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Wrestling With God!

November 14, 2008

I just read, again, the passage about how Jacob wrestled with God at Bethel. That has always been an interesting passage to me. The whole concept of wrestling with God is one that I find difficult to comprehend. I mean…hey…this is the Creator of the whole universe we are talking about! Even if it was only an angel, as some believe, that just sounds really extraordinary to me…and pretty crazy!

Perhaps his boldness came, at least in part, from his previous encounter with God at Bethel. Jacob was on the run after pulling some deceitful and manipulative stunts that resulted in his receiving his older brother’s birthright and stealing his older brother’s blessing. He was a wanted man.

In that encounter, he has a dream wherein he sees a ladder with angels going up and down it between earth and heaven. God stood above the ladder, identified Himself and then made an incredible promise to Jacob regarding his personal future and his lineage. He promises to stay with him and to bring him back to this land and to give it to his descendents.

In return, Jacob makes a vow back to God. He says that if God stays with him and protects him and brings him back to his father’s house in peace, then God will be his God and he will give to God a tenth of all that God has given him.

By the time of the next event at Bethel, he is on his way back to his father’s house and God has, indeed, been with him and protected him and blessed him, just as He promised He would. It is right before he meets up with his brother that he has this second encounter at Bethel. He wrestles with God and won’t let Him go until He blesses him.

During this encounter, God asks Jacob his name and then proceeds to give him a new name. Jacob basically means supplanter or heel holder. His name comes from his birth when his twin came out first, but he was holding onto his brother’s heel. His new name…Israel…means “God prevails” or “who will rule with God”. Jacob was a changed man and his new name reflected that.

So, back to this idea of wrestling with God. I have had my times when doubts would hang over my head and heart. I went through something like that about a year ago. At the time, I did not think of it as “wrestling with God”, but one of our Phoenix pastors thought it might be. I don’t know.

I have reread what I wrote to my closest friends back then. Looking back at it now, I can see what God has done in the meantime. Like Jacob, I did not know then what God would do with my faith condition, but now I can see. There are some things that are changed…within and without. There are other things that are not changed, yet change seems to be on the horizon.

I know that God is faithful…even when I am not. His love for me is something that is beyond my comprehension. I sure am grateful for it, though…and for Him!

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