• Hi Guest!

    I've added a brand new "Night Mode" option to our site design. I'd greatly appreciate your vote on this poll here.

    To switch to night mode (or back to light/default theme) simply scroll all the way down to the footer and click on the style chooser.

    Thank you.

Jacob wrestling with God: The Meaning

Users who viewed this discussion (Total:0)

Administrator
Staff member
What is the meaning of Jacob wrestling with God?

To best answer this question, it helps to know, among other things, that deep-seated family hostilities characterized Jacob’s life. He was a determined man; some would consider him to be ruthless. He was a con artist, a liar, and a manipulator. In fact, the name Jacob not only means “deceiver,” but more literally it means “grabber.”

To know Jacob’s story is to know his life was one of never-ending struggles. Though God promised Jacob that through him would come not only a great nation, but a whole company of nations, he was a man full of fears and anxieties. We now come to a pivotal point in his life when he is about to meet his brother, Esau, who has vowed to kill him. All Jacob’s struggles and fears are about to be realized. Sick of his father-in-law's treatment, Jacob has fled Laban, only to encounter his embittered brother, Esau. Anxious for his very life, Jacob concocted a bribe and sent a caravan of gifts along with his women and children across the River Jabbok in hopes of pacifying his brother. Now physically exhausted, alone in the desert wilderness, facing sure death, he’s divested of all his worldly possessions. In fact, he’s powerless to control his fate. He collapses into a deep sleep on the banks of the Jabbok River. With his father-in-law behind him and Esau before him, he was too spent to struggle any longer.

But only then did his real struggle begin. Fleeing his family history had been bad enough; wrestling with God Himself was a different matter altogether. That night an angelic stranger visited Jacob. They wrestled throughout the night until daybreak, at which point the stranger crippled Jacob with a blow to his hip that disabled him with a limp for the rest of his life. It was by then Jacob knew what had happened: “I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared” (Genesis 32:30). In the process, Jacob the deceiver received a new name, Israel, which likely means “He struggles with God.” However, what is most important occurs at the conclusion of that struggle. We read that God “blessed him there” (Genesis 32:29).

In Western culture and even in our churches, we celebrate wealth and power, strength, confidence, prestige, and victory. We despise and fear weakness, failure, and doubt. Though we know that a measure of vulnerability, fear, discouragement and depression come with normal lives, we tend to view these as signs of failure or even a lack of faith. However, we also know that in real life, naïve optimism and the glowing accolades of glamour and success are a recipe for discontent and despair. Sooner or later, the cold, hard realism of life catches up with most of us. The story of Jacob pulls us back to reality.

Frederick Buechner, one the most read authors by Christian audiences, characterizes Jacob’s divine encounter at the Jabbok River as the “magnificent defeat of the human soul at the hands of God.” It’s in Jacob’s story we can easily recognize our own elements of struggle: fears, darkness, loneliness, vulnerabilities, empty feelings of powerlessness, exhaustion and relentless pain.

Even the apostle Paul experienced similar discouragements and fears: “We were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within” (2 Corinthians 7:5). But, in truth, God does not want to leave us with our trials, our fears, our battles in life. What we come to learn in our conflicts of life is that God proffers us a corresponding divine gift. It is through Him that we can receive the power of conversion and transformation, the gift of not only surrender, but freedom, and the gifts of endurance, faith and courage.

In the end, Jacob does what we all must do. He confronts his failures, his weaknesses, his sins, all the things that are hurting him . . . and faces God. Jacob wrestled with God all night. It was an exhausting struggle that left him crippled. It was only after he came to grips with God and ceased his struggling, realizing that he could not go on without Him, that he received God’s blessing (Genesis 32:29).

What we learn from this remarkable incident in the life of Jacob is that our lives are never meant to be easy. This is especially true when we take it upon ourselves to wrestle with God and His will for our lives. We also learn that as Christians, despite our trials and tribulations, our strivings in this life are never devoid of God’s presence, and His blessing inevitably follows the struggle, which can sometimes be messy and chaotic. Real growth experiences always involve struggle and pain.

Jacob’s wrestling with God at the Jabbok that dark night reminds us of this truth: though we may fight God and His will for us, in truth, God is so very good. As believers in Christ, we may well struggle with Him through the loneliness of night, but by daybreak His blessing will come.

original source: http://www.gotquestions.org/Jacob-wrestling-with-God.html
 
New Member
The story also has some symbolic understanding as well. Jacob wrestled at night with God.
Spiritually,, Jacob was a man in darkness wrestling against God. It wasn't until afterwards did the
sun light shine on Jacob. It wasn't until after Jacob submitted that he walked in the light.
Genesis 32:30-31 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and
my life is preserved. (31) And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.
 
Loyal Member
Consider also that the man and the man's ways were still very much present in Jacob. His name meant "deceiver", "grabber" or "supplanter", but he was given a new name [Israel] which meant "God prevails".

So it is that God will prevail, when we finally stop fighting against Him, but when is that? Jacob was given that new name but still most of the time when reference is made to the man in scripture, (rather than the children of the man), he is called Jacob rather than Israel.

When we, you and I, have been given a new and better purpose through the Holy Ghost, why is it that our "new name" [Rev 2:17] is not readily apparent even to us? Do we like Jacob continue to strive with God for a blessing, rather than accepting, acknowledging that "God" must "prevail" before the new name can really be continuously applied to us?
 
Loyal Member
I guess we could say, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom". Not until we find our self's at a place of being unable to figure out how to do anything on our own that is worth anything. Not until we give up, and give in, then God finally has a man he can begin to teach him his ways.
 

Similar threads

Top