Jacob the Faithful Servant
Sermon: Jacob the Faithful Servant (Genesis 32:24-32)
HOW CAN I CHANGE?
* God wants to change you more than you want to be changed
God prepares us for change (Genesis 25:26 – 32:23)
Being alone with God changes you (32:24)
Wrestling with God changes you (32:24)…..
Change can be very painful (32:25)
Don’t let go of God until he changes you (32:26)
Confession and Change go together (32:27)
Lasting change can only come from God (32:28)
The best change is to know God better and better (32:29)
A changed life results in praise and worship of God (32:30)
Our change should be evident for all others to see (32:31-32)
Other key verses in the life of Jacob
Gen.29:20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her
Heb.11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff
Sermón: Jacob el Siervo Fiel (Génesis 32:24-32)
¿COMO PUEDO CAMBIAR?
* Dios quiere cambiarte más de lo que tú quieres cambiar
Dios me prepara para cambiar (Génesis 25:26 – 32:23)
Estar a solas con Dios me cambia (32:24)
Luchando con Dios me cambia (32:24)…..
Cambiar puede ser muy doloroso (32:25)
No sueltas a Dios hasta que te cambie (32:26)
La confesión y el cambiar van juntos (32:27)
El verdadero cambio proviene de Dios (32:28)
El mejor cambio es conocer a Dios más y más (32:29)
La vida cambiada produce alabanza y adoración de Dios (32:30)
Nuestro cambió se ser evidente a los demás (32:31-32)
Otros versículos claves en la vida de Jacob
Génesis 29:20 Así que Jacob trabajó siete años para poder casarse con Raquel, pero como estaba muy enamorado de ella le pareció poco tiempo (NVI)
Hebreos 11:21 Por la fe Jacob, cuando estaba a punto de morir, bendijo a cada uno de los hijos de José, y adoró apoyándose en la punta de su bastón (NVI)
Why do you want to change?
God’s glory and honor and praise is only correct answer
What do you want to change about you?
Purpose & Goals
Other key verses in the life of Jacob
Gen.29:20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her
Heb.11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff
HOW CAN I CHANGE? (Genesis 32:24-32)
God wants to change you more than you want to be changed
Anybody can change
God prepares me for change (Genesis 25:26 – 32:23)
From a deceiver/liar to a man of faith
Gen.25:26 miraculous birth (21-26)
25:31 opportunistically buys birthright 27-34
27: 19,20,24 lies to his dad to get the blessing 1-47
28:1-7 Isaac sends him to Padan Aram to get a wife
28: 20-22 Jacob contact with God [dream at Bethel] (10-21) and “contract” with God
29:1-14 Jacob arrives in Paddam Aram and meets Rachel and her family
29:25 Jacob deceived as he marries Leah and Rachel 15-30
29:31- 30:24 Jacob’s children via his Leah (Zilpah) and Rachel (Bilhah)
30:25-43 Jacob’s flocks increase
31:3 God tells Jacob to go back to Canaan
31:7,41 Laban cheats Jacob 10 times
31:20,26,27 Jacob deceives Laban about running away
31:19,30,34,35,36,37 Rebekah steals her father Laban’s gods and “deceives” Jacob
32:1-23 Jacob prepares to meet Esau after 20 years.
The angels meet him (1-2);
He sends messengers to Esau to find his favor (3-5);
The messenger return with news of Esau and his 400 men approaching (6)
Out of fear he divides into two groups in case Esau attacks the other group can escape (7-8)
Jacob prays and reminds Him that it was at God’s command he is coming back (9-10)
He asks for God to save him from Esau’s presumed attack (11)
He reminds God of his covenant promises to increase his descendents (12);
He plans to pacify Esau by sending a gift of 5 herds of goats, rams, camels, cows/bulls, donkeys to his brother with message emphasizing Jacob is Esau’s servant (13-20);
Jacob spends the night waiting (21)
During the night he crosses the Jabbok river with his wives and kids and possessions (22-23)
Probably left them and crossed back over (v.31)
all the servants of God should be wrestlers
Being alone with God changes me (32:24)
Jesus alone with his Father (Mk.1:35)…cf Garden of Gethsemane
Wrestling with God changes me (32:24)
*God initiated the wrestling match!!!!.....God surprised Jacob
* The match was intense and long….......God vs. 97 yr old Jacob
* God disguises himself for the match as “a man” He anticipated an enemy in Esau and was terrified of him. But God? God was no enemy.
Wrestle with Self (Ps.13:2) How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Wrestling with the Devil – (Eph.6:12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places
Wrestling for others (Col.4:2) Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured
Change can be very painful (32:25)….but it’s worse if we don’t change
Wrestling w/ God is painful (God doesn’t use a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply)
When God cause us pain, it is always because he loves us
God doesn’t play “fair” ….he doesn’t play by our rules……he uses suffering & pain
God allows you to win the battle for change
Don’t let go of God until he blesses you (32:26)
What kind of blessing did he want?......(@ Esau? …....,..$$$......... Covenant Promises?)
Cananite mom w/ demon possessed daughter (Mt.15:21-28; Mk.7:24-30)
Confession and Change go hand in hand (32:27)
Confess your sins ….. Be honest about your sins… the last x he was asked that ?, he told a lie
Before you can move forward you have to deal with your past
Lasting change can only come from God (32:28)
God pronounced the change…it was immediate and would be lasting
His struggles with man: ….his brother, his father, his wifes, his fr-in-law
By God’s grace with are changed …..Jacob had done nothing to merit this blessing!!!!
Jn.1:42 Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called
Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
The best change is to know God better and better (32:29)
Hosea 12:3 …as a man he struggled w/ God. 4 He struggled w/ the angel & overcame him; he wept & begged for his favor. He found him at Bethel & talked with him there 5 the Lord God Almighty, the Lord is his name of renown!
A changed life results in praise and worship of God (32:30)
He proclaims God’s mercy in dealing with him…..20 years after Bethel came Peniel
My change should be evident for all to see (32:31-32)
Limping was visible reminder of God humbling his servant
His change affected the lives of others
Tozer: The Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him.”
35:9-12 God repeats his change of name to Israel & reaffirms his covenant promises
First ref to name change was more on a personal level, this one has national implications
9 After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”
Arthur W. Pink: “Jacob was not wrestling with this Man to obtain a blessing[;] instead, the Man was wrestling with Jacob to gain some object from him. —it was to reduce Jacob to a sense of his nothingness, to cause him to see what a poor, helpless and worthless creature he was; it was to teach us through him the all important lesson that in recognized weakness lies our strength.” Have you ever had God wrestle with you—when you have wanted your way or were persisting in some course that you knew displeased him?
JACOB AFTER HIS ENCOUNTER WITH GOD
33:14,17,18 Jacob deceives his brother Esau after his reconciliation encounter w/ him (33:1-20)
34:13 his sons Simeon and Levi deceive Shechem and his father Hamor when Jacob fails to take action when his daughter Dina is raped by Shechem, so his son Simeon & Levi take vengeance
35:1-7 God tells Jacob to return to Bethel & build an altar and Jacob rids his people of their gods
35:8-15 God reaffirms the covenant promises to Jacob and repeats his change of name to Israel
First ref to name change was more on a personal level, this one has national implications
35:16-21 *Death of his wife Rachel
35:22 *Rueben his firstborn sleeps with his concubine Bilhah
35:27-29 *Death of his father Isaac
36:6 Esau moves away from Jacob to Seir due to increasing herds
37:33-35 Jacob is deceived by his sons to believe Joseph was killed
42:1-2 Jacob sends his sons (except Benjamin) to Egypt to get grain
45:25-27 Jacob finds out Joseph is alive in Egypt
46:1-27 *God speaks to Isaac and calms his fears about leaving Beersheba to live in Egypt
46:28-30 *Jacob is reunited with Joseph
47:28-31 *Jacob lives 17 yrs in Egypt and by faith asks Joseph to take his body back
48:1-22 *Jacob repeats the covenant promises (3-4) and blesses Ephraim (younger) and Manesseh (older) and then blesses Joseph (15-16) and by faith says Joseph will go back to the promised land (21-22)
49:1-28 *Jacob blesses his 12 sons (Rueben, Simeon & Levi, Judah, Zebulun; Issachar, Dan, Gad, sher, Naphtali, Joseph, Benjamin)
49:29-33 Death of Jacob
1Cor.6:9-11 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
24: “so Jacob was left alone” = Why did Jacob get alone? only him and God.
“a man” = who is he? Where did he come from?
“wrestled with him” = literal……Why did he “attack” Jacob?
