Hands down, my favorite story in this whole book.
Why? Because at it’s essence, I find faith to be a knock-out, drag-out brawl.
What Jacob finds out here, is that to have Yahweh as your god (in contrast to Laban’s “household gods,” remember?) means sometimes you get jumped in the middle of the night and have to fight for your life.
Remember Jacob’s first encounter with God? He’d just swindled Esau out of his blessing and was running for his life across the country. Jacob is alone, asleep on a rock, and God shows up and makes promises to him. Most notably, God tells him I am with you, I will protect you.
It’s 20 years later. The scene is vividly similar. But Jacob’s on the return journey. He’s sent his caravan ahead of him, and he’s spending the night alone outdoors. Only this time, instead of serenely awesome dream, Jacob gets an attacker.
I can’t speak for you, but for me, my walk with God has left me with more black eyes and chipped teeth than warm fuzzies. And I have a limp. But I always find myself with the tenacity of a bulldog, desperately screaming, “I’m not letting go until you can tell me everything is going to be okay. I’m not quitting until you bless me.”
That’s Jacob. And in this moment God gives him a new name. Jacob means “trickster” or “schemer.” And man, did Jacob every live into that identity. But the name that God now gives him is Israel, or “wrestles with God.”
And that’s the name tagged on this family/nation on whom God pins all the hopes of the Redemption Plan.
The Ones Who Wrestle with God. Israel. Because faith isn’t easy.
What about you? What do you see?