Jacob had survived a dangerous encounter with Laban after being pursued like an enemy rather than chased as family. God had protected him, and it seemed that peace had been established. Laban and his militia began to return home. Jacob's faith was growing as was his confidence in the Lord but now he would face a more formidable foe in his brother Esau. Jacob could plead his innocence in his dealings with his father-in-law but what could he possibly say to his brother? His mother Rebekah was to send word to him when it was safe for him to return home and twenty years had passed with no indication that the fury of his brother Esau had subsided. Jacob was obeying God and going where he had directed him. As Jacob continues on his way, he is reassured when the angels of God met him.
Jacob sent messengers ahead in an attempt to placate Esau. However, the messengers returned without any reply except that Esau was on his way with four hundred men. Fear grips Jacob, and he is certain that his brother is out for a violent revenge. Expecting the worst, Jacob divides his camp into two groups so that one might escape an attack, he prays, organizes a substantial peace offering, and helped his family ford the Jabbok. Jacob's prayer was humble and a confession of his unworthiness and God's grace. He pleads for the Lord to deliver him from his brother Esau and reminds God of his word. He entrusted the peace offering to his servants who would travel ahead in separate droves. Jacob gave them specific instructions about what to say to Esau in the hopes that he might be appeased and not attack Jacob.
What's Your Name?
Jacob was all alone just as he had been when he left his father's house. There in the darkness amid all his fears and doubts, Jacob wrestled with a man. Jacob may have wondered if this man was with Esau but regardless of how the contest began, the battle was on and it was intense. They fought throughout the night until the angel touched Jacob's hip socket and it came out of joint. Through the tremendous pain, Jacob would not let go. He realized that he could not win and he exclaimed that he would not let go unless the angel would bless him. Hosea 12:4 asserts that he wept at this point and sought the angel's favor. The next question must have been surprising and painful. The angel asks, "What is your name?" Jacob had answered this question before when his father inquired about his identity during his deception. Submissively, Jacob tells the angel that he is a deceiver. The angel announces that Jacob has a new name to go with a new identity. Jacob had spent his entire life wrestling with God and trying to secure his blessings through his schemes, deception, and power but now he was different. Jacob saw God, repented, believed, and received the great blessing of salvation. As the sun rose the next morning, it was the genesis of a new day, a new man, and a new way of walking.
Things To Consider:
- What are some of the ways God has encouraged you during difficult times?
- How do you cope with fear?
- Have you ever prayed when you were desperate? What happened?
- Do you pray God's words to him? Why or why not?
- Have you ever wrestled with God? Why?
- Have you surrendered to God? Why or why not?
- Does your past haunt you? Why?
- How should we look at the past after Christ has saved us?
- Why do we try to avoid weakness or even the appearance of weakness?
- Do you have a spiritual mark?