What does it mean when the Scripture (Gen 32:24-31) talks of Jacob “wrestling” with God? How does one do such a thing? And, is it an appropriate activity for ALL of God’s children?
One interpretation of what was happening between Jacob and God is that Jacob was in fervent prayer (James 5:16). However, there is little to support such a statement. Jacob was more inclined to manipulate events to his favor than he was to ask God to intervene on his (or anyone else’s) behalf.
Jacob was the “supplanter” who STOLE his brother’s birthright. His life (at least to this point) had been a continual stream of lies, deceptions & manipulation of others. It is highly unlikely that he had now become totally dependent upon God.
Even if Jacob WAS praying, it is pretty clear that his main concern at this point was to placate or pacify (Gen 32:20) his brother Esau. So, any prayer that he would be uttering would have been to get God to work out the dispute between Esau and himself.
Question: Does God “fix” the issues that we have caused? Or, does He require that WE repent, make restitution and do everything WE can to resolve such disputes? Would it be appropriate for God grant a “get out of jail free” card in response to Jacob’s deception of his father Isaac & “supplanting” his brother Esau? When did Jacob repent of those things? What had he done to resolve the dispute?
To understand what this “wrestling match” was all about, we probably should understand WHO started the match. Genesis 32:24 states that “a man wrestled with him [Jacob] till daybreak.” Again, assuming that the man was actually God, and considering the grammar of the sentence, we would probably say that GOD started the wrestling match. If so, then the idea that Jacob was praying falls apart. It seems more likely that God used this event to grab Jacob’s attention and move him to make some changes in his lifestyle.
Question: Has God ever kept you up all night (literally or symbolically) in an attempt to get you to make some changes in your life? Have you ever experienced some hardship and later realized that God was using the event to move you to some better position? Have you ever said “Thank you God for allowing me to experience that hardship”?
Evangelist Kenneth Copeland (not the one from TV) was in attendance when I preached this message. Prior to the message, he commented that sometimes our “set backs” are actually “set ups” whereby God intends for us to “step up.” — Great thought Brother Copeland! I totally agree!
So, that brings us to a related question… Should WE be trying to “wrestle” with God? I submit that Jacob’s position was not one that we should try to emulate. On the other hand… If God really did “start” this wrestling match, and if God really did intend for Jacob to change (rather than Jacob calling for some action from God), then what was the change that God intended?
Be sure to tune in next week for the next installment in the “Perils of Pauline” — Oh, sorry, wrong script <grin>. Do come back later for the next article to learn more about “God’s Objective.”
Leave a comment to this article if you do NOT agree – OR, if you do agree! We want to hear YOUR side…