Wednesday, April 12, 2017

punched by an angel

Jacob wrestling
(written by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: Genesis 32:3-32
mark this: Genesis 32:27 --
"What is your name?"
Jacob was born to wrestle.
In utero, he first tried a half-nelson on his brother Esau. Upon his birth, he had poor Esau in an ankle lock. As he grew up, he found that he couldn't out muscle his brother by brute force, so, led by his personal trainer, his mom, Jacob learned how to outfox other people by schemes and deception. He wrestled away his brother's birthright. (1) He did the same with his father's blessing (2).
He then found himself in a Battle Royale with his equally conniving uncle Laban . What a match- there were all sorts of battles won by each side, involving daughters & decoys, idols & sheep. It was a dramatic and sordid tale- fit for the likes of a soap opera, or better yet, the soap opera for men- professional wrestling.
How fitting then was it, that God used an epic wrestling match to change Jacob's life?
The amazing dream and vision of the ladder at Bethel didn't do it (3).
Nor did God's abundant blessing in making him a successful shepherd.
It wasn't even God's personal message that made him a new man (4).
No, it was the old figure-four leg lock that gave Jacob a new walk and a new name. It was a wrestling injury that finally ended all the years of running and deception. It was a charlie-horse punch by an angel that finally got him on track.
Jacob is just one of a long line of those for whom it takes something severe and alarming to awaken them to God. I suppose a lot of us are on that list. But even more amazing that the turning back to God through great pain motif, is the actual line of questions that the Angel of the Lord puts Jacob through.
Put yourself in Jacob's place. You've narrowly escaped the whole ordeal with Laban that could have very much ended in bloodshed. Now you've received word that the last person in the world you want to see, Esau, is headed your way, with 400 men! You're scared witless. You decide to send three separate bribes of animals to smooth things over. You divide all your family and possessions into two groups to minimize losses if things get dicey. It is not looking good. You decide to spend the night alone to think things over. Here's what happens next:
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
Tenacious Jacob is hurt, he's fighting tooth and nail and cannot win, but he refuses to lose and clamps on to the angel like a tick. He must hold on, he must overcome. He will not cry "uncle!"
The man asked him, "What is your name?"
"Jacob," he answered.
Of all the questions in the world that the Angel could have asked Jacob, this one at first seems odd. Did the angel really need information? No.
But consider this, in the Bible, when was the last time Jacob was asked such a question? What was his response? Think back to that bit of trickery Rebekah and Jacob pulled on blind Isaac many years before. Isaac asked the same question, and "Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn (5)."
Here, we at last get the truth. Finally Jacob admits to being Jacob- a cheater, a heel grabber, a deceiver. No more games or deception to get ahead. Jacob owns up to who and what he is. AHA!!! This is the exact definition of confession! This is the exact moment of repentance!
Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
Jacob is given a new name. Jacob is given a fresh start.
God wants to do the same with each of us, and He will go to great lengths to do so.
Jacob's story is the story for all of us. The question is, am I being honest with God and myself? Can I agree with Him that I've made a mess of my life and I don't want to run from Him anymore? Because until we do so, we'
re just running in circles, playing games, and on the lam from God.
(1) Genesis 25:21-34
(2) Genesis 27:1-29
(3) Genesis 28
(4) Genesis 31:3 & 11
(5) Genesis 27:19

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