“till daybreak” = 6-8 hours of wrestling!!! No breaks…..
25: “when the man saw he could not overpower him = due to the man’s lack of strength/power or due to Jacob’s strength and wrestling ability? Or due to God’s sovereign design
“he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man”
….so apparently he resorted to some unused power or injure Jacob….but the match wasn’t over
….no victor had been declared yet
26:Then “the man” = again an emphasize on his hidden identity
Then the man said, “let me go” = apparently Jacob had the upper hand in the wrestling match
“for it is daybreak” = why the need to settle this before the light of day? What was the significance of all this happening during the night?
“but” = Jacob’s conditions of victory
“but Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” = the greater always blessed the lesser, thefore Jacob knew this man was no ordinary man, that he was probably an anger or greater.
“bless me” = what kind of blessing was Jacob asking for?
27:What is your name? = why did the man what to know this? Did he already know Jacob’s name?
“Jacob” he answered = “supplanter”, “he grasps the heel’ figuratively “he deceives” el que toma por el calcañar o el que suplanta. He was confessing his character!
28:Then the man said, Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel = “he struggles with God / el que lucha con Dios
“because you have struggled with God = by this the man identifies himself. See Hosea 2
This is the first time that there is a direct reference in Jabob’s life of his relationship with God
“and with men” = Jacob had struggled with his brother Esau, struggled with father Isaac and struggled with Laban
“and have overcome” = up to now he had overcome men by his lies, manipulation, etc
29:Jacob said, “Please tell me your name” = why did he want to know his name? What does his name have to do with the requested blessing?
But he replied, “why do you ask me my name?” = What kind of answer was the man soliciting from Jacob? The angel knew why Jacob asked it.
“then he blessed him there” = how? What did he do to bless him? Jacob didn’t specify what kind of blessing he wanted…or did he?
30: “So Jacob called the place Peniel” = which means “face of God”. Apparently Jacob concluded he had just met God face to face
Saying, it is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared = he knew that to see God face to face was to die due to God’s holiness. He now knew the man’s identity.
31:The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip = this proves the wrestling match was literal. Why was he left with a permanent limp? What does it symbolize?
32:Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon = a memorial of the event
32:22-25. Before Jacob could cross the Jabbok River after his family, servants, and possessions. . . . a Man attacked and fought with him. No details of the fight were given, for it was just the preamble to the most important part, the dialogue. Yet the fight was real and physical. The word ’îš (“a Man”) reveals nothing about His identity. But this is fitting, for the “Man” later refused to reveal Himself directly (v. 29). The fact that the match lasted till daybreak is significant. For the darkness symbolized Jacob’s situation. Fear and uncertainty seized him. If Jacob had perceived that he was to fight God, he would never have engaged in the fight, let alone have continued all night. On the other hand the fact that the wrestling lasted till daybreak suggests a long, decisive bout. In fact the Assailant did not defeat Jacob till He resorted to something extraordinary. At last the Assailant touched Jacob so that his hip went out of joint. The point is clear: the Assailant gave Himself the advantage. Jacob, the deceitful fighter, was crippled by a supernatural blow. In a word, like so many of his rivals, Jacob now encountered Someone he could not defeat. 32:26-29. Nevertheless, though crippled and unable to win, Jacob clung to his Assailant for a blessing. Then both the identity of the Assailant and the significance of the fight dawned on Jacob. Once he realized who his Assailant was (v. 28) Jacob held on resolutely, pleading for a blessing. It is significant that in response to Jacob’s request for a blessing the Man asked . . . What is your name? When one remembers that in the Old Testament one’s name is linked to his nature, the point becomes clear: Jacob’s pattern of life had to be radically changed! In saying his name, Jacob had to reveal his whole nature. Here the “heel-catcher” was caught, and had to confess his true nature before he could be blessed. The blessing took the form of a new name—Israel. This name probably means “God fights,” as the popular etymology signifies. The explanation was then given that Jacob had fought with God and with men. It is easy to comprehend his having fought with men but that he fought “with God” is more difficult to understand. Throughout Jacob’s entire life he had been dragging God’s blessing out under all circumstances for his own use, under “his own steam.” He was too self-willed and too proud to let the blessing be given to him. So “God fights” was now his name. This meant, first, that God chose, because of the patriarch’s stubbornness and pride, to fight against him. Second, it meant that God would fight for Israel. Jacob’s new name would remind him and others of this fight in which he had overcome. These words were full of hope to the Israelites. If one could contend successfully with God, he could then win the battle with man. Thus the name “God fights” and the explanation that Jacob had “overcome” obtained the significance of a promise for the nation’s forthcoming struggles.
*32:22–32 This unique, nightlong wrestling match at Peniel ends with the 97 year old Jacob having a change of name (v. 28) and the place having a new name assigned to it (v. 30) in order to memorialize it for Jacob and later generations. The limp with which he emerged from the match (vv. 25,31) also served to memorialize this event. 32:22 Jabbok. A stream, 60–65 mi. long, E of the Jordan which flows into that river midway between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea (45 mi. S of the Sea of Galilee). 32:24 a Man wrestled. The site name, Peniel, or “face of God,” given by Jacob (v. 30) and the commentary given by Hosea Hosea 12:2 The Lord has a charge to bring against Judah; he will punish Jacob according to his ways and repay him according to his deeds. 3 In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel; as a man he struggled with God. 4 He struggled with the angel and overcame him; he wept and begged for his favor. He found him at Bethel and talked with him there— 5 the Lord God Almighty,
the Lord is his name of renown!
(Hos. 12:4 identifies this Man with whom Jacob wrestled as the Angel of the Lord who is also identified as God, a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. See Ex. 3:2.32:28 no longer … Jacob, but Israel. Jacob’s personal name changed from one meaning “heel-catcher” or “deceiver” to one meaning “God’s fighter” or “he struggles with God” (35:10). The marginal reading “Prince with God” is not preferred. with God and with men. An amazing evaluation of what Jacob had accomplished, emerging victorious from the struggle. In the record of his life, “struggle” did indeed dominate: 1) with his brother Esau (chaps. 25–27); 2) with his father (chap. 27); 3) with his father-in-law (chaps. 29–31); 4) with his wives (chap. 30); and 5) with God at Peniel (v. 28)
*32:24 Jacob had been struggling all his life; even at the moment of his birth he was struggling with Esau (25:26). Later he struggled with Laban (ch. 31). Yet right before meeting Esau, Jacob had the struggle of his life! He who had once grasped his brother’s heel now clung to the bodily form of the living God. Some believe that the Man who wrestled Jacob was the preincarnate Jesus Christ. Others believe the Man was the Angel of God (Gen. 21:17; 31:11). In any case, Jacob wrestled with a manifestation of God (v. 28–30), and because of God’s mercy he survived. 25, 26 He did not prevail: The Man could not turn Jacob away from the struggle—even though He could have easily defeated Jacob. This Hebrew verb translated touched refers to God’s special touch—as when God touches the earth (Amos 9:5) or the human heart (1 Sam. 10:26). Here, God’s touch caused pain (Josh. 9:19; 2 Sam. 14:10). Yet Jacob would not give up. He would not release the Man until he received a blessing. 28 God had burst into Jacob’s life, had given him the sure promises that were given to Abraham (28:13–15), and now—following a night-long struggle with him—He gave him a new name. The name Israel can mean “Prince with God,” or perhaps it carries the idea of struggling or persisting, as the wordplay in this passage implies. 29 Jacob asks for the Man’s name because Jacob had given his name. The Man does not answer. But Jacob might have developed his own name for the Man who had wrestled with him: “The Mighty God of Jacob” (49:24). God would one day reveal His name more fully to Moses (Ex. 3:14, 15). 31 Jacob’s experience with God physically changed him—he limped. The experience also had a spiritual impact on his life. 32 to this day: As always in Genesis, this phrase means the day of the first readers of the book. The Jewish rule against eating this muscle continues into modern times within Judaism.
