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Pastor James May
The Wrestling Match!
Genesis 32:24-30, "And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."
Jacob was a deceiving human being almost from the moment of his birth. Even in birth, it seems that he had caught hold of his brother’s heel as though he wanted to be the first-born. From that point on, Jacob was constantly doing things to get the inheritance of his father through scheming and deception.
What a picture of lost humanity Jacob has given to us. Mankind has ever been trying to gain Heaven and eternal life without obedience to the Law of God. From the instant we are old enough to think for ourselves, we begin to plan and scheme to have our own way.
As we grow older the scheming only grows worse. There isn’t one of us who hasn’t tried to live for God, or not live for God, in our own way. Man has always and still is trying to find his own way to earn eternal life and to create his own gods to worship.
Jacob eventually cheated Esau out of the family birthright and had to leave home to avoid the hatred of Esau. He was sent on a journey to find a wife among the family of his uncle named Laban in the land of Mesopotamia.
For 20 years Jacob was to dwell with Laban. He wasn’t there long until he found the one that he wanted to make his wife but what Jacob didn’t count on was the deception of his future Father-in-Law.
There’s an old saying that says, “What goes around, comes around.” Now Jacob was experiencing the same deception aimed at his life that he had dealt to Esau and his father Isaac. In darkness of night, Jacob went in to his wife only to discover in the light of day that she was the wrong one. Laban had given Leah to Jacob instead of Rachel.
How many times have we heard this same sob story? How many times have we been the ones living it? Satan loves to deceive us into thinking that the things of this world are satisfying. He loves to make us think that everything is all right. He loves to let us see life through dark rose-colored glasses and lure us into a place of dark contentment.
But when we awake in the light of the Word of God, we can see clearly that it was all wrong. People without God are living in the darkness of sin and Satan has blinded them to the truth. Jesus, the Light of the World, and the church, the bearers of that light to a lost and dying world, are the only ways that man can come to really see the truth.
Jacob had finally had enough of Laban and his life in Mesopotamia. He knew that, even though Laban was his uncle and that there was some love between them, Laban was not totally trustworthy. Jacob’s goal was to get back to his father, Isaac, and to his home where he could find real love and trust. So, he left the land of Padanaram with his family, flocks, servants and all that he owned and started toward Canaan and home.
Even in his attempts to go home he was to find that the path is not always easy. There were debts to his family, especially Esau that must be paid. Also, Laban wasn’t very happy when he heard that Jacob had left with his daughters without even a goodbye.
Now Jacob had both sides of the family after him.
I have seen those who would desire to come to Christ because they are tired of the lies of Satan. I have watched as they decided, as the Holy Spirit drew them back, to return to the land of their Father in Heaven. It’s not always an easy road to travel.
Friends and family who still live under the influence of Satan will not want to let you go that easy. They will pursue a newborn Christian and all to often, they will succeed in drawing them back into the old life. I have also seen times when those in the church who should be excited about their return to Christ, would appear angry or upset over a sinner coming home because of past hurts.
God, help us to realize that we must do our best to allow the backslider to come home. Help us not to hold grudges or be angry over past mistakes but help us to forgive.
Laban caught up with Jacob after 7 days and after a tense meeting, they settled their differences and parted company.
Now Jacob had to face his real fear, the fear of what Esau would do to him. Jacob knew that he must continue onward toward home at all costs. He could only hope for the best and that Esau, his elder brother, could forgive him.
Nothing can keep us from going to Jesus if we determine to get to Him. There aren’t enough demons in hell to stop the sinner from finding Christ. There aren’t enough devils to keep the Christian from going to the Heavenly Father to ask forgiveness for sin. We have an advocate with the Father, an open invitation to walk boldly into the throne room and obtain forgiveness for sin.
Many of us have had, or now have, children in the home. Very often those children will do things that are wrong and they know its wrong. They will come slowly into the room where you are, as a parent, and be just as nice as they can be.
That’s a dead giveaway that something is up, right?
They are afraid of retribution from you for their behavior. They may be very sorry but they know that they are still guilty and know that punishment is deserved.
But we, as parents, must love them through their faults and failures. We have a moral duty and obligation under the law of love to help them and forgive them.
