Wrestling with God
June 30-July 1, 2018
Last week in our study, Jacob he had to leave his mother whom he very much loved. He had to leave his father whom he had deceived, and he left his brother who wanted to kill him. Because of Rebekah's, his mother's influence over the dad, Isaac, she convinced him that he needed a wife and he needed to leave to go get that wife some 500 miles away to her relatives back in Aram. Isaac called him and said go to your uncle Laban and find this wife. He was on the run because all around him, he created heartbreaking conflict. All his relationships were broken. Now right there, that gets our attention. It's a sad sad commentary when a person looks around their life and all of their relationships are broken.
On the way, he has this encounter. This is what we were looking at last week, that he has this encounter with God. He has this dream where he sees this ladder or stairway that extended from earth to heaven, and angels were ascending and descending. This is the famous Jacob's ladder vision. God calls out to him from it and gives to him the blessings of Abraham and to Isaac and now given to him. He wakes up and he says, "Surely, the Lord is in this place and I didn't know it. How awesome in this place. This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven." He named that place Bethel or house of God and it will play significantly into the story that placed us as we roll forward through the books and chapters to come.
He arrives in Aram, 500-mile journey and he comes upon a shepherdess woman, and her name is Rachel. He finds out that in fact, her father is Laban. He falls in love with Rachel. He agreed to work for seven years to take her hand in marriage because he had no dowry. Now a lot of people when they look at the story, they see some poetic justice here when Jacob meets Laban. Yes, the heel snaps. You remember that the name Jacob means heel snatcher. When he came forth, when he was being born, he had a hold of his brother's heel, there were twins. They said, "Oh, look at that, isn't that cute? What are we going to name him? Let's name him heel snatcher." Which is real cute when he's a baby but it's not so cute when he grows up and he lives like a heel snatcher, supplanter person who deceives and trips other people, so many people see poetic justice here.
Jacob meets Laban. If you know anything about Laban, you know he's met his match. The heel snatcher meets the manipulator. After Jacob worked seven years for Rachel, Laban the uncle that'd be Rachel's father, he did some serious conniving on his own. On the day of the wedding, the day of the wedding in which he was to marry Rachel, Laban put his daughter Leah in Jacobs tent instead of Rachel. Lo and behold, when he wakes up that's not Rachel and he's not happy. Then the uncle says, "Well, I couldn't let the younger one marry first. We should let the older one marry first." He connived him and he manipulated him. He had to work another seven years in order to get Rachel, the one he truly loved.
Then in another turnabout of manipulation, Jacob agrees to work for several more years, but for his wages, he wants all of the goats of the flock that are spotted or speckled and all the lambs that are black. Then he proceeds to create a breeding program by which most of the goats are born spotted and speckled and the lambs born black. Thus, he ended up with most of what Laban had. That's when we come to Genesis 22. 20 years have passed and Gods' finally spoke to Jacob and told him to go back to the land of his father's. Back to the land that he had promised them, the land of Canaan and that God would be with him.
But there's a problem, a rather big problem. That is his brother Esau. If you remember when he ran from home 20 years before it was because his brother wanted to kill him, and Rebecca the mother said, "When his temper cools, I will send word to you." 20 years have passed and he received no word from his mother. He sends some servants to Esau announcing that he is arriving, that he is on the way. The servants come back to him and they say Esau is now coming out to meet you and he has 400 men with him. Jacob interprets this as a sign of great danger. 400 men is not exactly what you can call a welcoming party, 400 men is an army.
He divides his company into two groups. He's got quite an entourage with him. Now he divides into two groups, if one is attacked, then the other can flee. Then he sends gifts. He's very strategic. He sends gifts ahead in the hope of appeasing Esau. Then he sent his wives and his children across the river Jabbok. Finally, he was alone. That night he's alone. An angel of the Lord came to Jacob and took hold of him and wrestled with him all night long. This is the famous wrestling with God. The wrestling of the angel of God. This is where the Scripture has so many insights for us.