*22–30 Jacob’s struggle with the Man, while physical, was a spiritual confrontation with God (see Hos. 12:2–4). His name change from Jacob (“Deceitful”) to Israel (“Prince with God”) depicts an inner spiritual change. He was now ready, come what may, to meet Esau. Jacob’s experience of God had a two-stage development: first at Bethel (28:10–22) and now 20 years later at Peniel. 27 To voluntarily tell an opponent your personal name was to surrender to him; in the case of Jacob, whose name means “Supplanter” or “Deceitful” (27:36), it was also to confess a deep character flaw. 28 Israel probably has a double meaning, connoting “Wrestler with God,” as well as “Prince with God.” Wrestling (Gen. 32:22–32) It was dangerous to ford the river at night, but Jacob would rather hazard the crossing than risk losing his loved ones; so he moved his family to what he hoped was a safe place. Having forgotten about God’s army, he wanted something between his family and his brother’s army. Jacob devised his own “two camps.” Now Jacob was left alone, and when we’re alone and at the end of our resources, then God can come to us and do something in us and for us. Note the three encounters Jacob experienced that difficult night. Jacob met the Lord (vv. 22–26). British essayist Walter Savage Landor called solitude “the audience-chamber of God,” and he was right. When we’re alone, we can’t escape into other people’s hearts and minds and be distracted; we have to live with ourselves and face ourselves. Twenty years before, Jacob had met the Lord when he was alone at Bethel; and now God graciously came to him again in his hour of need (28,30; Hosea 12:2–6). God meets us at whatever level He finds us in order to lift us to where He wants us to be. To Abraham the pilgrim, God came as a traveler (Gen. 18); and to Joshua the general, He came as a soldier (Josh. 5:13–15). Jacob had spent most of his adult life wrestling with people—Esau, Isaac, Laban, and even his wives—so God came to him as a wrestler. “With the pure You will show Yourself pure; and with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd” (Ps. 18:26). At Bethel, God had promised to bless Jacob; and from a material point of view, the promise was fulfilled, for Jacob was now a very wealthy man. But there’s much more to the blessing of God than flocks, herds, and servants; there’s also the matter of godly character and spiritual influence. During that “dark night of the soul,” Jacob discovered that he’d spent his life fighting God and resisting His will, and that the only way to victory was through surrender. As A.W. Tozer said, “The Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him.” God conquered Jacob by weakening him.
Jacob met himself (vv. 27–32). More than anything else, Jacob wanted the blessing of the Lord on his life; and for this holy desire, he’s to be commended. But before we can begin to be like the Lord, we have to face ourselves and admit what we are in ourselves. That’s why the Lord asked him, “What is your name?” As far as the Genesis record is concerned, the last time Jacob was asked that question, he told a lie! His father asked, “Who are you, my son?” and Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn” (27:18–19) The Lord didn’t ask the question in order to get information, because He certainly knew Jacob’s name and that Jacob had the reputation of being a schemer and a deceiver. “What is your name?” meant, “Are you going to continue living up to your name, deceiving yourself and others; or will you admit what you are and let Me change you?” In the Bible, receiving a new name signifies making a new beginning (17:4–5, 15; Num. 13:16; John 1:40–42), and this was Jacob’s opportunity to make a fresh start in life. The new name God gave him was “Israel,” from a Hebrew word that means “to struggle”; but scholars aren’t agreed on what the name signifies. Some translate it “one who wrestles with God” or “God strives” or “let God rule.” The explanation in Genesis 32:28 is that Jacob had gained power because he prevailed. He lost the battle but won the victory! By seeking God’s blessing and finally being weakened and forced to yield, he had become a “God-empowered prince.” Like Paul, who had his own battle to fight, Jacob became strong only when he became weak (2 Cor. 12:1–10). G. Campbell Morgan called Jacob’s experience “the crippling that crowns” and interpreted “Israel” to mean “a God-mastered man.” I’m inclined to agree with him. When God rules our lives, then He can trust us with His power; for only those who are under His authority have the right to exercise His authority. While at home, Jacob had served himself and created problems; and for twenty years he served Laban and created further problems, but now he would serve God and become a part of the answer. Once again Jacob gave a special name to a significant place, this time Peniel [Penuel, Gen. 32:31], which means “the face of God.” He thought that seeing God’s face would bring death, but it actually brought him new life. It was the dawning of a new day for Israel/Jacob (v. 31): He had a new name; he had a new walk (he was limping); and he had a new relationship with God that would help him face and solve any problem, if only he would exercise faith. The great test was about to come, for Esau had arrived on the scene. Now Jacob was ready for the third encounter: to meet Esau.
*Only then does Jacob realize he has been fighting God. It wasn’t a dream. He has a permanent limp to prove it. So Jacob comes of age. This is the supreme crisis of his life, as he struggles with Esau and God, past and future, fear and faith. He wins through to a new identity and peace. In the morning Esau appears, galloping towards them with 400 men. As Jacob prepares for death, Esau runs forward — and hugs him! Jacob is overwhelmed. His new-found peace with God is echoed in his reconciliation with his brother. Jacob and his family settle at Shechem in Canaan — a day’s journey from Bethel, where his long journey of faith began.
*24. There wrestled a man with him. Although this vision was particularly useful to Jacob himself, to teach him beforehand that many conflicts awaited him, and that he might certainly conclude that he should be the conqueror in them all; there is yet not the least doubt that the Lord exhibited, in his person, a specimen of the temptations — common to all his people — which await them, and must be constantly submitted to, in this transitory life. Wherefore it is right to keep in view this designs of the vision, which is to represent all the servants of God in this world as wrestlers; because the Lord exercises them with various kinds of conflicts. Moreover, it is not said that not Satan, or any mortal man, wrestled with Jacob, but God himself: to teach us that our faith is tried by him; and whenever we are tempted, our business is truly with him, not only because we fight under his auspices, but because he, as an antagonist, descends into the arena to try our strength. This, though at first sight it seems absurd, experience and reason teaches us to be true. For as all prosperity flows from his goodness, so adversity is either the rod with which he corrects our sins, or the test of our faith and patience. And since there is no kind of temptations by which God does not try his faithful people, the similitude is very suitable, which represents him as coming, hand to hand, to combat with them. Therefore, what was once exhibited under a visible form to our father Jacob, is daily fulfilled in the individual members of the Church; namely, that, in their temptations, it is necessary for them to wrestle with God. He is said, indeed, to tempt us in a different manner from Satan; but because he alone is the Author of our crosses and afflictions, and he alone creates light and darkness, (as is declared in Isaiah,) he is said to tempt us when he makes a trial of our faith. But the question now occurs, Who is able to stand against an Antagonist, at whose breath alone all flesh perishes and vanishes away, at whose look the mountains melt, at whose word or beck the whole world is shaken to pieces, and therefore to attempt the least contest with him would be insane temerity? But it is easy to untie the knot. For we do not fight against him, except by his own power, and with his own weapons; for he, having challenged us to this contest, at the same time furnishes us with means of resistance, so that he both fights against us and for us. In short, such is his apportioning of it is conflict, that, while he assails us with one hand, he defends us with the other; yea, inasmuch as he supplies us with more strength to resist than he employs in opposing us, we may truly and properly say, that he fights against us with his left hand, and for us with his right hand. For while he lightly opposes us, he supplies invincible strength whereby we overcome. It is true he remains at perfect unity with himself: but the double method in which he deals with us cannot be otherwise expressed, than that in striking us with a human rod, he does not put forth his full strength in the temptation; but that in granting the victory to our faith, he becomes in us stronger than the power by which he opposes us. And although these forms of expression are harsh, yet their harshness will be easily mitigated in practice. For if temptations are contests, (and we know that they are not accidental, but are divinely appointed for us,) it follows hence, that God acts in the character of an antagonist, and on this the rest depends; namely, that in the temptation itself he appears to be weak against us, that he may conquer in us. Some restrict this to one kind of temptation only, where God openly and avowedly manifests himself as our adversary, as if armed for our destruction. And truly, I confess, that this differs from common conflicts, and requires, beyond all others, a rare, and even heroic strength. Yet I include willingly every kind of conflict in which God exercises the faithful: since in all they have God for an antagonist, although he may not openly proclaim himself hostile unto them. That Moses here calls him a man whom a little after he declares to have been God, is a sufficiently usual form of speech. For since God appeared under the form of a man, the name is thence assumed; just as, because of the visible symbol, the Spirit is called a dove; and, in turn, the name of the Spirit is transferred to the dove. That this disclosure was not sooner made to the holy man, I understand to be for this reason, because God had resolved to call him, as a soldier, robust and skillful in war, to more severe contests. For as raw recruits are spared, and young oxen are not immediately yoked to the plough; so the Lord more gently exercises his own people, until, having gathered strength, they become more inured to toil. Jacob, therefore, having been accustomed to bear sufferings, is now led forth to real war. Perhaps also, the Lord had reference to the conflict which was then approaching. But I think Jacob was admonished, at his very entrance on the promised land, that he was not there to expect a tranquil life for himself. For his return to his own country might seem to be a kind of release; and thus Jacob, like a soldier who had kept his term of service, would have given himself up to repose. Wherefore it was highly necessary for him to be taught what his future conditions should be. We, also, are to learn from him, that we must fight during the whole course of our life; lest any one, promising himself rest, should wilfully deceive himself. And this admonition is very needful for us; for we see how prone we are to sloth. Whence it arises, that we shall not only be thinking of a truce in perpetual war; but also of peace in the heat of the conflict, unless the Lord rouse us. 25. