Summary: The whole experience of PRAYER is not to wrestle with God over our demands, but to know the heart of the One who seek to bless us and call us to a higher purpose in life, and help us understand our utter dependence on Him for success.
This picture of Jacob wrestling with a God-man can be considered as one of the most bizarre encounter in the Bible.
• He was all alone, having sent his family and all his possessions across the stream.
• It was in the night, and he wrestled with this God-man until daybreak.
Many see him as a hero in this fight.
• He struggled on, even though he was crippled and exhausted, and overcame the resistance.
• He made his demands and succeeded in extracting what he wants from God.
At first glance, the lesson to learn is to wrestle in prayer that way Jacob did.
• Make your demands and stick to them.
• Fight on and you will prevail the same way Jacob prevailed.
• We will eventually get what we want in prayer. God will give in to you.
At a glance, it seemed that way. This is incorrect.
Think for a moment. How can this be?
• How can we ever prevail over God?
• Can man ever wrestle with God over what we want?
• If there is a true wrestling match, can man win God?
We have to ask, why there was this struggle at all.
• If God is Almighty and man feeble, why is Jacob not immediately overwhelmed?
• Does God need to cripple Jacob?
• Does a mouse wrestle with an elephant? Would an elephant even be concerned if a mouse were to strive with it?
The first thing we notice about this story is that Jacob is not the aggressor.
• He did not pick a fight with this man.
• The wording is quite clear: “Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him…” (v.24)
If a man hits you, you have 2 choices – (1) you may hit him back, (2) you may run away.
• If on the other hand, a man wrestles with you, you have no such choice.
• Whether you wish to flee or to fight back, you are obliged to wrestle on.
• You struggle either to break away from his grip, or to teach him a lesson.
Jacob did not wrestle because he chose to, but because he was drawn into it.
• He was ‘forced’ by the situation to respond in this way.
• The God-man wrestled with him and he was forced to respond.
Actually God was the One who wanted this match.
• Why did the Lord want to wrestle with Jacob?
• God wants to engage him. It was not so much God wanted it but Jacob needed it.
- It was the night before Jacob’s reunion with his brother Esau, across the stream.
- The last time Jacob saw Esau was when he had tricked him out of his birthright. Jacob wasn’t the eldest, but he wanted the blessing of his father just before he died. So he tricked him into blessing him rather than Esau.
- The result of all this is that Esau wanted to kill him - the last words he heard from Esau were “I’m going to kill you.”
- Now Esau and 400 of his men were on their way to meet him. Feeling that his only hope is to appease Esau, he sent his servants up front to present gifts.
- And then he sent his wives, children and servants. He really does not know what his brother would do.
MORE THAN THAT, God needs to deal with him.
• Jacob needs to know that God wants to bless him. He might have sought it in a cunning and unethical way, in the past but God is not respecter of persons.
• He had been such a “schemer”. His whole life was marked by getting into trouble and then running away.
• The past wrong had caused him misery, but he need not have to go on that way.
In this encounter, he was ‘forced’ through this wrestling match to turn to God and cry out: “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” (v.26)
• These are the words God has been waiting to hear from him.
• For once, he has no choice, no other hope, except to turn in the right direction.
In the wrestling he came to know that the One he was wrestling with was God.
• And that’s why he asked for His blessing.
• Heb 7:7 “And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater.”
• He would not have asked for Him to bless, if he did not recognised that He was the greater and he the lesser.
You see, God has a high calling for him.
• God said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel…” (v.28)
• He became the patriarch of the people of God, Israel.