Let's pick it up now right from that point. Chapter 32 we begin in verse 22 and the rest of the verses remember we fill in the gaps between these on Wednesdays in our verse-by-verse study. Verse 22, "Now he arose that same night and he took his two wives and his two maids and his 11 children and he crossed the ford of the Jabbok. Then he took them and sent them across the stream and he sent across whatever he had. Then Jacob was alone and the man came to him took hold of him and wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh-"
The socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with Him. "Then he said, enough let me go, the dawn is breaking now." In other words, that's enough but he said, "I will not let you go." Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." We understand from the Prophet Hosea, he is now weeping for this. He's weeping for this, I cannot let you go he's crying out please bless me. He said to him, "What is your name?" and he has to tell him, "My name is Jacob, my name is heel snatcher." He said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, you've been a hill snatcher long enough. Your name will now be Israel, for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed."
Then Jacob asked Him and said, "Please tell me your name?" He said, "Why is it that you asked my name?" He blessed him there. Jacob named the place Peniel for he said, "I have seen the face of God." At some point, he began to understand this is an angel of God. I have seen the face of God, yet my life has been preserved. Now, the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Peniel. He was limping on his thigh and he had a limp from thereafter. Therefore, to this day, the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip. Which is on the socket of the thigh, whether it be a goat or bull because he touched the socket of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip.
I. We are in the Process of Becoming
This really very fascinating story and there's a lot for us to learn in it. Starting with this perspective, that we are all in the process of becoming. This is the process of Jacob changing. He was given the name Jacob because he had a hold of his brother's heel. They thought let's call him heel snatcher and unfortunately, he lived according to the meaning of that name. Which tells you a lot about the importance of what you say to a young child but it's time to change and it's time to change that name.
First, see God is going to confront him by striving with him, wrestling with him, contending with him. He's bringing this crisis for a reason. For the purpose of transforming him. Here he is in this place where cannot go back to Laban, that relationship is broken. He cannot go back to Laban and in front of him is his brother Esau with 400 men. Here he is, he's stuck. He needs now God to confront him. See Jacob must learn to stop relying on his own heel catching, supplanting conniving, his own strength, his cleverness, he must learn that God will contend with those who contend against him, that God is the “Blesser” of his life, but that he must cling the God. Realize that God will rustle with him.
A. God can bring purpose out of problems
God will contend with them if you must. See, this is important. There's much out of the story for us to learn. For example, God can bring purpose out of problems. We're all in the process of becoming of transforming and God can bring purpose out of problems for the purpose of transforming. God is the one who came, initiated this. God is the one who took hold of Jacob. God is the one who told him to go back to the land of his father's knowing that Esau was waiting for him. It's time to face the past. You can't run from the past forever.
It's time to face the past time to make things right. It's time to reconcile with Esau. Now, when he hears that there's 400 men coming with Esau, you might think that's a major obstacle, but the major obstacle was not his brother. It was God and God is the one that's going to contend to. God is the one who's going to wrestle with him. God is good to strive with him. God uses crisis. There are opportunities to get things resolved in our lives. It's opportunities to change our character. God is preparing us for greater things. God is transforming us because he is preparing us.
C. S. Lewis once wrote, God whispers very famous quote. God whispers to us in our pleasures. He speaks to us in our conscience, but He shouts to us in our pain like James. Very famous James 1:2-4, "Consider it all joy, my brethren when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance or strengthens you." In other words that endurance have its perfect result that you may be perfect, complete, lacking in nothing. In other words, what is he saying? Testing of faith strengthens faith. That's what he's saying. If your faith cannot be tested, then your faith cannot be trusted.
