It’s one thing to make mistakes. We all do it. But there are times, we think or realize that we were set up to blow it. Whether it’s other’s foolishness or our laziness and poor choices, it prevents us from moving forward. We start buying into the devil’s lies: God has forgotten about me, He plays favorites, or His promises only work for other people.Finally, we settle for mediocrity, we become half-hearted, and defeated, stopping way short of God’s plan for us.
Jacob had a way of taking short cuts and cheating others. After escaping from his Uncle Laban, he realizes he’s headed right for his brother, Esau. His past had caught up with him and it was time to stop running…it was time to face up to previous failures. God had plans for Jacob. He was the one chosen to fulfill a promise made to his grandfather, but it was going to be God’s way, not Jacob’s. God’s way is the easiest way. It’s NOT EASY, but it’s the best way because He wants the best for us. He has an interesting encounter as he prepares to face his big hairy bro.
But during the night Jacob got up and sent his two wives, two concubines, and eleven sons across the Jabbok River. After they were on the other side, he sent over all his possessions. This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until dawn. When the man saw that he couldn’t win the match, he struck Jacob’s hip and knocked it out of joint at the socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is dawn. “But Jacob panted, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “It is now Israel, because you have struggled with both God and men and have won.” “What is your name?” Jacob asked him. “Why do you ask?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place Peniel — “face of God” — for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” The sun rose as he left Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip (Genesis 32: 22-31).
Jacob Got Alone with God. “So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak” (v. 24).
Jacob was by himself. All right God: it’s You and me. Remember the stairs? You’ll be with me you said? It was his moment to contend with God about his life. Jabbok means “pouring out or emptying.” God was squeezing Jacob to empty him of self. We can’t be Spirit filled if we’re filled with self. God will always come to our aid but not always in the way we expect. He’s not always in the wind, earthquake, or fire; sometimes in the still small voice! We know His voice by spending time with Him. It’s got to be more than our wish list and our memorized personal psalm of praise. We must learn to pour out our hearts to Him…to be brutally honest.
Jacob Got Real With God. “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (v. 26).
“God I’m desperate. I’ve messed up. I tried to be in control. I’m so far from where you want me. How can I get back there? Life is catching up with me. There are those who seek my destruction. There are people counting on me. I’ve disappointed others. I’m serious. I’m done failing. There are so many paths, so many options. What am I supposed to do? What are You going to do? Which way should I go? I’ve tried but I’ve made a mess. I admit it. I’m not God. I’m not in control. This sucks. I want Your Will! TAKE OVER!” Sound familiar? Any of it? Jacob was so desperate for something new, he wrestled all night. God’s response? “You’re right. No longer stand on your own or trust in your own strengths or abilities!” **Womp. His hip was knocked out of socket. If we want His will, then it’s His way. We must rely on Him.
Jacob got changed by God. “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel…” (v. 28).
Names are very significant in the Bible. Many times they were prophetic. Others times, they were reflections of a child’s character, nature, habits, or reputation. Every time his mom called him Jacob, she called him “deceiver or conniver.” God knew a change of direction was necessary so He changed his name to Israel or “God rules, perseveres.” He didn’t negate Jacob’s past but He made him reconcile it. Once that happened, it was possible to advance. It was a new beginning because his past was gone. Now it was time to face the future and get this nation going. He fathered many sons, who are to this day known as the children of Israel. They are only referred to the children of Jacob when they failed.
We should be comforted by the fact thattheBible is full of failures from front to back. Adam and Eve, Cain, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, the 12 sons, Moses, Aaron, Samson, Saul, David, Solomon, 7 of 20 of the kings Judah, all 19 kings of Israel, Elijah, Jonah, Simon Peter, Judas, Thomas, Paul, Paul’s friends, etc.
Then Jacob finds himself back at Bethel where he first learned of God’s presence. He had come full circle. “Yes Jacob, I haven’t give up on you. But let’s do it right this time. You are not a failure. I DON’T CREATE FAILURES! You might make mistakes and foolish decisions…but I am the One who makes all things new.”
Think about these questions for a moment.
- How is God wanting to change you?
- Where do you need to be “crippled” so God can take over?
- What Name is God wanting to give you? (It was to be a change of heart or path)