Friday, January 8, 2016

Wrestling Match

   "And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok.  He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had.  Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.  Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.  And He said, 'Let Me go, for the day breaks.'
    But he said, 'I will not let You go unless You bless me!'
    So He said to him, 'What is your name?'
    He said, 'Jacob.'
    And He said, 'Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.'
    Then Jacob asked, saying, 'Tell me your name, I pray.'
    And he said, 'Why is it that thou ask about My name?' And He blessed him there.
    So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: 'For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.'  Just as he crossed over Peniel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.
    Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob's hip in the muscle that shrank."
 Genesis 32: 22-32

  I've always been curious about this passage, and have not completely understood it.  I couldn't sleep last night, and the Lord brought it to my mind. I read it over and over in the wee hours of the morning, trying to make sense of it.  I googled some commentaries, and I prayed through it.  What I came to is this:  that just as Jesus would humble himself and become a servant, God humbled himself in this situation as well and allowed Jacob to wrestle with him, in the flesh.  He humbled himself so much, in fact, that he even allowed Jacob to feel as if he could have a "real" wrestling match, with Him.  God Himself.  If you believe God is who He says He is, then he holds the earth and the heavens and the mountains and the waters and not to mention all power in his hands...and I don't know about you, but I'm just not sure I want to get into a wrestling match with this guy. And yet, I do. And amazingly, he allows it.

  Have you ever wrestled with a child?  A loving parent or grandparent does so tenderly, with a "pretend" toughness borne out of love and kindness.  A desire to touch the beloved child, come down to their level, and allow them to feel a realness in the tussle.  But the reality is that with one flexure of a muscle, the adult could snap a tiny arm in two, if he wanted. But of course that would never happen.  The love and protection of the child by the parent or grandparent is far too great.  To me, that is a picture of what is going on here.  God demonstrates his ability to overcome Jacob with a single touch in verse 25 when he simply touches Jacob's hip socket, and Jacob is immediately debilitated.

 Jacob quickly realizes at that point that he is in the hands of Someone who is much more powerful than he.  Who has not only incredible power, but also the ability to bless.  And in typical Jacob fashion, determined and overly confident, he tells the Man that he will not let Him go unless He gives a blessing.  Jacob acknowledges the Man's power and ability to bless. His weakness moves to (slightly stubborn!) submission, and through submission, strength comes.  

   Have you ever wrestled with God over something?

   One of the most beautiful, too-lovely-for-words, absolutely breathtaking attributes of my God's character is this:  His tender kindness and compassion to us even in the midst of our own mess.  A picture of this that the Lord impressed upon me a few weeks ago is the tenderness and care he showed Adam and Eve in the garden, after they had sinned.  They had hurt Him, and were faced with shame and disgrace because of their own actions, not God's, and yet the Bible says that "The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them." What a precious picture of the Lord's compassion for us.  Another example of this is the prophet Jonah.  He was swallowed by that fish--and yet the greater miracle is that despite his disobedience, and in all his fear, worry, and wrecked emotions--he was already provided for.  He was providentially not swallowed up or consumed.  In his darkest moment, there was provision.  Romans 5:8 says "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  Sometimes I can't wrap my mind around this concept.  Sometimes I think that there's no way it really means me.  There's no way God can really feel that way about me.  But Scripture says that He does.  

I am grateful.

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