We need our faith to be strengthened because there are many challenges in front of us in this life. This life is filled with challenges and there are many more to come. When we face our problems, we think that they're very great, but there are greater ones. I remember when we had our first baby, Nicole was her name, and I thought when we had our first babies, little babies so cute. I thought, oh my goodness, we're never going to get a full night's sleep. In fact, she had colic so bad that we had to take like two-hour shifts just to get any sleep at all. Right? I'm just like complaining. This parenting thing is really hard. Anybody who's had a first-time baby with colic, this parenting thing is really hard. Little did I know someday out there we would have five teenagers in our house at the same time, that my friend is a challenge.
This is the perspective you get from Jeremiah 12:5 because God says something very similar to that. He says, if you've run with footmen and they have tired you up, what are you going to do? How are you going to compete with horses?
B. Pray the promises that God gave you
There are greater things to come if you fall down in the land of peace, how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? There are greater challenges before us. Here's what Jacob does. In fact, the verses leading up to this, I skipped over them, but they're important because what he does is he prays. First time we ever see Jacob praying, what does he do? He prays the very promises that God gave to him. He's going to use the promises and he's going to pray those promises. Now, this is important for you can learn much from this point.
Pray the promises that God gave you is absolutely right. Jacob, he hears that Esau is coming with 400 men and he turns to God in despair and it's an example of using the promises as the substance of prayer. "Oh, God." He prays. "You are the one who directed me and the one who said that you would prosper me, deliver me. You told me to come. Now, I face my brother, deliver me I pray." He's taken the promises and he's praying those promises. You don't see Jacob praying until this point and it's a point of crisis. Oftentimes it is a crisis that brings people to a point of prayer. Now, some people criticize that. They say, "Well, it took a crisis." To which I say, "Hey, he's praying."
God is on the move.
Calls out to God, but quoting those promises, there's something right and very powerful about using Scripture and the promises that God gave. One of the great examples, I think in church history has to be George Mueller. If you know the story of George Mueller, he became famous for his-- He was a missionary and famous for his trusting of God. Man, who believed in the power of trusting God in prayer and relying on God's promises when he prayed. He had several orphanages over the course of his lifetime. I think he took care of more than 10,000 orphans. At one point he had like a thousand orphans in his care and he was out of money.
The story of George Mueller is a very interesting story because his early life in Prussia which is a state of Germany was marked by lying, gambling, drinking, fraud, arrested for fraud. At Age 15, he was playing cards and drinking while his mother was dying. He had a despicable character. He admits freely and it troubled him in his spirit. He was troubled in soul, God contended with them. You might say, God, confronted him and touched his soul and touched his life. He began to turn to God and learn to trust God even for the miraculous.
He became a preacher and a person who trusted God to taking care of is orphans. One day they have no food. They have no money and he prays. "God." He dragged it all the kids to pray. "God, you promised that you would give us our daily bread. God, you know that we have no food. You promised to give us our daily bread." As he was praying, almost miraculously a cart loaded with bread broke down in front of the orphanage and the driver said, "I cannot do anything with this bread. Please take all of it." It was a famous story.
II. Surrender All to God
2 Timothy 1:12, speaks to it. "I am not ashamed. I know who I have believed and I am persuaded." I love that phrase. I am persuaded. I am convinced this thing is settled in me. I am not ashamed for I know whom I have believed. I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have entrusted to him. Until that day. It's a great promise. Jacob prayed that God would deliver him. "God deliver me." God is going to answer. God is going to answer that prayer miraculously, but he's got to deliver him from himself first. Thus, he contends with him. As we look to that, let's apply that to our own lives. Maybe we could apply it this way. Surrender all to God.
A. God contends so that He might bless
There's that old hymn. "I surrender." That's a great perspective to come to God. I surrender all to Jesus, I surrender all to Him I freely give. There's that point that you come to. The Lord wrestled with Jacob all night long and Jacob knew that he had an encounter with God. Then verse 28 is so amazing because He says, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob but Israel, for you have striven with God and men and prevailed." God contends. This is important because this is something we need to see as applying to our lives. God contends so that He might bless. You see that coming out of the story.
