In the last article, we looked at destiny and what it means. Each of us is born with a destiny. At a minimum, that means that God has designed a purpose or destination for our life.
Some people believe that destiny and fate are the same – that their destiny/fate is sealed and irresistible. But my personal opinion is that our destiny is not irresistible. God has set it as a destination that we have the ability to reach – if we make the correct decisions.
It seems clear that in order for Jacob to fulfill his destiny (become the patriarch of the 12 tribes of Israel) HE had to make some changes. Before Jacob could lead the great nation that God had promised (Gen 28:14), he had to learn to follow.
Until Jacob submitted to God, he could never be the great leader that God intended. Jacob demonstrated his inability to follow God in the bad choices he made:
- He deceived Laban, leaving without telling his father-in-law/uncle (Gen 31:20)
- He tried to pacify Esau rather than trust God to manage the reunion (Gen 32:20)
- He submitted to Esau as a “servant” (Gen 32:4) when the prophecy (his destiny) said “the older [Esau] shall serve the younger [Jacob]” (Gen 25:23)
God wanted Jacob to make some changes in his character. He asked Jacob his NAME. Biblical names often represented a person’s character. God already knew Jacob perfectly (including his name) but He wanted Jacob to admit that his character was true to his name.
The name “Jacob” meant supplanter, usurper, struggler, heel catcher (behind) and those are the character traits that Jacob demonstrated. All of his life, Jacob had been a deceiver and supplanter.
Miriam-Webster defines the word supplant, “to supersede (another) especially by force or treachery.” Jacob stole his brother Esau’s birthright through deceit & treachery (Gen 27:22-29). He deceived his father-in-law Laban & manipulated situations to take Laban’s wealth for his own (Gen 31:1,20,21).
When the “man” touched Jacob’s hip and he could no longer stand on his own – much less continue to wrestle – he leaned on the man (God). (Compare the man’s statement “let me go.”) It was at that point, when he stopped trusting his own strength and began trusting in God’s strength, that his name was changed to Israel. The name means “God prevails.” “For as a prince hast thou power with God” (KJV).
A prince has no inherent power but derives power from his relationship with the King. Hence, since God prevailed in this struggle, Jacob/Israel also prevailed as a result of his new dependence upon God.
Question: Are you stronger when you depend upon your own strength, or when you trust in the strength of God?
2Co 12:10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.