“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” (Genesis 32:28)
Respond: Israel. Yitzra-el. Fights God.
I’m not a fan of watching fighting. I don’t like MMA or boxing and I certainly don’t like WWE, RAW or whatever it’s called these days. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good war movie or a good Jet Li-Bruce Lee type of movie. That’s different. It’s cinematography. It’s artistry. Wrestling? There’s something I find repulsive about two guys stepping into a ring and beating each other’s faces in. If you like it, more power too you. Me, I’d rather watch a chick flick or pull my fingernails off with a spoon.
But that’s exactly what Jacob did. (Wrestle, not the fingernails thing) He separated his family into two groups, crossed this river, and had an all night long, no holds barred, cage match with God. Crazy thing about it, he actually won. Personally, I think God was throwing the match, but all we know for sure is that at the end God tells Jacob to let Him go, but Jacob says, “Not until You bless me.” So God gave him a new name. No longer was Jacob known as a tricky deceiver. Now he was known as a prize fighting champion.
React: Jacob was rightly afraid. His past was catching up with him and he feared for his life. More than that, he feared for the lives of his family. The sin of Jacob’s past was threatening to come back around and destroy everything he had and loved. Have I run away from my past sin? Have I ignored, or hid, or tried to escape from the consequences of my past sin? When my past is threatening to destroy not just me but everything I hold dear, what am I willing to do about it? Am I willing to go toe to toe with God? Am I willing to get away from this world to fight, and keep on fighting until I have the victory? How serious am I? How desperate am I for a change? Am I willing to do whatever it takes?
God, sometimes I don’t want to fight, even when I need to. It is easier to run. It is easier to hide. But there are demons in my past, there are mistakes I’ve made that I need to deal with. It is not just about me. There are people I love, people who trust me, that deserve to have me at my best. Help me to hold on to You. Help me to wrestle with You until You have changed my nature.