Jacob Wins by Losing
January 25 - Nº 25 Genesis 32
Jacob had finally broken free from the relationship that had held him hostage for more than 20 years (see Genesis 31:41). But he had another relationship that required God’s intervention. Jacob’s actions as a young man had caused his brother Esau to despise him. Esau had threatened his life, but Jacob had escaped and run hundreds of miles away to live with Laban. Now God was sending him home . . . and he was terrified! Jacob sent messengers ahead to let Esau know that he was coming. He hoped that by now God had softened Esau’s heart. But when the messengers returned, all they said was, “Your brother Esau is coming to meet you—and four hundred men are with him.” This news was not comforting. It sounded like his brother had gathered an army and was ready to destroy him. It was no wonder his mother Rebekah had never contacted him. She had promised to send Jacob word when Esau’s anger subsided (see Genesis 27:45), but he had never heard from her. Jacob’s fear grew. Resorting to old habits, he came up with his own plan. First, he divided everyone and everything he owned into two groups. That way, if Esau came after one group, the other group could escape. Then he prayed. In his prayer Jacob reminded God that He was the One who had encouraged him to return home and that He had promised to make him prosperous. He thanked God for all that He had done already and begged God to save his family. Jacob selected many goats, sheep, camels, cows, and donkeys to offer as gifts. He sent them ahead, one herd at a time, hoping they would pacify his brother. Then he sent his family and the rest of his possessions across the large Jabbok River that separated him from Esau. This would prove that he had no plans to retreat. Jacob stayed behind for a while to be alone. But he wasn’t alone. A man (who turned out to be an angel of God—perhaps Jesus himself) showed up and grabbed him. Jacob fought back, and they wrestled all night. Since Jacob would not give up, the man finally touched his thigh and dislocated his hip. Unable to fight, Jacob still wouldn’t let go. He realized that this man was a representative of God. The angel could have ended the wrestling match at any time, but he wanted Jacob to recognize and admit his weakness. God was in control—not Jacob! Jacob begged for a blessing before the man disappeared. The man changed Jacob’s name to Israel (meaning God rules), and then he blessed him. Jacob named the place Peniel (meaning God’s face). He declared, “I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” He understood that he was not the one in charge of his life and destiny. God was. It was God he had been wrestling his whole life! Jacob’s limp would always be a reminder to let God have control. Jacob had lost the wrestling match, but, in fact, he had won—by finally giving control of his life to God.
Do you struggle with control issues? Are you always figuring out ways to fix things? Have you ever felt God battling with you for control? When we wrestle with God, we cannot win until we are willing to lose. He always knows what is best for us.