He wrestling with God and they keep wrestling through the night. The amazing thing is that God doesn't just pin him in three seconds, but He allows him to keep wrestling. He allows them to keep striving. You had been striving and you have been striving. Just keep striving. Of course, God could have just-- In fact, as it got towards morning, He touched him on the hip and immediately his hip was dislocated as a demonstration, I think as a active demonstration of the power of God. God is bigger than we are. We generally must understand that we cannot win when it comes to wrestling God.
Once when our kids were younger and one of our children was having, let's say, difficulty obeying. I took him, okay, Sino was one of the two boys, I took him out of bed. I swooped him out of bed actually because he was being disobedient. I swooped him out of the bed in my arms and I brought into my room and I put him on the floor and I said, "You will stay right there on that spot until this thing is resolved." Then he said, "Well, this isn't fair. You're bigger than I am." To which I said, "I think you're starting to understand how this works."
God contents. God wrestles with us and could defeat us in an instant that allows us, until we come to the point where we say, God, I surrender. I will cling to you now. You and you alone are the blesser of my life. Hosea tells us that he did so with weeping. It broke him. He was weeping. Hosea 12. it's important to see that God initiates this. God is the one who comes to Jacob. God is the one who lays hold of him. God is contending with him. When God contends, is because something needs to be contended with.
1 Peter 5:5-7, gives us this perspective. God resists the proud. That's another word. Resisting is another word for contending, isn't it? God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.
Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. What a great perspective. Humble yourself therefore under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you at the proper time. Therefore, He says, casting all your anxiety, all of your worries on Him because He cares for you. When God contends you can be sure it's because something needs to be contended with. David has to be an example. God contended with David the king after he sinned, by taking another man's wife and David soul was in agony. He was-- God was contending in his soul by the Holy Spirit. Psalm 6:3-6, he says, "My soul is greatly dismayed. Return oh Lord and rescue my soul. I am weary with my sighing. I dissolved my couch with my tears."
God was contending because God knew that there was something that needed to be contended with. Back to our story in Genesis 32, He dislocates him. He touches on the hip and dislocates him on the hip. This is important because there is purpose in a limp. Thereafter, he limps the rest of his life.
B. There is purpose in a limp
A reminder that he must no longer trust in his own strength. Now, by the way, weakened, dislocated hip he can't even run from Esau. He has to, he must cling to God. He has no other option, but to cling to God. See, God gave him a limp in order to strengthen him. Now that's an interesting thing, isn't it? God gave him a limp in order to strengthen him. God may prune in order to bring more fruit. Like Hebrews 12:11, "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful yet to those who had been trained by it afterwards, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." Great perspective.
In the pocket of a soldier in the civil war, there was found a prayer and that prayer became famous. Let me just read it to you because that prayer says it all. It went this way. "I asked for strength that I might achieve, but he made me weak that I might obey. I asked for health that I might do great things. He gave me grace that I might do better things. I asked for riches, that I might be happy. He gave me poverty, that I might be wise. I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men. He gave me weakness that I might feel the need for God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life, He gave me life that I might enjoy all things. I received nothing that I asked for, but He gave me everything that I hoped for."
I just love that prayer. Like Luke 9:24-25, Jesus gives us this perspective. "Whoever wishes to save his life by his own efforts, by his own means, his own strength. He who wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits his soul?"
C. Be governed by God
Back to Genesis 32. The name Israel is a great name to be given to him. Be governed by God is the meaning of the name. Just before sunrise, he says, "Enough, let me go. The sun is breaking. The dawn is breaking. That's enough." This is amazing to me. Jacob was still clinging to Him even though he had a dislocated hip. Jacob responded. Now we know from Hosea in weeping in tears, "I will not let you go unless you bless me," and that statement won God over. Jacob has won God over. He wept. He started blessing from God. Jacob is learning to cling to God. Can we give a phrase to this that I think it would be helpful for us if we could take hold of this principle and write this principle on the tablet of our heart?
