Faithlife Sermons

Wrestling God

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Today is a very simple sermon.
What is the meaning of Jacob wrestling with God?"
To best answer this question, it helps to know, among other things, that deep-seated family hostilities characterized Jacob’s life.
He was a determined man; some would consider him to be ruthless.
He was a con artist, a liar, and a manipulator.
In fact, the name Jacob not only means “deceiver,” but more literally it means “grabber.”
Jacob famously deceived his blind father and stole his brother Esau’s blessing.
Esau vowed to kill him for his treachery and Jacob was forced to flee for his life.
it was then that jacob met Rachel and lived with his father in law Laban. But the old dog was still up to old tricks.
He manipulated the breeding of the goat herds to favour him, he got the string young while his father in law got the weak one.
Again he was caught and laban, furious at the betrayal made Jacoibs life very difficult.
Jacob now finds himself between a rock and a hard place.
Stay with Laban and suffer at his hand, or go home and suffer at Esau’s hand.
And this was all self afflicted trouble. He made this bed himself with his actions and attitude.
I have strongly maintained that many people do the devils work for him. Most people suffer because of their own foolishness and sinfulness.
Galatians 6:7 NKJV
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
Finally he cannot take it any more and decides to go home, with his wife and his possessions.
All Jacob’s struggles and fears were about to be realized.
Anxious for his very life, Jacob concocted a bribe and sent a caravan of gifts along with his women and children across the River Jabbok in hopes of pacifying his brother.
Now physically exhausted, alone in the desert wilderness, facing sure death, he was stripped of all his worldly possessions.
In fact, he was powerless to control his fate.
He had made his bed and now he finds that he simply cannot sleep on it.
Out of options, out of solutions out of hope, he collapses in state of mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion.
But only then did his real struggle begin.
Fleeing his family history had been bad enough; wrestling with God Himself was a different matter altogether.
That night an angelic stranger visited Jacob and the match between Jacobs deceiving will and God’s will began.
Genesis 32:24 NKJV
24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.
This was a spiritual struggle between Jacob and God. Jocob’s lifestyle of sin and deception had caused him nothing but trouble.
How did Jacob struggle and wrestle with God?
Hosea 12:4 NKJV
4 Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; He wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, And there He spoke to us—
He wept and sought favor or grace from God.
What did he weep about? His sin and he was looking for God;s grace and forgivness.
God wanted to give Jacob a new heart, a new life.
Genesis 32:25 NKJV
25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.
God saw that Jacobs sinful attitude was very strong and stubborn, God new that Jacob would not change his habits of making trouble and running away.
So God broke Jacobs strength.
God could have desired Jacob, it could have been afatl blow, but instead God showed Jacob his mercy.
and Jacob for the rest of life said:
Genesis 32:30 NKJV
30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
Look at Jacobs statment to God:
Genesis 32:26 NKJV
26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
What was Jacob saying?
he was saying that i can longer longer live this way. I can lo longer be led by my sinful nature.
I need you and i will not let you go until you bless me with a new heart and a new way of thinking and a new life.
God responds to Jacobs request in a wonderful way:
Genesis 32:27–28 NKJV
27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” 28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
By asking Jacob his name, he was asking him what kind of person he was. remeber that in the bible your name represented your nature.
Jacob says: I am jacob - I am a lier, i am a crook, i am a deceaver, i am a sinner.
And at this confession Jacob gets him miracle:
Genesis 32:28–29 NKJV
28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.
God changes Jacobs name to Isreal and he blesses Jacob, or rather he blesses Israel.
Notice that the blessing does not come to jacob, it comes to Israel.
God only blesses him after the confess his sin and gets a new heart and nature.
What does this story have to do with you?
Jacobs story of how he wrestled with God and became Israel and blessed is a powerful example of od strength and grace and power at the end of mans vain efforts.
Who has not been like Jacob on the Jabbok river bank?
Alone, exhausted, afraid, regretful, vulnerable, empty, despondent?
Even as a saved person life brings us to the Jabbok river bank, Paul in his ministry was there, he said:
2 Corinthians 7:5 NKJV
5 For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.
In this world we will have tribulation, and weather this tribulation is caused at our own hand through disobedience or through the struggle of life in a sinful world, we may find ourselves out of option, out of solutions and out of idea’s.
But God does not want to leave us with our trials, our fears, our battles in life.
What we come to learn in our conflicts of life is that God is there and He offers us a divine blessing.
It is through Him that we can receive the power of conversion and transformation, the gift of not only surrender, but freedom, and the gifts of endurance, faith, and courage.
In the end, Jacob does what we all must do.
He confronts his failures, his weaknesses, his sins, all the things that are hurting him . . . and faces God.
Jacob wrestled with God all night. It was an exhausting struggle that left him crippled. It was only after he came to grips with God and ceased his struggling, realizing that he could not go on without Him, that he received God’s blessing.
What we learn from this remarkable incident in the life of Jacob is that our lives are never meant to be easy.
We also learn that as Christians, despite our trials and tribulations, our strivings in this life are never devoid of God’s presence, and His blessing inevitably follows the struggle, which can sometimes be messy and chaotic.
Real growth experiences always involve struggle and pain.
Jacob’s wrestling with God at the Jabbok that dark night reminds us of this truth: though we may fight God and His will for us, in truth, God is so very good.
And the sooner we surrender to His will for our lives the sooner the blessing will come.
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