Jacob wrestled with God and God blessed him. (Gen.32:23-31)
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An answer to a question posed by a friend.”What is this story of Jacob about? What does it mean for us today. What does it say about Jesus?”
At first this seems like a very strange story. However, like most of the Old Testament stories, this story is symbols and types of covenants and peoples. When seeking the meaning of any such scripture we must always do so from the position of God’s favor/grace and for the purpose of finding Christ and truths about his kingdom and New Covenant, then suddenly we will find that things make sense: Col. 2:17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
A key verse in understanding this story is : Rom. 9:13 Jacob I loved but Esau I hated.
Jacob represents the New Covenant believer; the undeserving sinner who is forgiven and now has Gods unmerited favor / grace. Jacob lived in the time before the Law of Moses had been given to Israel. Jacob was under the grace covenant of faith, just like his fore-fathers, Abraham (Rom.4:1-5) and Isaac. God renamed Jacob (=deceiver & usurper), Israel, (=he will rule as God) and the twelve tribes of Israel were the sons of Jacob – that’s how much favor Jacob, the deceiver, had with God. Amazing and offensive – but that’s grace!
Esau, on the other hand, represents the religious, Law focused, self sufficient, works orientated man, who is self righteous and pride filled. The man who thinks he doesn’t need to be saved nor rely on God. It is interesting to note that Esau eventually aligned himself with Ishmael, who represents the violent, religious legalist (Gal.4:22-31).
Esau – the self righteous – God hates, plain and simple.
This story is a good news lesson for us today.
When we are in grace it’s OK to be intimate and real with God. Wrestling is an intimate thing. The Hebrew word to wrestle means to get down and get dusty together. In grace it’s OK to wrestle with God about fears, the troubles of life and sin. Jacob was wrestling with fear and worry about Esau (the Law) who Jacob thought was going to kill him – that’s because legalists and the Law always brings fear and death (2Cor.3:6).
Jacob wrestled with a man, with God. This was Jesus the man/God. This represents how we too can wrestle with the issues of life with Jesus, especially at night (this event took place at night) when the fears and anxieties of life most often come against us.
Under the Law to question,to wrestle with, to look upon, or to be intimate with God meant death – but under grace it’s OK and actually results in a blessing. God wants his sons and daughters to be real and intimate with him – unbelievable but true under the New Covenant of the Grace of Jesus.
God weakening Jacobs hip is a symbolic reminder to us that New Covenant living is about us accepting that in the flesh we are weak – only when we are weak can God be strong for us and carry our loads. When you have a weak hip, like Jacob, you cannot carry any load – see the symbolism? 1Cor1:27. 2Cor.12:9 Matt.11:28
Legalists will say, how dare you question and wrestle with Almighty God. But God the Father says come my children, let’s wrestle together and bless each other.
As a Dad I have often wrestled with my sons and daughters and we used to love it and laugh a lot together, it was wonderful.
Try it with your heavenly Father, be intimate, be real, take your doubts and fears to him …. I promise He can cope with you, He delights in you, His beloved child and He will wrestle with you.