If any good thing comes to my life, I want it to be from the hand of God. Would you agree with that? If any good thing comes to my life, I want it to be that God gave it to me, that I didn't take it for myself outside of God's will. I want any good thing. I want God to have given it to me because the blessings of God come with it and that is what I want. Can you win God over? God loves to be won over by genuine faith. Can I give you an absolutely amazing example right out of the Scriptures? Absolutely amazing. Jesus was traveling and He went up to the region of Tyre and Sidon which is near the coast and on the coast just to the north of Israel.
It's outside the borders of Israel. There in that region, a Canaanite woman from the area, she comes and she began to cry out. She's said, "Have mercy on me, Lord, son of David. My daughter is cruelly demon-possessed." Now, she's saying the right things. "My Lord, son of David." She's a Canaanite woman, but she's calling Him the Messiah of Israel, son of David. She calls out, "Lord, have mercy on me, son of David, my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed." The disciples, they came and they started imploring Jesus and they said, "Send this woman away because she keeps shouting at us. She just won't stop. She won't leave us alone. She just kept shouting at us, send this woman away."
Jesus answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." He says to her, but she bowed down and she said, "Lord, help me." He said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and give it to the dogs." This is Matthew 15. Listen, watch as she wins Him over. Matthew 15:27-28, but she said, "Yes Lord, but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their master's table." Then Jesus said, "Oh woman, your faith is great. It shall be done just as you wish." Her daughter was healed at once. I just, I don't know about you. I love that story. I just love that story because she wins Him over by her great faith. God loves to see great faith.
Jacob prevailed in that even when his hip was dislocated, he wept and he kept clinging to God and he sought his favor. He knew that God blessing him now before he must meet his brother Esau coming fast with a force of 400 men. That is exactly what he needed, he desperately needed now to cling to God. The angel then asked him, "What is your name?" The question reveals his greatest weakness because the answer reveals who he is. Imagine this, we would think he would say, "My name is Jacob." In Hebrew, literally what he is saying is, "My name, my name is deceiver. That’s my name."
At some point he knows he has an encounter with God and so he says, "Bless me, bless me." He said, "All right, I’ll bless you. What’s your name?" "Where do I start? My name is heel snatcher, my name is supplanter, my name is deceiver." You can just imagine God saying, "You've lived long enough being called that. No longer shall your name be heel snatcher. Now your name will be Israel." It has two meanings, it has two shades, two parts of it you might say. It means contended by God and it means God contends. It’s a great word.
Contended by God and God contends. Receiving the name Israel is the very blessing that Jacob needed. To be given that name was the very thing that Jacob needed. Israel, being governed by God and God will contend with those who contend against you. Know this, God will contend with you if he must, but if you are governed by God, if you submit and humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, then He will contend with those who contend against you. Romans 8:31-32, "What then shall we say to this things? If God be for us, who could be against us. He who did not spare His own son but delivered Him up for us all, how He will not also-"
- Sermon Notes
Wrestling with God
Last week in our study, Jacob had to leave his mother, whom he dearly loved, his father whom he had deceived, and his brother who wanted to kill him.
Because of his mother Rebekah’s influence, Isaac sent Jacob some 500 miles away, to Haran, to her brother Laban. It was there Jacob was to find a wife amongst her relatives.
Jacob was on the run because all around him he created heartbreak and conflict.All his relationships were broken.On the way he had an encounter with God.He had a dream where he saw a ladder or stairway from earth to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it.God then gave him the blessings of Abraham and Isaac.When he awoke he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I didn’t know it.How awesome is this place!This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”And he called that place Bethel – the house of God.
When he arrived in Haran, he met Rachel and her father Laban; he fell in love with Rachel and agreed to work seven years for her hand in marriage since he had no dowry.
Many see some poetic justice when Jacob met Laban.The heel snatcher meets the manipulator.After Jacob worked seven years for Rachel, Laban did some serious conniving of his own and put his older daughter, Leah, in Jacob’s tent instead of Rachel on their wedding night! He then must work another seven years to get Rachel, the one he truly loved.
