I have been facinated with the not so patriarch, Jacob.
This guy was a hustler from the womb. Not willing to allow anyone ahead of him, even in the womb. Upon delivery with his twin brother, he grabbed the heal of his brother when he arrived and kept on grabbing after things his whole life.
You may remember these, his greatest hustles:
- He bargained for his brother’s birthright
- He deceived for his brother’s firstborn blessing
- Schemed for more of his uncle’s herds
- sent bribes to his brother hoping for acceptance
To those familiar with how his story ends and him becoming one of the Partiarch’s of the Faith (in Judiasm & Christianity) these hustles are well known. But his proclivity for scheming, deception and cheating puzzles me. His swindling, or as one could say, the art of his deals amaze me.
This guy had to run away from his family because of his dishonest dealings with his brother and dad. He hid out with his uncle for 20 years! That is some serious time to allow family anger to subside. And all the while God blessed him! In spite of and on top of who he was inside, a cheater, God still promises to bless him for generations to come.
But there came a time in Jacob’s life, where he was left alone with who he was. In his account in Genesis, we read:
During the night, Jacob arose, woke up his wives, his maidservants, and eleven sons, and had them cross the ford of the Jabbok River. He sent them across along with everything he had, and Jacob was left all alone. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a man appeared and wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he was not winning the match, he struck Jacob’s hip and knocked it out of joint, leaving it wrenched as he continued to wrestle with him. Eventually, the man said to him, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob refused. “No! Not until you bless me!” “What is your name?” asked the man. “Jacob,” he replied. “Not anymore.” the man said to him. “Your new name is Israel, for you have struggled both with God and with people and have overcome.”Genesis 32:22-29 TPT
There is so much in this passage, so let’s unpack it.
Jacob came to a place of emptying out himself of everything, his spouse, children, and servants. He released all he had only to be left with all he was. Alone, in that place, he wrestled with a mysterously appearing man (many believe the man to be God, some say it was the guardian angel of Esau and still others say it was satan.) What matters here for me is that Jacob, all by himself is wrestling with his identity, his walk, and his very his name.
And isn’t it interseting that his wrestling happens at Jabbok, which means “emptying”. The Jabbok River emptied into the Jordan River above the Dead Sea. Here, is where Jacob emptied himself and wrestled with God for His blessing. It was at daybreak that Jacob’s breakthrough came. Having prevailed as he did in the womb, he did not relent and grabbed his blessing – a new walk and a new name.
At Penuel, having first emptied himself, he wrestled with who he was and he actually saw the face of God, and lived to tell about it. This encounter marked him for life, his name and his walk.
This is Jacob’s story, but what puzzles, amazes, and facinates me is this:
- God fearfully and wonderfully made each of us Ps. 139:13-14
- He made us in His image GEn. 1:27
- He thinks innumerable thoughts of love and blessing for us Ps. 139:17-18
- He has chosen us & helps us Is. 44:2
- He named us Is. 49:1
- He redeemed us Jn. 3:17
- He calls us His children Jn. 1:12
- He accepts and empowers us as we wrestle with our own weakness & shor comings 2 Cor. 12:9
- We have this divine treasure in our earthen vessels 2 Cor. 4:7
How can it be that the very God who made me in His likeness still loves, accepts and uses me, the one who is so prone to sin, manipulation, dishonesty, judgment, compromise, selfishness, pride and arrogance? How can it be that Jacob’s story is really mine? I too have personality traits far from godly.
His whole life he was known for certain traits, by his family, associates and city. Jacob, the deceiver. And yet, Jacob emptied himself in that moment, and stood alone before God, wrestling for a bigger blessing upon his life. From that place he emerged as a Prince with God, his true destiny as our Partiarch.
And so it is with me, with you. Those very traits, designed into our personality by God, He refines and uses them for His will. He sands off our prickly, rough edges and causes us to hold the weight of His presence. He sharpens our iron sharp wills and galvanizes us with His will, unshakable, unmoveable. We hold this treasure in earthen, weak, vessels, that His power can show forth in spite of our weaknesses. In fact, His power is made perfect in our weakness.
When I look within, I cry with the prophet of old, “O, wretched man that I am!”. I am wrestling with who I am. I am wrestling with who I want to become. I, like Jacob, will not let God go until He blesses me, and changes my walk and empowers my new name.
Emptying myself of those “warts and all”, I see His face and what I want to become. I want more! More of Him.
If you too, have wrestled or are wrestling with who you are, please know that you are not alone. Remember Jacob. Remember me. Join us in the match of a lifetime and be confident that in the end, you will walk away changed, and very much alive, having seen the face of God.
Won’t you join us as we wrestle with who we are and who we are becoming.