Jacob was worried about coming home after 20+ years away from his brother, Esau. Now, at long last he was coming home, a rich man with a big family. But the closer Jacob got to home, the more his heart was filled with dread. What were things like at home? Was Esau still angry for the terrible, deceitful way his brother had treated him? Was his father Isaac still alive? What about his mother Rebekah?
Jacob received the news that his brother had an army of 400 men! Frantic with fear, Jacob thought his entire family would surely be killed. Acting in haste, without trusting God and His promises to take care of his family, he quickly came up with an idea. He would divide his household, along with the flocks, herds, and camels, into two groups. If Esau attacked and destroyed one group, the other group would have a chance to escape.
Where was Jacob’s faith and trust in Jehovah God? After Jacob had made his plans and decided what he would do, as sort of an afterthought, he prayed. I wonder why he didn’t pray and call on the Lord the very first thing? It would have saved him a lot of worry and anxiety! But many times we do exactly as Jacob did. We make our own plans and work out our own ideas and then ask God to bless them, instead of asking Him to show us His will and what He wants and has planned for us.
That night Jacob had his family cross the river Jabbok, while he stayed behind, alone. Suddenly, in the dark, a hand seized Jacob. Jacob started struggling with an opponent who had the muscles and power of a wrestler This One was the Lord God Himself! He wanted Jacob to let Him be Lord and King of Jacob’s life – his Ruler, not just his Saviour. God wanted Jacob to quit having his own way, making his own plans, scheming, cheating, swindling, and trying to get what he wanted by being clever and crafty.
Jacob fought and stubbornly refused to give in all through the night. They battled until dawn, when the Lord struck Jacob’s hip and knocked it out of joint at the socket. Jacob was helpless. He clung to the Angle of the Lord crying out that He could have His way. The Lord changed his name to Israel, which means “God rules or God commands.”
All through his life, Jacob had tried to rule and command his own life and the lives of others. Now he must be willing to be ruled, and to receive commands, and to obey orders. Jacob called the wrestling place Peniel or “Face of God”, for he said, “I have seen God face to face.”
In the dawn of a new day, a new Jacob limped away from the wrestling place. At last he had yielded himself to the God of his fathers. Jacob was a new man; he had a new name, Israel. No one can meet God face to face and be the same – He will be changed and transformed; he will live differently after seeing the Lord.
Early that morning Jacob crossed the river and joined his family. Far in the distance he saw Esau coming with his four hundred men. Jacob went out alone to meet Esau; he bowed low in a very humble manner. Then Esau ran toward Jacob, his arms in the air welcoming his brother home. He was no longer angry! The brothers were sweetly reunited!
As years passed, Jacob never forgot that wrestling match with the Lord at the river Jabbok, for it caused him to give up his own ways and let God rule his life. None of us today have had and actual wrestling match with the Lord like Jacob did, but deep down in our souls, we have fought with the Lord, too. God says to us, “Will you give up? Will you turn your whole life over to Me an let Me be your Lord and King? I love you and bought you on Calvary’s cross by shedding My blood for you. Will you surrender your own will for Mine?”
I hope we will not wait till we are old and have lived out most of our lives like Jacob, but that right now while we are young(ish) and have our lives before us, we will say, “Yes, Lord. I give myself to You. I give up my way and ‘doing my own thing,’ I want YOU to have YOUR way in my life. I gladly make you Lord and ruler of my life. I want to be changed; I want to be different; I want to live a surrendered life. I want to be made like Jesus.” This is the only way to true happiness and joy. Let’s ask God to help us yield to His way in our lives.