Then, in a turnabout of manipulation, Jacob agreed to work several more years if he could have the goats of the flock that were spotted or speckled and the lambs that were black.He then created a breeding program so that most of the goats were born spotted or speckled and the lambs were born black.Thus, he ended up with most of what Laban had.
When we come to Genesis 32, twenty years have passed. God finally spoke to Jacob and told him to go back to the land of his fathers and that God would be with him.
But then a problem arises – a very big problem; his brother Esau. He sent word to Esau that he was coming, and his servants returned with the news, “Esau is coming out to meet you and has 400 men with him.”Jacob interprets that as a sign of great danger.400 men is not a welcoming party, it’s an army.
He divided his company into two groups; if one is attacked the other could flee.He sent gifts ahead of him in the hope of appeasing Esau.He sent his wives and children across the River Jabbock. Finally, he was alone, and that night the angel of the Lord came to Jacob, took hold of him and wrestled with him all night long. This is where the scripture reveals powerful insights for our lives as well.
I. We are in the Process of Becoming
- Jacob was given that name because he had hold of his brother’s heel as he was being born.Unfortunately, he lived by the meaning of that name all his life.
- It’s time to change.It’s time to change that name, but first, God confronts Jacob by striving, wrestling, and contending with him.
- God brought this crisis for the purpose of transforming him. He can’t go back to Laban and in front of him is his brother with 400 men.
- But first, Jacob must learn to stop relying on his own strength, his clever heel snatching.He must learn that God will contend with those who contend against him; that God will be the blessor of his life; but he must cling to God and realize that God will wrestle with him, God will contend with him, if he must.
A. God can bring purpose out of problems
- God is the one who told Jacob to go back to the land of his fathers, knowing that Esau was there waiting for him.
- It was time to face the past; it was time to make things right, it was time to reconcile with Esau.
- Jacob sent word to Esau that he was on the way.His servants returned and told him that Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men. That might seem like a great obstacle, but Jacob’s major obstacle was not his brother, it was God.
- God uses troubles and crisis to change us. They’re opportunities to get things resolved in our lives and in our character, and they are preparing us for greater challenges to come.
Illus – CSW Lewis once wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pain.”
James 1:2-4, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- In other words, the testing of your faith strengthens your faith.If your faith cannot be tested, then your faith cannot be trusted.
- We need our faith to be strengthened because there are many challenges yet to come.
Illus – When we had our first baby, I thought we would never get a full night’s sleep. She had colic so badly we had to take two hour shifts to get any sleep at all.I was complaining because I thought parenting was so difficult. Little did I know we would someday have five kids in their teens all at the same time!
Jeremiah 12:5, If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?
B. Pray the promises that God gave you
- In verses 9-12, Jacob turned to God with a prayer that is an example of using the promises of God as the substance of prayer.
- “O God,” he prays, “You are the one who directed me and the one who said that you would prosper me, deliver me, I pray…”
- You don’t see Jacob as a man who prays until this point in his life, but he turns to God in this crisis, and calls out to God by quoting the promises that God gave him.
- There is something very right and powerful about using scripture and the promises of God in your prayer.
Illus – George Mueller was a man who believed in the power of trusting God in prayer and relying on God’s promises when he prayed. He trusted God to take care of the more than 1000 orphans in his care. But God had to contend with him first.
His early life in Prussia, in Germany, was marked by lying, gambling, drinking, and imprisonment for fraud. At age fifteen, he was playing cards and drinking with friends while his mother lay dying.
George Mueller was troubled in his spirit, but God touched his life and he learned to trust God, even for the miraculous. One day the orphanage had no money and no food, “You promised to give us our daily bread,” he prayed, and then, almost miraculously, a cart loaded with bread broke down in front of the orphanage. The driver gave it all to the orphanage.
