That was one of my favorite books as a kid. As a dad, I read it to my girls. It is just a fun story. The monsters are big and ugly but they aren’t too scary. I don’t ever remember being scared of monsters hiding in the dark, but for some people, darkness intensifies their fears.
Jacob was waiting in the dark, knowing that the next morning he was going to meet his monster, face-to-face. Esau’s last words to him when they parted ways twenty years earlier were essentially, “The next time I see you, I am going to kill you!” Confronting our past is never easy, especially when it has a price on our head. As a man who struggles with fear, Jacob has sent his wives and children ahead of him, putting them in harms way, while he cowers in the rear.
But before he confronts Esau, God confronts Jacob. Out of the darkness, an arm grabs him and he finds himself in a wrestling match that goes on for hours. At some point Jacob realized that he was not wrestling against a man, but against an angelic being. This was either a preincarnate appearance of Jesus or the Angel of the Lord, who appears throughout the Old Testament.
Fueled at first by fear and then by faith, Jacob refuses to let go and says, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”
The Man’s question must have startled Jacob. “What is your name?”
The last time someone asked him his name, it was his father Isaac. Jacob, the deceiver’s, response then was, “I am Esau, your firstborn son.”
Here, he answers truthfully. “Jacob.” He knows what his name means. “I am a manipulator. I am a deceiver. I take advantage of people. That is who I am. I am Jacob.”
Confession releases forgiveness, freedom, and blessing. The Man then gave him a new name of “Israel,” which means, “One who strives with God.” The man explained, “You have fought with God and men and have won.”
To be continued…
Have you ever wrestled with God?
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