This sermon was based on Genesis 32:22-32
Jacob Wrestles with God
22The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.
- An encounter with God is often one of the most defining moments of our lives.
- It may not be a big or flashy thing, but it is real, and it changes us. Perhaps you’ve had moments in your life where you’ve encountered God. Maybe you encountered him through a dream or a vision or through reading the Bible. Whatever it was you look back on that moment and think “that encounter with God has helped to define my life.”
- Jacob encounters God in a very real, unusual and powerful way – literally wrestling with Him. I think this story shows us two important things about Encountering God.
Brokenness and Blessing
- Jacob experiences Brokenness and Blessing in this encounter with God. That’s often how it goes. Often the moments that break us are the moments God uses to bless us and others through us.
- How does brokenness lead to blessing? I think it all comes down to what you cling to in your brokenness. Jacob had spent his life, up to this point, grasping for things that he thought would make him happy in life. After all the hurt and heartache in his life he’s finally grabbing onto the Lord. He’s clinging to him. He’s holding onto him in his brokenness and that’s what leads to the blessing.
- So how do we do that? How do we practically cling to God, in everyday life, like Jacob did? It all comes down to what we choose to grasp when we feel frustrated and dissatisfied in life. Recognising that ultimate satisfaction doesn’t come from the things we chase after and turning to prayer – telling God we find our satisfaction in him.
- In this Story Jacob also has a name change. As part of God’s Blessing he gives Jacob a new name: Israel. God giving Jacob this new name was a profound moment and indicated his destiny, he was going to father a great nation which would be named after him: Israel.
- And that’s what happens when we have an encounter with God, we come away with a new sense of our identity in him.
- Just like with Jacob Christians don’t choose their own identity, they’re given it by God. Jacob didn’t tell God what he wanted his new identity to be, he didn’t tell him I want to be called this, no God chose to give him his new identity. It came from God. And the same is true for us as Christians. Revelation 2 says God gives believers a new name, which speaks of our new identity as children of God that we receive through Christ. That is our primary identity and it’s not earned, but it’s bought for us through the blood of Jesus at the cross and given to us as a free gift.