2 Timothy 1:12, I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have entrusted to Him until that day.
- Jacob prayed that God would deliver him and God will surely answer that prayer, but he will deliver him from himself first.
II. Surrender All to God
- A man wrestled with Jacob all night long and Jacob knew he had an encounter with God!
- Verse 28 is amazing – “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”
A. God contends so that He might bless
- Jacob is wrestling with God and they keep wrestling all through the night.
- The amazing thing is that God doesn’t pin him in three seconds. This much is certain, God is bigger than we are.
Illus – Once when one of our children was having difficulty obeying, I took him out of bed and set him on the floor of our bedroom and told him to stay there; he was on a timeout. “This isn’t fair,” he said, “you’re bigger than I am.” “That’s exactly the point,” I said.
- God wrestles with us and could defeat us in an instant but allows us to continue until we come to the point where we say, “God, I surrender; I will cling now to You… You and You alone are the blessor of my life.”
- The prophet Hosea said that when Jacob wrestled with God, he wept and sought His favor.
- It’s important to see that God initiated this wrestling match with Jacob. When God contends, it’s because something needs contending with…
1 Peter 5:5-7, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
Illus – God contended with David after he sinned by taking another man’s wife and David’s soul was in agony…
Psalm 6:3-6, My soul was greatly dismayed… Return, O Lord, rescue my soul… I am weary with my sighing, I dissolve my couch with my tears.
B. There is purpose in a limp
- As they wrestled through the night, Jacob refused to give up, and as the dawn was almost breaking, seeing that Jacob would not stop contending, he touched him on the hip, and dislocated it.
- Thereafter Jacob would walk with a limp; a reminder that he must no longer trust in his own strength. Now weakened, Jacob could not fight nor, could he run from Esau; he must cling to God.
- In other words, God may give a limp in order to strengthen. He may prune in order to bring forth fruit.
Hebrews 12:11, All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
- In the pocket of a soldier in the Civil war was found this prayer that says it all…
- Illus – I asked for strength that I might achieve, He made me weak that I might obey, I asked for health that I might do great things, He gave me grace that I might do better things, I asked for riches that I might be happy, He gave me poverty that I might be wise, I asked for power that I might have the praise of men, he gave me weakness that I might feel the need for God, I asked for all thing that I might enjoy life, He gave me life that I might enjoy all things. I received nothing I asked for, He gave me everything I hoped for.
Luke 9:24-25, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself.”
C. Be governed by God
- Just before sunrise he said, “Let me go for the dawn is breaking.” In other words, that’s enough.Jacob was still holding on to him even though he had a dislocated hip.
- But Jacob responded, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
- Jacob has won God over; he wept and sought a blessing from God.Jacob learned to cling to God.If any good thing comes, let it be from the hand of God.
- Can you win God over?Yes.God loves to be won over by genuine faith…
Illus – When Jesus was in the region of Tyre and Sidon, outside of Israel, a Canaanite woman from that region came and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon possessed.”…And the disciples came imploring Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.”Jesus answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”But she bowed down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”And he answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs.”…
Matthew 15:27-28, But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.”Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.”And her daughter was healed at once.
- Jacob prevailed in that even when his hip was dislocated, he wept and kept clinging to God and sought His favor. He knew that God blessing him now, before he must meet his brother Esau rapidly approaching with a force of 400 men, was what he desperately needed.
- The angel then asked, “What is your name?” This question revealed his greatest weakness, because the answer reveals who he is, “My name is heel snatcher, supplanter, deceiver.”
- He then said, “You have lived long enough being Jacob, the heel-snatcher, the supplanter. Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel”
- The name “Israel” can be seen in two ways. It means ‘Contended by God,’ and ‘God contends.’
- Receiving the name ‘Israel’ is the blessing Jacob needed.
- Israel – ‘Be governed by God and God will contend with those who contend against you,’ but also know this, that ‘God will contend with you if He must.’
Romans 8:31-32, What then shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Genesis 32:22-32 NASB