Genesis 32 is one of those chapters.
You know, the ones where you search on Google images and find countless paintings and interpretations. It’s a Sunday School story, albeit an intense one. And as much as I enjoy studying the parts of Scripture I have never read, I also enjoy coming back to the familiar ones and reading them with fresh eyes.
The Tension Builds
The last time we saw Esau, (say “we saw Esau” three times fast) he was in a murderous rage and wanting to kill Jacob for stealing his blessing. Jacob is understandably afraid for his life, especially when he finds out Esau is waiting for him with a small army of FOUR HUNDRED MEN!
What is Esau planning to do? Will he accept Jacob’s nearly 600 animal-strong present? Or will he burst in with guns blazing to finally take revenge on his scheming brother? We don’t know and neither does Jacob.
He says a prayer for deliverance and then sends his family away to avoid becoming collateral damage.
And then, he is alone.
Suddenly, out of nowhere Jacob is attacked. But not by Esau. A mysterious figure emerges from the shadows and lays a beat down on him.
But if you thought Jacob had spend the last 20 years getting manicures on his pansy shepherd hands, think again. The two of them fight all night!
I wrestled in P.E. class in high school so I know a think or two about gettin’ in scrounges. And one thing I’m sure of is that any match that lasts more than 2 minutes is about the most exhausting thing ever.
Jacob refuses to give up even when the man (who later turns out to be God. What?!) dislocates his hip. Ever try wrestling without being able to use your legs? It’s not easy.
But Jacob absolutely will not let go under any circumstances until he gets what he has always been looking for: Blessing.
And he gets it. Along with a limp. I’d say it was worth it.
What’s in A Name?
As a result of the fight, Jacob’s name is changed to “Israel,” which means “struggles with God.”
If I was going to choose a name for a people group that was to primarily be identified with the God they worshiped, I would not have chosen “Struggles with God.” Here is a list of names that would have been picked long before that one ever came up:
- Loves God
- Trusts God
- Believes in God
- Follows God
- Obeys God
- Submits to God
- Listens to God
Not “Struggles with God.” That one is too messy. The name implies conflict and fighting and disagreement and a lack of closure. I mean, who wins the struggle? Who initiates it? Why can’t we all just get along?
And yet, Israel will forever be known not for the things they did right or admirably, but for a wrestling match between God and a broken, fearful man who wouldn’t let go until he got his blessing.
So unless you want a faith where God literally tries to beat the crap out of you and has no problem leaving you with a limp, I suggest you look elsewhere.
What is the best beat down God has given you?