And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:24-28 ESV)
The match of the millennium was not Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. Instead, we see an actual fight of man vs. the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Picture this: Jacob is helping his family get across this stream to safety when he is jumped by this stranger. They wrestle around trying to get the upper hand. Jacob pulls this man into a headlock. He doesn’t know it yet, but he is wrestling the creator of the universe.
Question: When was the last time you wrestled with God? Who won? How did you respond to the challenge?
Talking Points: Wrestling with God is going to be a losing battle. This is especially true if we are fighting whether or not to follow in his will. Our decisions are almost always based on our circumstances or emotions. God divines a plan for us that is not based on circumstance but in love.
Jacob finally realized he was wrestling with God when the man barely touched Jacob’s hip and his hip came out of place. Jacob didn’t want to let this man go until he blessed him. The man then blessed him by giving him a new name: Israel. Israel means “God strives.” This is given to Jacob because of his strife with God.
Question: Name one other time where Jacob received a blessing that he wasn’t supposed to get.
Talking points: Jacob stole Esau’s blessing as the firstborn. Jacob was known for wanting to receive a blessing. When Jacob and Esau came out of the womb, Esau came first, but Jacob was holding onto his heel.
It is important to note what the name Israel means. Israel means “God strives.” The twelve sons of Jacob begin tribes known as the twelve tribes of Israel. As we continue to flow through the Old Testament, you will notice places where Israel “strives” with God.
God and the people of Israel, through pain and turmoil, strive for many years. It is very symbolic of the wrestling match Jacob had with Jesus. The reason being is because the people of Israel strive with God but through Jesus, they become blessed. As I think about our sins and they held him down to the cross, I think about his blessing he poured out on me: eternal life.