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him. Here is described to us the victory of Jacob, which, however, was not gained without a wound. In saying that the wrestling angel, or God, wished to retire from the contest, because he saw he should not prevail, Moses speaks after the manner of men. For we know that God, when he descends from his majesty to us, is wont to transfer the properties of human nature to himself. The Lord knew with certainty the event of the contest, before he came down to engage in it; he had even already determined what he would do: but his knowledge is here put for the experience of the thing itself. He touched the hollow of his thigh. Though Jacob gains the victory; yet the angel strikes him on the thigh, from which cause he was lame even to the end of his life. And although the vision was by night, yet the Lord designed this mark of it to continue through all his days, that it might thence appear not to have been a vain dream. Moreover, by this sign it is made manifest to all the faithful, that they can come forth conquerors in their temptations, only by being injured and wounded in the conflict. For we know that the strength of God is made perfect in our weakness, in order that our exaltation may be joined with humility; for if our own strength remained entire, and there were no injury or dislocation produced, immediately the flesh would become haughty, and we should forget that we had conquered by the help of God. But the wound received, and the weakness which follows it, compel us to be modest. 26. Let me go. God concedes the praise of victory to his servant, and is ready to depart, as if unequal to him in strength: not because a truce was needed by him, to whom it belongs to grant a truce or peace whenever he pleases; but that Jacob might rejoice over the grace afforded to him. A wonderful method of triumphing; where the Lord, to whose power all praise is entirely due, yet chooses that feeble man shall excel as a conqueror, and thus raises him on high with special eulogy. At the same time he commends the invincible perseverance of Jacob, who, having endured a long and severe conflict, still strenuously maintains his ground. And certainly we adopt a proper mode of contending, when we never grow weary, till the Lord recedes of his own accord. We are, indeed, permitted to ask him to consider our infirmity, and, according to his paternal indulgence, to spare the tender and the weak: we may even groan under our burden, and desire the termination of our contests; nevertheless, in the meantime, we must beware lest our minds should become relaxed or faint; and rather endeavor, with collected mind and strength, to persist unwearied in the conflict. The reason which the angel assigns, namely, that the day breaketh, is to this effect, that Jacob may now that he has been divinely taught by the nocturnal vision. I will not let thee go, except. Hence it appears, that at length the holy man knew his antagonist; for this prayer, in which he asks to be blessed, is no common prayer. The inferior is blessed by the greater; and therefore it is the property of God alone to bless us. Truly the father of Jacob did not otherwise bless him, than by divine command, as one who represented the person of God. A similar office also was imposed on the priests under the law, that, as ministers and expositors of divine grace, they might bless the people. Jacob knew, then, that the combatant with whom he had wrestled was God; because he desires a blessing from him, which it was not lawful simply to ask from mortal man. So, in my judgment, ought the place in Hosea (Hosea 12:3) to be understood, Jacob prevailed over the angel, and was strengthened; he wept, and made supplication to him. For the Prophet means, that after Jacob had come off conqueror, he was yet a suppliant before God, and prayed with tears. Moreover, this passage teaches us always to expect the blessing of God, although we may have experienced his presence to be harsh and grievous, even to the disjointing of our members. For it is far better for the sons of God to be blessed, though mutilated and half destroyed, than to desire that peace in which they shall fall asleep, or than they should withdraw themselves from the presence of God, so as to turn away from his command, that they may riot with the wicked. 28. Thy name shall be called no more Jacob. Jacob, as we have seen, received his name from his mother’s womb, because he had seized the heel of his brother’s foot, and had attempted to hold him back. God now gives him a new and more honorable name; not that he may entirely abolish the other, which was a token of memorable grace, but that he may testify a still higher progress of his grace. Therefore, of the two names the second is preferred to the former, as being more honorable. The name is derived from sarah) or (sur,) which signifies to rule, as if he were called a Prince of God: for I have said, a little before, that God had transferred the praise of his own strength to Jacob, for the purpose of triumphing in his person. The explanation of the name which is immediately annexed, is thus given literally by Moses, “Because thou hast ruled with,
....*There is no more moving episode in the life of Jacob than his wrestling with God at the Jabbok the night before he was to meet Esau. Besides, it is terrifying. The thing to note is that Jacob was wrestling with God and that, in this incident at least, God was his adversary. Until now this possibility had not entered Jacob’s mind. He had possessed an enemy in Laban. He anticipated an enemy in Esau and was terrified of him. But God? God was no enemy. God was a benign, friendly, heavenly father-figure to whom he could turn when things got rough but ignore when he wanted to order his own life and formulate his own plans. There was nothing to fear from God. How wrong Jacob was! He had been using God all this while. Now he would discover to his horror that God will not be so used indefinitely. He would discover that, as a student once said in reference to C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, “Aslan is no tame lion.” This incident was so significant in Jacob’s life that one of my friends regards it as the moment the patriarch became a true child of God. He believes that up to this time Jacob was no true child of God and that it was only after this traumatic battle with God that Jacob can be said to have been born again. I believe that Jacob was God’s man prior to this and had merely been living an undisciplined and disobedient life. But I see the force of the argument. For whether born again on this occasion or not, Jacob was certainly changed profoundly by this experience. As we study this passage, the crucial question is whether each of us has been similarly changed. If we have not, what must happen for us to become the kind of person Jacob became through this experience? Alone and Trembling We see Jacob in a number of postures in these verses, and the first is not flattering. He is trembling. This is the point where we left him at the end of our last chapter. Jacob had been afraid of his brother Esau all along, but when he learned that Esau was coming toward him with four hundred men, he was more terrified than he had ever been in his life. Esau was not hostile. But Jacob did not know that. To him, four hundred men were a great army, and he was convinced that Esau was coming to extract vengeance for the way he had cheated him out of his father’s blessing years before. He divided his company into two parts: “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape” (Gen. 32:8). Then he hit upon the plan of appeasing his brother with gifts. So he sent his possessions across the plain toward Esau. He sent two hundred female goats, twenty male goats, two hundred ewes, twenty rams, thirty female camels with their young, forty cows, ten bulls, twenty female donkeys, and ten male donkeys. Each of these was in a group by itself, accompanied by a servant who was to offer them to Esau, saying, “They are a gift sent to my lord Esau” (v. 18). Jacob thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me” (v. 20). It is interesting that Jacob said, “Perhaps he will receive me.” For, of course, he could not be sure that his plan would work. In spite of his conniving, he was still terrified. The previous verses ended by saying that Jacob spent that night in the camp. What a terrible night! How fearfully he must have awaited the morning hours! Verses 22–23 give a further clue to Jacob’s state of mind: “That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions.” These possessions must refer to his personal property and remaining livestock, not to the flocks that had already been sent ahead as a pacifying gift for Esau. The picture here is of a restless and agitated man. Nights are dark in the desert. No work is done at night. But Jacob was so fearful of his anticipated meeting with Esau that he could not sleep. He had to do something. So he got up, roused his household, and then moved them all across the Jabbok. Probably he kept pacing back and forth with nervous activity. Finally—although the passage does not say so explicitly—he went back across the stream and awaited the morning. The chapter says, “So Jacob was left alone” (v. 24). This is good. For the first time, Jacob is not among the distracting demands of his encampment. He is quiet. The night is hushed. Jacob looks backward, forward, to the right, the left. He looks upward toward the stars.