Have you had a time of wrestling within? Have you come to a place where you know things must change? Have you looked at yourself and said, “Something within me is not right; I need to change; I need help.” If you’ve asked these questions, you’ve come to a similar season in your life as Jacob. Yes, Jacob is the one in the Bible who wrestled with the angel – some translators say He actually wrestled with God or Jesus – and He received a blessing in the end (Genesis 32:22-28)!
Let’s review Jacob’s story. Jacob was the twin of Esau, and Jacob conned his brother out of his birthright. Later, Jacob conned his father (Isaac) into thinking he was Esau, and he received the blessing that was due his elder brother Esau. Jacob then reaped what he sowed - he was deceived by Laban into marrying Leah rather than Rachel who was his heart’s love. He had to work more years for Rachel. The day came that he would see his brother Esau again, and the weight of his deceptive ways with his brother and his father fell heavily upon him. He was alone.
While alone, an angel came and wrestled with him (Gen. 32:24). Jacob held on tight as he grabbed and clinched. He wrestled for dear life with the angel, and some commentators say he actually wrestled with himself - the old Jacob versus the new. The life he had chosen to live up to that point wrestled with the part of him yearning to live rightly. Jacob held on and tossed with such desperation that the Bible says, “When the Man (angel) saw that He had not prevailed against Jacob, He touched his hip joint; and Jacob’s hip was dislocated” (Gen. 32:25, Amplified).
Let’s go to Hosea 12:4 to learn more about this wrestling encounter. In Hosea, we learn that Jacob wept and made supplications – meaning he wept in repentance over the life he had lived. He was broken within and wrestled with great fervor as his character and priorities were changing. Wounding and healing came to Jacob at the same time. He held on, through the wounding of his hip, for a blessing from the Lord (Gen. 32:26).
What was the blessing? The blessing was a name change: “And the angel said, ‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed’” (Gen. 32:28). In other words, during the time Jacob was alone, he looked at himself and realized he was bankrupt within. He did not need to run another con; he needed to repent, turn, and go another way in order to receive a blessing. His name was changed to reflect the transformation that occurred within. The name Israel means “He who struggles with God” and also “a prince of God.”
Genesis 32:26 says the angel and Jacob wrestled until the breaking of day. Morning eventually came, and the dawn of day – the sunrise – lit upon Jacob’s soul. As the breaking of day arrived, Jacob broke free from his past ways. During this time of being alone, a mighty transformation took place in his life.
Allow me to share a recent time of wrestling that I experienced. My parents are in their mid-80s, and I am the sibling who lives closest and ensures they have all they need and are safe. Over the course of a few months, my dad began having physical difficulties, and my concern for him went deep. He’s my dad, a true dad, a blessing from God! I began feeling real stress in my mind, in my emotions, and in my body for him.
God checked me about this and told me in my spirit that I was heading over the guard rails in my life. After a particularly tough day, I prayed, and I also called an intercessor to pray for me. As Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms, this intercessor held up mine.
A few nights later, in the middle of the night, I woke up. I could not go back to sleep. My spirit and soul collided. It was time to wrestle with myself and with God (my knowledge of Him). Would I rest in God or be anxious? Would my Word-filled spirit win or would my anxious soul? I made a decision that night to walk out the Word and release the worry. I asked God to show me how, and then I just went to sleep. In my time of devotions with the Lord the next day, He gave me a scripture (Ps. 138:3): “In the day when I cried, You answered me, and strengthened me with strength in my soul.” That scripture stirs me to this day. God strengthens us even to the depth of our souls. I am guided by God, and I always find Jesus – my Shepherd – within the lines of scripture. Friend, we have so much help along our faith walk.
I now know that those who hold tightly to God in prayer when their needs, their flaws, or their faults are revealed – those will be honored by the Lord. Those who will wrestle in order to deal with things that must change within will receive a blessing from the Lord. Receive the breaking of day within your soul as I have. Think on these things.
Please read Laying Aside Sin and Weights to learn how our walk of faith not only involves turning to Jesus, but also continually turning away from the sin that enslaves us.
Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” (Genesis 32:26).
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