God Wrestles with Jacob [Genesis 32]
7Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies; 8for he said, "If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the company which is left will escape."
9Jacob said, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,' 10I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. 11"Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children.12"For You said, 'I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.'" 13So he spent the night there.
22Now he arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had. 24Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.25When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." 27So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." 28He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed."
29Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there. 30So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved."
Jacob finally came face to face with his fear. He began wrestling with God long before the physical wrestling match in the middle of the night. In this whole chapter, he came up with all kinds of plans to protect himself from losing everything. He was really afraid that now, after all these years of living with his guilt, God was going to give him what he had coming. "I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children."
He tried to reason with himself out of fear by remembering God's promise, "For You said, 'I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.'"
Fear had gripped him and he was a desperate man.
Thankfully, God gave Jacob the middle of the night experience where he could physically see his spiritual battle. He came away a changed man because he finally recognized that God was bigger than his fear. "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved."
Now he was ready to meet his brother and receive what God had for him. God had even given him a new name to live out. He was no longer "the deceiver" he was now God's man, with God's name mixed into his. Later we will see that at the end of his life he proclaimed, "God has been the Shepherd of my whole life."
God, You are the one who shepherds and protects us. We praise You that You are the One who conquers fear. Cause us to bring our fears to You instead of trying to take care of them ourselves. May we be willing to wrestle with You through the fear.
Thank You for your faithful love that keeps You there with us in every situation. You never leave us or forsake us.