…The Heavenly Wrestler Suddenly, out of the darkness, a hand seized Jacob. What a frightful moment! Who was this? Was it a wandering bandit who might be expected to murder him for the sake of his clothing, staff, or sandals? Was it an assassin sent ahead by the furious Esau to kill him? In a moment, Jacob found himself in hand-to-hand combat, wrestling grimly as if his life depended on the outcome. Who was this individual whom the text in Genesis simply calls “a man”? In Hosea 12:4, a later inspired commentary on this passage, he is called “the angel.” But even this does not give the whole picture, unless we recognize that “the angel” is not just any angel but “the angel of the Lord,” whom we have already seen on other occasions. Presumably it was this figure who appeared to Abraham as he sat under the great trees of Mamre (Genesis 18). On that occasion there were three figures, two of whom seem actually to have been angels, while the third (who spoke to Abraham) seems to have been God himself in some form. We are alerted to this at the beginning of the passage, where we are told: “The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day” (Gen. 18:1). Most scholars consider this figure a preincarnate manifestation of the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. What is most significant about this text is that the man (Jesus) is said to have wrestled “with Jacob” and not that Jacob wrestled with the man, which would be the wrong way around. This is important for understanding the passage. We must not think—as many commentators have suggested—that this passage is primarily an encouragement to what we would call prevailing prayer. It is not that Jacob was seeking God so earnestly that when God, as it were, got close to him, he grappled with him and refused to let him go until he blessed him. It is true that Jacob later begged for a blessing. But at the beginning it is not Jacob who seeks God to wrestle with him; rather, it is God, who comes to wrestle with Jacob to bring him to a point of both physical and spiritual submission. Arthur W. Pink writes, “Jacob was not wrestling with this Man to obtain a blessing[;] instead, the Man was wrestling with Jacob to gain some object from him. As to what this object is the best of the commentators are agreed—it was to reduce Jacob to a sense of his nothingness, to cause him to see what a poor, helpless and worthless creature he was; it was to teach us through him the all important lesson that in recognized weakness lies our strength.” Have you ever had God wrestle with you—when you have wanted your way or were persisting in some course that you knew displeased him? I imagine you have, since most of us have fought with God at some period of our Christian experience. If you have had that experience, then you can easily understand two of the details that follow. First, the man wrestled with Jacob “till daybreak” (v. 24). From dusk till daybreak! That is a long time, and, frankly, I do not know how Jacob managed to keep up the struggle that long. Years ago, when I was in high school and in better physical shape than I am in now, I spent several winters on the varsity wrestling team. I wrestled at 138 pounds. Wrestling matches lasted only six minutes. There were three periods of two minutes each, and the entire contest consisted of about ten of these six-minute matches. Six minutes! That seems hardly any time at all. Yet so intense is wrestling that I found myself more exhausted at the end of those six minutes (if the match lasted that long) than after an entire game of football. How did Jacob ever manage to keep up his struggle throughout the entire night? I do not know. But I do know that his determination to hang in there was no greater than our frequent determination to have our own way and eventually win out over God. Is this not the way sin is? Sin hangs on. It refuses to give up. This is one reason why God must sometimes become our fierce antagonist to overpower self and destroy sin’s power. The second detail of the passage that I think we can readily understand because of our own willfulness is God’s touching Jacob so that “his hip was wrenched as he wrestled” (v. 25). Because I think we do understand this I want to make one observation; even so, I hesitate, lest I be misunderstood. What I want to say is: God does not play fair. Now, please, when I say “God does not play fair,” I do not mean that God ever does anything that is sinful or unjust. The Lord of all the universe does right. He is perfection itself. What I mean is: God does not play by our rules, and he never loses. He is the sovereign God. His will is done. So, whether we like the way he plays or not, God always wins the contest. If we are smart, we recognize this early and submit to it. Have you never had your life put out of joint by God? Have you never had your own little plans dislocated? Of course you have. You were trying to do something contrary to God’s will, and suddenly, out of the blue, God used sickness or a loss of a job or some severe setback or a disappointment to bring you to the end of yourself and turn you to him. I do not suggest that every sickness, loss, or disappointment comes because we are out of the will of God. God sometimes has other purposes with these things. But sometimes—sometimes quite often—he uses them to bring us to our senses. Clings My Soul We have seen Jacob trembling and wrestling. In the third place, we see him clinging to the one who has triumphed over him. By now the change has taken place, and we see a totally different Jacob. At first, Jacob is wrestling in his own strength for his own way. Later, Jacob’s strength is broken, and he is simply clinging to Christ for his blessing. “Helpless, lame, and ready to fall, he can but cling with desperate tenacity to the very Being who has so sorely smitten him.” What do you think about this picture of Jacob as he clings desperately to the angel? Does it seem pitiful? Does Jacob seem to be a loser now, a weakling? If so, you have not progressed far in spiritual things. This is not a sad picture. It is a picture of a man now remade in God’s image, surrendered to the will of God. It is a picture of faith. I have been helped at this point by the studies of Robert Candlish, who begins with Jacob’s discovery, made during the contest, that he was not wrestling with a mere man but with God. Who then can this mysterious adversary be …? Can it be a secret emissary of Esau’s—a hired bravo or assassin, or one of his followers bent on carrying that old threat into execution—“I will slay my brother Jacob”? No. That is not Esau’s mode of warfare. Is it Esau’s guardian angel interposing to prevent any injury being done to him? So the later Jews have fabled; but no such belief belonged to the age or the faith of Jacob. Is it, then, the great adversary of God’s people, who would fain prevent the entrance of the patriarch into the promised land? Even if it be, Jacob will not give way. No! Not even when he finds out that it is the very “Angel of the Covenant himself”—the “Fear of his father Isaac”—the God who had twice appeared to him in Bethel, who is now stopping the way, and, as a mighty man, seeking to overthrow him—not even then will he give way. When he makes that discovery, he may have many misgivings; and were his desire less intense and his faith less strong, in reference to the country he seeks and the promises he has received, he might be inclined to call back his family and flock and wend his way again to the luxurious pastures and the sumptuous dwelling of his kinsman Laban—or to some new home among earth’s many vacant places, where he might hope to win ease and honour. If he wanted an excuse, he had it now. It was not Esau only who threatened him; God himself was against him. After a decent show of reluctance and pretence of resistance, he might have submitted to necessity, as it might have appeared, and turned his back on Canaan. But he would not. His longing for Canaan was too intense—his warrant for claiming it was too clear—to admit of his giving it up. God had taught him to look for it; God had given him the promise of it. And now, not even when God himself seems to be against him, will he be beaten back. He may wrestle with me, but “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” He shall not hinder me, while I have life, from passing this brook. Again I say—O Jacob! great is thy faith! It is like the faith of one who, though not thy child after the flesh, was yet like-minded with thee, in the days when that divine Saviour who wrestled with thee dwelt on the earth, and went about doing good. The woman, who was “a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation” (Mark vii. 26), coming to Christ on behalf of her poor daughter, met with much the same treatment with thyself; and like thee, she was not to be overcome. Jesus wrestled with her—dealt with her harshly—spurned her, it might almost seem with his foot—and called her dog. But she stood her ground. The divine Wrestler saw that he prevailed not against her; he was as it were forced to give in; the kingdom of heaven suffered violence, and this violent assailant took it by force—“O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt” (Matt. xv. 28). It is the determination and strength of faith to hang “helpless” on Christ and know that he is able to support and comfort the one who thus clings to him. Limping Forward The final picture is of the patriarch limping forward to meet Esau, limping because of the wound inflicted on his hip. Again I ask, is this a pitiful picture? It is not, as anyone with perception knows. It is a strong picture, for now Jacob is moving forward at the command, and in the power, of God. This is the significance of his new name. Before this, his name was Jacob, which means “heel grasper,” “cheat,” or “supplanter.” God forced him to confess this (v. 27). Now, Jacob’s name is changed to Israel. I am convinced that the meaning of this name has been misconstrued by most commentators, including those who added the footnotes to the text of the New International Version. Israel is a compound of two words: sarah (meaning “fight,” “struggle,” or “rule”) and el (meaning “God”). Commentators have taken this to mean “he struggles with God” or “he prevails with God” because of verse 28: “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” In other cases, however, of names compounded from a verb and the name of God, God is not the object of the verb. He is the subject. Thus, Daniel means “God judges,” not “he judges God.” Samuel means “God heard,” not “he heard God.” If we are to follow the same principle of interpretation here, Israel means “God rules,” “God commands,” or “God prevails.” But what of verse 28, which calls the patriarch Israel because “you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome”? I think the verse is ironic. With men, Jacob had contended successfully … and lost. He cheated Esau of the blessing but lost Esau’s good will. He outwitted his blind and ailing father but lost his good name. None of these victories had brought satisfaction, and now on the banks of the Jabbok he is bottled up between enemies. He even has God for his antagonist. However, in his battle with God, Jacob suffers a reversal of his fortunes, which is actually his victory. He loses his wrestling match with God; God touches his hip and he is permanently wounded. But in the divine logic, which is beyond our full comprehension, this loss is Jacob’s victory. For at last Jacob surrenders himself. He wins by losing and is now able to go on in new strength as God’s man. I love this picture of the limping Jacob, for it describes us. We limp, so far as our own strength is concerned. In the world’s eyes we are cripples. But God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, and it is when we appear weakest that we are strong. An army like that (even a single individual like that) is invincible.
