared me over and over.
So, if you find yourself wrestling with God today – understand that you will not win until you surrender to Him and that He alone knows what is best for you and your life.
Moving forward – with a limp.