Reading For Wednesday Genesis 32:1-32
After many years and the addition of more dysfunctional family, Jacob is headed to confront the problem of brother who wanted him dead. Along the way, Jacob was met by the angels of God. Encouraged by this encounter with the angels, Jacob sent a conciliatory message to his estranged brother. Esau was living south of the Dead Sea in the land of Seir. Surely Jacob hoped to find favor in Esau’s sight by his humble demeanor (“your servant”), and the fact that he was now a man of wealth. His messengers returned, however, with the news that Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred men. Jacob was terrified. Expecting the worst, Jacob made preparations for the confrontation with his brother. He organized his people and livestock in two groups, thinking that if Esau attacked the one, the other could perhaps escape. He prayed, thanking God for his blessings and asking God to save him from his brother. He gathered a peace offering of sizable proportions. That night Jacob helped his family ford the Jabbok.
What kind of thoughts cross your mind when you think that you are facing death and that perhaps your family was facing the same fate? What would you say to your wife knowing that it might be the last time you saw her? Do you squeeze your children a bit tighter as you tell them goodnight? This would be a long night. There in the darkness Jacob and a stranger became locked in a mighty struggle. But why did Jacob wrestle all night? God could have ended the encounter any time he wanted. All he had to do was “touch” his hip and Jacob was crippled for the rest of his life. So the length of the bout wasn’t about Jacob's strength and ability. True conversion sometimes comes only after intense wrestling with God. A new name is almost always the symbol of a new beginning. A new name symbolizes a new life. In this passage, Jacob, the deceiver, meets God, the Redeemer—and his life is completely and irreversibly changed. And, as a symbol of his new life—and of his adoption into God’s family—Jacob gets a new name: Israel.
Thing To Consider:
- What are some ways that God has encouraged you in difficult circumstances?
- Why do you think Jacob was given a limp for life?
- Why do we sometimes wait until we are facing suffering to call on the Lord?
- What can we learn from Jacob's prayer?
- What did Jacob mean when he said that he had seen God face to face?