*(2) El encuentro de Jacob con el ángel en Peniel, 32:24–32. Antes del reencuentro con Esaú, Jacob, quedando sólo, tiene un encuentro personal con Dios que se desarrolla de la siguiente manera: Primero, una lucha física con un hombre que se le aparece. Al principio no se da la identidad del contendedor, pero muy pronto se da a entender que el encuentro no es con un ser humano. La lucha dura toda la noche indicando la tenacidad y fuerza de Jacob. Como resultado de la lucha física y prueba de que no fue sólo un sueño, Jacob queda afectado del nervio ciático o tendón de la pierna. Esto le causa una cojera que limita permanentemente su fuerza física. Segundo, se desarrolla un diálogo de tres intercambios, al final del cual, Jacob sale transformado espiritualmente, con una nueva identidad y con la bendición pedida. En la primera y segunda conversación, el ángel toma la iniciativa y pide una liberación de la lucha. Quiere así dar por terminada la lucha y también intenta proteger su identidad. Jacob no le niega la libertad sino le condiciona: No te dejaré, si no me bendices (v. 26). Seguro de la identidad divina de su contendedor, Jacob pide una bendición. El ángel cambia el tema y pregunta a Jacob por su nombre. El nombre, más que una identidad convencional o diferenciativa, refleja la personalidad. Jacob, implicaba todo lo que él había sido hasta entonces. Aquí hay una confesión de reconocimiento de que realmente Jacob era un “suplantador”, y que el engaño había sido su arma en las dificultades de su vida. Tras esta confesión, viene la transformación e identidad nueva: No se dirá más... Jacob, sino Israel (v. 28). Este nombre, que significa “el que lucha”, no sólo identifica a Jacob, sino será la identidad de la nación escogida por Dios. La tenacidad y persistencia de Jacob en ser el instrumento humano del pacto, pese a las adversidades, le hace acreedor de la victoria. En la tercera conversación, Jacob toma la iniciativa y pide conocer el nombre de su contendiente. Conocer el nombre personal de la divinidad significa privilegio de invocar su ayuda, su presencia. Es penetrar en la naturaleza misma de la deidad. (Los judíos hasta hoy día no pronuncian el nombre personal de Dios.) En vez del nombre, Jacob recibe la bendición. Un gran testimonio personal 1. Jacob llamó el nombre de aquel lugar Peniel, diciendo: Porque vi a Dios cara a cara y salí con vida (v. 30). Este es un gran testimonio: "He visto a Dios". Ninguna persona puede seguir siendo el mismo de antes después que se ha encontrado cara a cara con el Señor. Hoy nosotros logramos la misma experiencia de relación con Dios por medio de Jesucristo. El dijo: El que me ha visto a mí, ha visto al Padre (Juan 14:9). 2. ... y cojeaba de su cadera (v. 31) De aquí en adelante el caminar de Jacob no sería igual. Ahora su andar le recordaba a él y a quienes lo veían que era una persona tocada por el Señor. ¿Son nuestro andar, conversar y estilo de vida evidencias de que hemos sido tocados por el amor de Dios a través de Jesucristo? 3. Cambia su nombre de Jacob (suplantador) a Israel (príncipe de Dios). El final del encuentro es marcado por el nombramiento memorial del lugar: Peniel, que significa “cara de Dios” y que refleja la experiencia real y personal de Jacob con Dios y su sobrevivencia (v. 30). En el pensamiento bíblico, nadie puede ver a Dios y permanecer con vida, excepto por la misericordia y propósito especial de Dios.
Semillero homilético La lucha del alma 32:24–32 Introducción: La experiencia de Jacob con el ángel puede ser la experiencia de toda persona tarde o temprano en su vida. I. Es precedida por un descanso físico que Jacob necesitaba. Jacob pasó allí aquella noche (v. 13). Esta expresión ha sido interpretada por algunos estudiantes de la Biblia de manera interesante. Dicen que la expresión equivale a "se quedó para descansar y dormir allí toda la noche". Si esa lectura del texto es correcta, es fácil concluir que el resultado de dejar las cargas en las manos del Señor produce quietud y tranquilidad. Además, ese descanso después de varios días de viaje le venía muy bien antes de encontrarse con su hermano Esaú. Aprende las lecciones que solamente enseña el Señor y que Jacob necesitaba aprender.Jacob se quedó solo, y un hombre luchó con él hasta que rayaba el alba (v. 24).Se ha dicho y escrito mucho acerca de quién era el "hombre" que luchó con Jacob. Algunos sugieren que fue literalmente una pelea con otro ser humano. Otros dicen que fue un sueño y por lo tanto algo simbólico de la experiencia de la oración. El profeta Oseas dijo: En el vientre suplantó a su hermano y en su edad viril contendió con Dios. Contendió con el ángel y prevaleció (Ose. 12:3, 4a). En esa época, era necesario que Dios hiciera sus revelaciones de una manera visible y corporal; fue una teofanía. Se puede dividir en tres movimientos: 1. La lucha física que dura toda la noche. Jacobo no solo gastó su energía física, sino su energía mental y emocional. Al reconocer el caracter celestial de su adversario, la lucha tuvo consecuencias espirituales. 2. El diálogo entre Jacob y el ángel. Este se da en dos etapas. En la primera el ángel toma la iniciativa y le dice: ¿Cuál es tu nombre? En segunda etapa es Jacob quien toma la iniciativa al preguntar: ¿Cuál es tu nombre? El resultado de aquel diálogo fue la transformación espiritual de Jacob. Salía de esta experiencia con una nueva identidad y con la bendición que había pedido. 3. El nombre del lugar: Peniel. La palabra significa: "cara de Dios" o " Dios vuelve su rostro hacia mí". Peniel traduce la experiencia personal, extraordinaria y única que Jacob acababa de experimentar con el Señor: lo vio cara a cara. Conclusión: Aquí la lucha del alma es “luchar con Dios”; es decir, perseverar en la oración. Por medio de esta experiencia uno puede aprender mucho de sí mismo y a la vez reflexionar acerca de su pasado y su futuro. Para Jacobo significó su conversión. Para nosotros, Dios nos transforma por medio de estas experiencias. Dos aspectos significativos resultan de este encuentro: Uno, la transformación espiritual de Jacob por la gracia de Dios. Con esta transformación da nombre a la nación escogida y con la descendencia de sus hijos hace a esa nación escogida una realidad histórica. El otro, la nación de Israel nace de un encuentro con Dios. Su identidad está ligada a ese encuentro con Dios, consistente con el llamamiento de Dios a Abraham, la confirmación a Isaac y la experiencia de Jacob. De aquí en adelante, las actuaciones, decisiones e iniciativas de Jacob, seguirán las pautas recogidas en este encuentro con Dios. Al final, el encuentro con Esaú no es lo más prioritario para Jacob, sino su propio encuentro con Dios. El enemigo no estaba tanto en Esaú sino en el mismo Jacob quien siempre apelaba a sus recursos y fuerzas en descuido de su comunión y dependencia de Dios. Obviamente el encuentro en Peniel fue la respuesta a la oración de Jacob. Nacemos de nuevo
Encontrarnos de nuevo con una persona con quien hemos tenido dificultades es siempre difícil. El paso de los años, la falta de comunicación, y los recuerdos del enojo, las palabras ásperas que se dijeron y las emociones sentidas, todo crea una tremenda ansiedad que deseamos evitar. Aun cuando podamos haber tenido algún contacto por medio de otras personas, todavía existe una tensión muy fuerte. La única manera de librarnos de tales sentimientos es encontrarnos con esa persona cara a cara, y suplicarle con lágrimas, que por favor nos perdone. ¡Nacemos de nuevo! Esa es la verdad preciosa que aprendemos en el reencuentro de Jacob con su hermano Esaú.
El inmenso temor de Jacob se transformó en tranquilidad. La última vez que vio a su hermano Esaú, Jacob, sabía que su hermano lo odiaba a muerte, pero pasó el tiempo, ambos habían tenido otras experiencias, ambos habían crecido y madurado en lo emocional. Ambos habían cambiado. Cuando Jacob se encontró con su hermano, se dio cuenta que entre ambos existía un afecto fraternal hermoso a pesar de que ambos recordaban con pena lo que había ocurrido entre ellos.