I wanted my kids to come to me. I wanted them to have the confidence that I would forgive them and not always punish them. I wanted them to tell the truth. I wanted our relationship to be strong and right. The problem is, they didn’t know what I wanted because their behavior had blinded them and they could only see through eyes of guilt and not mercy, grace and love.
God is not sitting upon His throne with a nightstick in His hand to hit you when you do wrong. He is sitting there with His hands of love and acceptance outstretched toward His children. His greatest desire is to see a soul come home to Christ.
We, who have failed, look upon him as our judge all to often. We don’t see Him as a loving Father when we have been disobedient. We know we must go to Him to seek forgiveness but we go expecting the worse. Jesus only wants to give us the best.
As Jacob continued toward home, he met a company of angels. It was as though they were sent to greet him and encourage him on his journey.
I believe that our Heavenly Father dispatches His holy angels to welcome us home. In fact, it has been spoken of in the Bible where angels carry the soul and spirit of those who die in the Lord on its journey to glory. The Bible also tells us that there are angels encamped around those who love the Lord. They are sent as messengers from Heaven to protect us and encourage us on our journey to our eternal home.
Jacob now hears of the approach of his brother Esau with a band of 400 men to meet him. In great agony he prepares for the worst. He feels that he must now depend only on God, and he goes to God in earnest prayer. He sends on before him a great gift to Esau in an attempt to make peace and let Esau know that he had changed.
Jacob sent his family to safety while he remained behind, spending the night in communion with God. While Jacob prayed, there appeared one in the form of a man who wrestled with him.
This was a wrestling match to end all wrestling matches. I believe that it was a great contest between the nature and fleshly desires of Jacob and the drawing of the Holy Spirit of Jacob with the ultimate possession of Jacob’s soul at stake. Along with the soul of Jacob, the entire plan of salvation for all of mankind was also at stake because Jacob was to be ancestor of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I get the same picture in my mind every time I see a sinner, or a wayward saint, stand and grip the back of a chair or bench with a white knuckled grip as the Spirit of God draws them to come to the altar to make things right. That same struggle between the desires of the flesh and the will of God is going on in the hearts of men even as we speak.
All night long they wrestled until finally the angel threw Jacobs hip out of joint to stop the match.
God knows how to get your attention. He has to bring us to the place of total surrender to His will before we can really be what God wants us to be.
We are in a spiritual war with our very soul at stake. Even in the life of a Christian, there is always a lot of wrestling with self. We must put down self- sufficiency, self-pride, self-gratification, self-recognition, self-determination and many other “self’s” in order to put on the mind of Christ and give ourselves totally to Him.
If we are to prevail in the battle against the flesh, we must never give up the fight but hold onto our faith until the “blessing” comes.
Jesus wants to give us that blessing. He wants to pour in the new wine of the Holy Spirit but we must become a clean vessel and a new vessel before we can contain it. Eternal life, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and the very presence of God in our heart and life can only be fully accomplished when we are washed in the Blood of the Lamb and made into a new creation that can hold the new wine of the Spirit.
At the end of the match, Jacob finally realized whom he had been wrestling with. It was God himself. At that moment Jacob was given a new life and a new name. The Promise of God to Abraham and the First Covenant was renewed through Jacob, now called Israel because he had prevailed over the flesh and would now prevail over the sin in his life through the power of God.
I want us to realize that our battle is not so much with man, nor is it really with Satan. Our real battle is with our own fleshly desires and our own commitment to surrender everything to Jesus.
Once we finally give up and let God have His way in our lives, that’s when Jesus can say to us that we have prevailed. When we give Him everything and Jesus becomes the center of our life and takes preeminence over everything else, that’s when we can receive a new name that is written down in glory.
That’s when the New Testament Covenant through the Blood of the Lamb is renewed within us and the promise of eternal life and an inheritance in Heaven becomes a reality.
We must finally come face to face with Jesus in repentance and recognize Him as Lord.
If there is anything in your life that is robbing you of victory, give it to Jesus. Quit wrestling and just surrender it right now.
Allow Jesus to create within you a clean heart, renew within you a right spirit and give you a new name.
Let Jesus make you into a Child of the King. An Heir and a joint Heir with Christ, and a citizen of the New Jerusalem.