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.
- Jacob has been obedient to God’s command, but it has led him to a scary and life threatening situation.
- Obedience will more often than not take us out of our comfort zone
- This story is one of countless in the Bible that teaches us that whilst God is good, he’s not safe!
- Our whole understanding of this passage transforms when we understand that… it is not Jacob wrestling with God to receive something……but God wrestling with Jacob to take something out
- Jacob was self reliant. He had spent his whole life believing that he could get what he thought he needed by cheating, lying and conniving.
- So many of the opportunities and comforts that we enjoy are a direct result of when and where we were born but as we’ve seen already from the life of Jacob, obedience to God and comfort don’t tend to go together!
- When we know we are weak, we recognise our need. This story is about how Jacob goes from knowing about God to knowing God. And at the ﬁrst moment that he truly knows God, he knows that he needs him.
- When Jacob thought he was wrestling a stranger, he was presumably trying to shake him off. Now he knows this is God, he is holding on and refusing to let go despite the pain.
- Jacob’s perspective shifts from — “help me get the blessing” to – “You are the blessing” and from – “my desire is for things” (food to eat, clothes to wear…) to — “only you will do”.
- God could not overpower Jacob. Does this mean that Jacob is somehow stronger than God? Or that Jacob is able to resist God? No – he breaks his hip with a ‘touch’ The word ‘touch’ here literally means the merest touch. So what’s going on?
- God holds back — he chooses not to put all of his might onto Jacob – he makes himself weak. Why? Because he wants Jacob to receive the blessing!
- Unlike Jacob – when Jesus was on the cross he bore the full weight and might of God’s anger and wrath at our sin for the same reason. Because God wants us to receive the blessing!