* 24-32. There wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. In the loneliness of the dark night Jacob was met by a man who wrestled with him. Hebrew ˒abaq, to “twist,” or “wrestle,” has some connection with the word Jabbok. After a long struggle, the unknown visitor demanded that Jacob release him. This Jacob refused to do until the stranger blessed him. The “man” asked Jacob to tell his name, which means supplanter. Then the stranger declared that from then on he would have a new name with a new meaning. The word Israel can be translated he who striveth with God, or God Striveth, or he who persevereth; or, it may be associated with the word śar, “prince.” The “man” declared: Thou hast striven with God ... and hast prevailed. It was an assurance of victory in dealing with Esau, as well as assurance of triumphs all along the way. In the titanic struggle, Jacob came to realize his own weakness and the superiority of the mighty One who had touched him. At the moment of yielding, he became a new man, who could receive the blessings of God and assume his place in God’s plan. The new name, Israel, suggests royalty and power and sovereignty among men. He was destined to be a God-governed man instead of an unscrupulous supplanter. He had come through defeat into power. All the rest of his life he would be crippled; yet his limp would be a reminder of his new royalty. Peniel (or Penuel) means face of God. The i and the u are mere connecting vowels joining the substantive pen and el. It is probably to be located up the Jabbok Valley about seven or eight miles from the Jordan. Jacob had seen the face of God and still lived. He would never forget that incredible experience.
* Wrestling with the “Man” (32:24–25[25–26]) 32:24–25[25–26] Verse 24 establishes that Jacob was the only one remaining behind, contributing to the mystery of the unidentified assailant. The opponent is blandly identified only as “a man” (ʾîs). There is no explanation provided for the attack. The word “wrestled” (wayyēʾābēk) is a play on “Jabbok” (yabbōk, vv. 24, 26[25, 27]). As a play also on Jacob’s name (yaʿăqōb), it is a prelude to the name change he receives by virtue of outdueling the “man.” The passage heightens the name “Jacob,” for it conveyed as much as anything the selfish character he exhibited until his transformation at the Jabbok. Mention of the “dawn” also prepares us for the closure of the nightlong struggle, showing that Jacob and the “man” possessed remarkable strength and endurance (cf. v. 26). Moreover, mention of the dawn infuses the narrative with mystery, since the unidentified “man” wishes to remain anonymous. Physical strength characterized Jacob’s life: at birth grasping the heel of Esau (25:26), moving the stone to water Rachel’s sheep (29:10), and working Laban’s herds for twenty years in difficult conditions (31:38–40). Here he vigorously clinches the “man,” who in what appears to be desperation injures the patriarch in a failed attempt to free himself. The irony is that Jacob’s physical weakness will recall the transformation of his moral strength. An apparent victory for Jacob was threatened at the last moment when the “man” wounded Jacob by a blow (nāgaʿ + bĕ) to the hip (yārēk), dislocating the joint (v. 25). The intensity of the strike required by the intruder to weaken Jacob cannot be determined from the text. The phraseology (nāgaʿ + bĕ) may indicate a mere “touch” (3:3; Exod 19:12) or an aggressive “strike” designed to harm (26:29; Ps 105:15; Ezek 17:10). The idea of the Lord attacking Jacob is puzzling to commentators, although it is reminiscent of Moses’ experience in Exod 4:24–26, when Moses failed to circumcise his son. Naming and Blessing “Jacob-Israel” (32:26–29[27–30]) Jacob demands a blessing (v. 26), and the stranger changes Jacob’s name and blesses him (vv. 27–29[28–30]). Command for a Blessing (32:26) 32:26 Jacob held fast, despite the “man’s” trickery, who resorted to pleading for release. The light of dawn would reveal the identity of the stranger, evidently giving Jacob an advantage over the “man.” Jacob seized his chance, knowing that the figure he encountered was his superior. Was this God’s angel? This would be a reasonable deduction made by the patriarch, since he had encountered angels camping nearby (vv. 1–2[2–3]). Moreover, the “man’s” reaction to the rising sun signaled that Jacob dealt with a superior being (Exod 33:20, 23; Judg 13:1–22). The author maintains the enigma of the “man’s” identity until Jacob announces it (v. 30). That Jacob believes the “man” can render him a blessing indicates that Jacob knows his identity. That the combatant was Esau appears unlikely since his brother had no blessing to bestow upon Jacob. The ambiguity of the “man’s” identity contributes to the author’s theology of God’s hiddenness. He confronts Jacob in a personal way, but he resists full disclosure. As long as God maintains this veil, Jacob cannot truly rival God’s power and position. And for the Christian interpreter, an even more remarkable exhibit of God’s grace is the fuller disclosure in the condescension and incarnation of Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 18; 2 Cor 3:13–18; Heb 1:3). Since this is God’s messenger, Jacob has his opportunity to obtain the blessing from God that had escaped him until now, for he had only received his father’s blessing and that was given unwittingly. The earlier narratives have implied that Jacob is already the recipient of the Lord’s blessing (30:27, 30; 35:9; 48:3), but it is explicitly stated for the first time that God “blessed him” (v. 29). This experience provides Jacob (and his descendants) the confirmation of God’s blessing. The precise nature of this blessing is unstated. We may surmise that Jacob sought the power only God could provide him to overcome his enemies. The difficulty with this understanding, however, is that Jacob had already overpowered the “man,” leaving the impression that the blessing Jacob sought transcended the circumstances. He seeks from the Lord the assurance that his descendants will endure, creating the nation God had promised (28:13–14; 31:3, 13). That the blessing is or is related to the name “Israel” fits textually since the name presumes the nation that his sons will furnish. Name and Blessing (32:27–29[28–30]) 32:27–29[28–30] By asking Jacob’s name, the “man” indicated his superior position to Jacob. The change in name signaled God’s favor toward the patriarch (Abram and Sarai, 17:5, 15). The dubious meaning of the name “Jacob” was suspicious at best. Historically, the name “Jacob,” meaning “one who supplants” (“grabs the heel of”), was given for the seizure of his twin brother’s heel at birth (25:26). If there were any ambiguity about the disrepute of the name “Jacob,” Esau rendered his verdict in no uncertain terms: “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob [yaʿăqōb]? He has deceived me [wayyaʿqĕbēnî] these two times” (27:36). By the change in name to “Israel,” the passage announces that Jacob’s moral character is about to undergo a metamorphosis. The phonological derivation of the name “Israel” is disputed, but it is of no importance to the interpretation of the text anyway. The sound of the name provides the significance of “Israel” (yiśrāʾēl) in the passage, playing on the word “struggled” (śārâ), “for you have struggled [śārîtā] with God [ʾĕlōhîm].” The word śārâ occurs only here and in Hosea’s interpretation of the event (12:3–4[4–5]). If we follow the typical pattern of theophoric appellatives, “Israel” means “God [El] struggles” or “May God [El] struggle.” The explanation of the name given by the “man,” however, reverses this sense by saying that it was Jacob who had “struggled” successively “with God [Elohim] and with men” (32:28; cf. Judg 9:9, 13). Even in the name “Israel,” therefore, we meet another ambiguity in the narrative. The name “Israel” emphasizes that it was God who initiated the struggle, and the explanation that the “man” gives emphasizes the outcome. Both are true. There is no other person who could legitimately bear the name “Israel,” and it is not used of another person in the Old Testament (Matt 1:16). The victories over human rivals were recounted in the former episodes (chaps. 27–31), in which the patriarch triumphed over Esau and Laban, but had he indeed won the match with God? And, if so, in what sense? Jacob, true to his competitive nature, reciprocated by seeking the name of his opponent (v. 29). Could he claim a victory over the “man” without obtaining his name? That the “man” questioned the need of Jacob to know his name admits the advantage that it would have yielded to the patriarch. The similar scenario occurred when an angelic messenger visits Samson’s parents, announcing the child’s birth (Judg 13:17–18), but there the angel refuses the request for his name on the grounds that the parents would not understand its meaning anyway. Jacob does not pursue the matter further with the combatant, ending the dialogue abruptly. It is left to the narrator to present the outcome, simply reporting, “He blessed him there” (v. 29). Jacob had received the inviolable blessing of his father but by deceit (27:23, 27, 33), which tarnished but did not annul its legitimacy. By mentioning “there” (šām), the passage prepares the reader for the importance of the place and its naming (Peniel/ Penuel). Naming “Peniel” (32:30–31[31–32]) 32:30 The naming of the site, “Peniel,” follows a common naming formula in Genesis (v. 30; cf. 22:14; 28:19; 32:2; 35:15). As Wenham notes, the name “Peniel” is preferable to the author of Genesis since it is closer in sound to the explanation “face to face” (pānîm el pānîm) than the variant “Penuel” (v. 32). The appellative pĕnîʾēl means “the face of God [El]),” originated by Jacob because he survived this face-to-face (pānîm el pānîm) meeting with God. By this the reader learns from Jacob that the “man” was indeed deity, as we had come to expect from earlier hints. Hosea further interpreted the incident as an encounter with God’s “angel” (12:4), which is consistent with theophany in the lives of the patriarchs (16:7; 19:1, 15; 21:17; 22:11, 15; 24:7; 28:12; 31:11; 32:1; 48:16). Much ancient Jewish and Christian speculation arose from this fascinating encounter of Jacob and the “man.” Targumic and rabbinic interpretations identified his assailant as an angel in the appearance of a man, not a theophany, and sometimes recognized the angel by name (Michael and Sariel). That a man could wrestle and prevail over God created a theological tension in Jewish interpretation, resulting in the substitute of an angel. Philo’s allegorical reading transformed the wrestling’s meaning into the human soul that prevails over the human passions and wickedness. The blessing bestowed on Jacob was meant for his descendants, who would believe in Christ. From Jacob’s standpoint, what was most remarkable was that he had made demands on the divine combatant and had lived (cf. 16:13; Exod 33:20, 23; Deut 5:24; Judg 13:22–23; John 1:18). Jacob’s power over the divine intruder was only apparent, however, for at the breaking of dawn his life was in jeopardy at any time the “man” wished to take it. The passive voice of the Hebrew verb, “was spared” suggests that Jacob admitted that he lived only because God’s grace preserved him. His survival was a presage of the face-to-face encounter with Esau that he also will survive (33:10). 32:31 Mention of the risen sun recalls the urgency of the “man’s” release and the nightlong duration of the struggle (v. 31). The word translated “limping” (ṣōlēaʿ) is the less common term used to describe the lame (Mic 4:6–7; Zeph 3:19; cf. pissēaḥ, e.g., Lev 21:18). By the text’s juxtaposition of the “sun” and the limping Jacob, we have a visual reminder of the battle that resulted in Jacob’s victory but at the cost of a painful injury. Fokkelman explains the significance of the imagery when he comments, “The old Adam has been shaken off, ‘Jakob’ stays behind on one bank of the river. A new man, steeled and marked, Israel, has developed and he continues the journey on the other bank.” Conclusion (32:32) 32:32 The narrative concludes that the incident at Peniel explains the dietary practice of the Hebrews known in the author’s own day. The prohibition against eating the “tendon” muscle (nāšeh) arises from its association with Jacob’s struggle with God. By this observance, Israelites honored the Lord and their ancestor Jacob-Israel.
