"And the Lord said to Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee." ~Genesis 31:3
God told Jacob to go back home. The place he had left 20 years before. The place that he had hidden away deep in his heart. His brother Esau promised to kill him if he ever returned. But God told him to go. So Jacob put his confidence in God, gathered his family and everything that he owned, and he headed home.
After the many struggles he had with his father-in-law, Laban, leaving may have seemed like a good idea.
Until the night before he would meet with his brother, the one he had stolen every good thing from. And now he was terrified. Earlier that day Jacob saw an army of angels that God sent to accompany him. Even so, he was still afraid and begged God for protection. While everyone else slept, a man came and began to wrestle with Jacob. Literally wrestle him. Could this be Esau, or one of his men who had come to kill him? They wrestled for hours, and at some point during the longest wrestling match in history, Jacob realized that he was not wrestling a man but was wrestling with the Almighty God! Jacob stopped fighting and started clinging. He refused to let go of God unless he received a blessing.
It was here...
Here is the part of the story where everything changed. Jacob stopped striving, he tapped out, he surrendered to God completely! Then God asked, “What is your name?” This took Jacob back to the beginning, to where the sin started. This was the same question that his earthly father, Issac, had asked him, only that time Jacob lied. This time he answered honestly. It was here that God blessed Jacob and changed his name to Israel, the prince of God.
As the sun rose and Jacob saw Esau coming towards him, he was no longer afraid. Instead, he was filled with humility. Israel, prince of God, bowed over and over as he limped to get to Esau. He called Esau, Master, and he called himself, Servant. I wonder if Esau was filled with compassion when he saw his crippled brother bowing down and struggling to walk? Was it here that God changed Esau's warrior heart? Maybe God's painful wounding was actually his protection? Jacob finally fought FOR his brother and together they began to embrace peace!
God's miraculous wrestling match with Jacob modeled every “wrestling” in Jacob’s life. He had wrestled against just about every person he had come in contact with. He wrestled over things like women, possessions and money. He was use to winning. So, this time God touched him and pulled his hip out of joint. That wound had so much significance and would be with Jacob, as a reminder, for the rest of his life.
It was never just Jacob against people, but it was always Jacob against God. The people were instruments that God used to bring about his change. All of his past struggles were for God’s glory, and through them, he was supposed to learn about humility, and character, and holiness. All along, God was working to mold Jacob, reveal his pride, and bring him to complete surrender.
I find it interesting that God often brings us back to places of struggle and past hurts. Could it be, just like Jacob, it’s to produce holiness in us? To complete the lesson? That, in His sovereignty, He wants to reveal Himself and His miraculous works to us? What if it's impossible to fulfill His calling on our life until we stop fighting against others and we are conquered by God, our Victor? What a beautiful place of surrender!
Like Jacob learned, our focus is to be on God. God, who allows our trial. God, who is our defender and protector. God, who desires that we live out his purpose and not our own. God, the patient teacher who gives experiential lessons.
The Bible is clear that our battles belong to Him. It certainly looks that way with Jacob. It certainly looks that way in every single Biblical story. The battles are always God’s. The purpose is for us to die to the ugliness of self and to SEE GOD. That we would KNOW Him. I think that’s what it’s always about!
Romans 11:36 says,
“For of him, and through him, and to him are ALL things: to whom be glory for ever. amen.”
Oh, that we all might stop wrestling with other humans and instead, focus on, submit and cling to our God.
Open my eyes to see You LORD,
Founder of A Right Heart Ministries