The Call to wrestle with God A key to becoming more like Him
Gen 32: 5 - 13 • When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” • In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.” • Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”
Gen 32: 24 – 30 • So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” • But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” • The man asked him, “What is your name?” • “Jacob,” he answered. • Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” • Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” • But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. • So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
1. What is your name? • Jacob could not say, Esau, as he did earlier trying to impersonate someone else to inherit the blessings of God. He had to come to grips with the reality and admit just who he was – Jacob, the deceiver; the heel grabber; the conniver. Only then could God truly bless him. “God requires truth in the innermost parts.” – Psalm 51 • You can’t try to pretend to be someone on Sunday morning in church and be totally someone else Monday to Saturday and expect to receive all that God has for you. Can’t live a double life.
1. What is your name? • Can’t live someone else’s life. While it is great to have mentors and people that we can learn a lot from, we need to discover who God has designed for us to be so that he can bless us into our purpose and destiny for which he has created us. God has a plan for each one of us – Psalm 139. • Train up a child in the way in which he should go and when he is older he will not depart from it. A child is a gift from God and it is the job of parents to discover what are the talents, gifts and abilities that the Lord has already placed in that child so the parents are responsible for developing those gifts, talents and abilities.
2. From Jacob to Israel • God loves a tussle! The very name “Israel” means wrestles with God and man and overcomes. The fact that this name is preserved through history tells me that God loves a tussle. There is a nation in existence today 5000 years after this event tells me that God values this wrestling. In heaven all through eternity there will be the name Israel. Habakkuk. Paul. Not que sera sera. Not fatalism. • There is character change in the process of wrestling with God. Names reflect character. I am confident that God does not dump stuff in our laps because he is more committed to forming his character in us that he is concerned with making us happy and feeling good because we have a God who answers our prayers whenever we pray. God will not be treated as a vending machine. Imagine the situation where a son comes into his father’s presence only when he wants something from him.
2. From Jacob to Israel • What promises has God given to you? What dreams have you had locked away in your heart? Some of those promises were given to you a long time ago and you have not seen them come to pass. And you have become disappointed with God. • No promises? • Heb 13: 5 -- I will never leave you I will never forsake you. • Jer 29:11 -- I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future. • John 6:35 -- I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
2. From Jacob to Israel • Well, it’s time for you to pick up those promises again, dust them off and then present them to God again. Because you have every right to expect God to come through in His timing. The only caveat is that you have to make sure that this is a promise that God has made to you; not a concoction of your own machination.
3. Peniel - face to face with God • The pressures and difficulties of life are meant for you to run to God not away from him. God will do whatever it takes for you to be intimate with him. You will never be truly fruitful for God and bear eternal fruit (fruit that will last) until you develop intimacy with him, an authentic sense of dependence on God. That will never happen without some crises, some challenges in your life.
4. Marked for Life • John Arnott says that he can never trust – and really work with - someone what doesn’t have a limp. The greatest heroes of the faith are those who have overcome significant obstacles and let God work his nature into their lives and have been marked for life.