35:7 built an altar there. Through this act of worship, fulfillment of his vow (28:20–22), and renaming the site, Jacob reconfirmed his allegiance to God, who also affirmed His commitment to Jacob by re-appearing to him, repeating the change of name (v. 10; 32:28), and rehearsing the Abrahamic promises (vv. 11,12). In response, Jacob also repeated the rite he had performed when he first met God at Bethel (v. 14) and reaffirmed its name (v. 15)
35:9-15. At Bethel God confirmed the promise He had made there earlier (32:28). Jacob’s name-change to Israel was proof of the promised blessing. God’s reference to Himself as God Almighty (’ēl šadday 17:1) was also an assurance that His promise would be fulfilled (28:3). Now that the patriarch was back in the land of promise, the promise of the nation (“seed”), kings, and the land was once again confirmed (12:2-3; 15:5, 18; 17:3-8; 22:15-18; 28:13-14). Jacob’s actions here are almost identical with those in his earlier Bethel experience: setting up a stone pillar, pouring oil on it, naming the place . . . Bethel (35:6-7, 14-15; 28:16-19). And both times God promised Jacob many descendants in the land (28:13-14; 35:11-12). But here He added that kings would be included in Jacob’s offspring
35:9 God renewed His everlasting covenant with Jacob. This is the 8th passage dealing with the Abrahamic covenant (15:1–21).10 God validated Jacob’s change of name and reaffirmed His promises to him. Now Jacob would be called Israel (32:28). Note that Genesis uses the names Jacob and Israel interchangeably (vv. 14, 20–22; 46:2). 11 This is the 3rd use of the name, El Shaddai, God Almighty (17:1; 28:3; compare Ex. 6:3). God used His great name to attest His strong relationship with Jacob
9-15. Again God appeared to Jacob and assured him that his new name, Israel, would be a constant reminder of his new character, his new relation to Jehovah, and his kingly walk in the divine way of life. He was the heir of the promises made to Abraham. The covenant was still in full force, and it would continue to be binding upon him and his descendants. In speaking with Jacob, God used His name, God Almighty, ˒El Shadday, “the all-sufficient One” (v. 11). Jacob could count on ˒El Shadday to supply any and every need, and to give the grace for any emergency
* Theophany and Blessing (35:9–13) The passage describes the divine promises (vv. 10–12), sandwiched between the notices of the theophany’s appearance (v. 9) and ascension (v. 13). Divine Appearance (35:9) 35:9 By the word “again,” the verse alludes to the first visit to Bethel, although in the prior narrative (28:10–22) the typical language “appeared” (wayyērāʾ) does not occur (e.g., 12:7; 17:1; 18:1; 26:2, 24). Mention of his return “from Paddan Aram” contributes to the narrative’s emphasis on fulfillment (28:2). “And he blessed him” recalls the naming of Israel when the stranger first “blessed” him (32:29); by this acknowledgment the author links Jacob with his ancestors (24:1; 25:11; cf. 48:3). This is appropriate for the reissuing of the name in v. 10. The substance of the “blessing” follows in vv. 10–12, which foretell the nation that he will father. “Israel” and the Promises (35:10–12) 35:10 This is the second divine speech in the narrative. The expansion of the promises in these verses confirms the approval of Jacob. Wenham offers that it parallels the Abraham narrative in which God declared the promises anew after the successful passing of the test (22:16–18). The significance of the redundancy in v. 10 is to reinforce the message of the new name but with a different emphasis. In the first naming, the context of chaps. 32–33 focused the reader on the patriarch’s transformation, from “Jacob” the trickster to “Israel” the one blessed of God. Here the context highlights the national and royal importance of the name, shown by the new character of the promises in v. 11 and the first formal listing of his twelve tribal descendants (vv. 23–26). 35:11 The self-identification “I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]” points back to the Abraham experience (17:1) but also brings forward the wording of Isaac’s blessing upon Jacob (28:3). “Be fruitful and increase in number” echoes Isaac’s prayer (28:2), but the new circumstances broaden the meaning. As a young man the prayer of Isaac invoked God’s blessing for sons, which the Lord realized through the gift of twelve sons. But now Jacob is an old man, meaning that the call for procreation must refer to future generations who will create a nation. Wenham remarks that the chapter’s events anticipate future events, such as the nation’s wars of conquest, pertaining to Israel’s purification and the supervision of collected booty (Num 31:20; Deut 7:25–26; Josh 7:21). We earlier remarked that the treatment of the Shechemites by Simeon and Levi foreshadowed Israel’s rules of engagement in Deut 7:1–5; 20:13–14 (see comments on 34:7, 25–26). The sites noted in Jacob’s route in chap. 35 from Shechem to Hebron, including his intervening stops, imply the future transition from the patriarchal era to Israel’s twelve tribes and finally Israel’s first kings, Saul (Benjamin) and David (Hebron).m The language “fruitful and increase” is similar to the promises made to Abraham in 17:2, 6 (cf. Ishmael, 17:20). “A nation (gôy) and a community [qĕhal] of nations [gôyim]” is another reflex of his father’s invocation (“a community [qĕhal] of peoples,” 28:3). The connection with Abraham is apparent here (17:4–6), who will be “a father of many nations [gôyim].” Another shift in perspective is indicated by the departure from the former expression “peoples” (ʿammîm) to the word “nation” (gôy). The term “nation” indicates a nation-state with land, and the word “people” reflects the community bonding of a people group (see vol. 1a, p. 430). The term “nation” is fitting for the expansion of the promises by the inclusion of “kings,” a feature of the Abrahamic version but not yet stated for Jacob (17:6, 16). “Will come from you” and “will come from your body” are parallel lines that present only slight variations on the former language made to Abraham and Sarah. Moreover, the verse recalls the birth oracle given to Rebekah that announces that “two nations are in your womb” (25:23). In Jacob’s case, “body” (i.e., “loins,” ḥălāṣayim) is appropriate, referring to the strength of the man (e.g., 1 Kgs 8:19; Job 38:3). This is another passage in Genesis that anticipates the royal offspring promised to the nation Israel (cf. 36:31)
Genesis 32:22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 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. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 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.” 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” 31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon