Summary: What happens when you wrestle with God?
A Holy Wrestling Match
Have you ever wrestled with someone bigger and stronger than yourself? Needless to say, it isn’t a pleasant experience, since you are generally destined to lose. All of the tricks in the book, including trying to curl up and keep the other person from flipping you over and pinning you to the mat are pretty much useless.
On the other hand, if you have ever wrestled with your child, you probably never intentionally overpowered your child. You let him know who was boss, but you let him struggle and try and most parents would give their child a feeling of hope…that maybe, just maybe, I can beat Dad this time.
Some of us are familiar with the story of Jacob, the son of Isaac, and the grandson of Abraham. He is a twin of Esau, and had stolen his brother’s birthright through deception and cunning. His brother plotted to kill him so he fled, living with his uncle and serving his uncle for 14 years to gain the hand of the woman he loved. Now he is coming home and is approaching the land where his brother lives. He is afraid, because he believes his brother will take revenge for his deceit years earlier. The story goes to where we pick it up, where Jacob sends messengers to his brother to see if he is still angry enough to kill him.
Genesis 32:3 Jacob now sent messengers to his brother, Esau, in Edom, the land of Seir. 4He told them, "Give this message to my master Esau: ’Humble greetings from your servant Jacob! I have been living with Uncle Laban until recently, 5and now I own oxen, donkeys, sheep, goats, and many servants, both men and women. I have sent these messengers to inform you of my coming, hoping that you will be friendly to us.’"
6The messengers returned with the news that Esau was on his way to meet Jacob—with an army of four hundred men! 7Jacob was terrified at the news. He divided his household, along with the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps. 8He thought, "If Esau attacks one group, perhaps the other can escape."
9Then Jacob prayed, "O God of my grandfather Abraham and my father, Isaac—O LORD, you told me to return to my land and to my relatives, and you promised to treat me kindly. 10I am not worthy of all the faithfulness and unfailing love you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home, I owned nothing except a walking stick, and now my household fills two camps! 11O LORD, please rescue me from my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to kill me, along with my wives and children. 12But you promised to treat me kindly and to multiply my descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count."
I believe that Jacob is a desperate man.
20 years has passed since Jacob has seen his brother. Jacob is still manipulating but finds himself helpless before his now stronger brother who reportedly has an army of 400 men waiting to meet him.
He is finally brought to his knees, to pray and ask God to remember His promises to Abraham. His prayer is a prayer of desperation. It is in this time of need that he is willing to examine his life and see the need that only God can meet.
Perhaps you have come to such a place in your life. Maybe that is where you are now. You are facing ruin, perhaps sickness or financial disaster is looming over your life.
You have run out of options. You have exhausted all of your strength and ability. Nothing you have done seems to work. And now your back is against the wall. You may have asked God for help up to this point, but you really haven’t depended fully upon Him. You still had some strength left. You still had some options left. You still had some ideas. But now, nothing is left. Just you and God.
(Jump to Verse 21)
21So the presents were sent on ahead, and Jacob spent that night in the camp.
22But during the night Jacob got up and sent his two wives, two concubines, and eleven sons across the Jabbok River. 23After they were on the other side, he sent over all his possessions. 24This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until dawn. 25When the man saw that he couldn’t win the match, he struck Jacob’s hip and knocked it out of joint at the socket. 26Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is dawn." But Jacob panted, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."