‘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 (Genesis 32:28).”’
Sometimes I struggle to find a theme for the next blog! What does God want me to present to those who have been predestined (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:5) by Him to read my words? Well. here is the word He wants me to bring:
The Struggles of Jesus
Things in life are far from easy, especially for followers of Jesus – for they suffer like Him (1 Peter 4:1), but not to the utmost depths of suffering for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2), as did He. He, Himself had struggles, the greatest of which must have been in the garden of Gethsemane. He cried out to God, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will (Matthew 26:39),” and, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done (V 42).” He could not be released from His mission of salvation, the very purpose for which He came to the earth (1 Timothy 1:15).
The Struggles of Jacob
In God’s providence He has made me [and you – if you are His] to be ambassadors for (2 Corinthians 5:20; [cf Ephesians 6:20]) reconciling the unsaved to the Him. Before they can be reconciled they will have a struggle, just like Jacob who fled from Laban who had afflicted him (Genesis 31:42).
Laban caught up with the fleeing Jacob who pleaded his case of having been unfairly exploited by his father-in-law, yet at the same time he had *swindled him (Genesis 30:37-43)! This swindler was chosen of God, and astonishingly he would become the father of the tribes of Israel and through the line of David would come the Messiah [Jesus] (John 7:42), who was of the tribe of Judah (Hebrews 7:14; cf Genesis 29:35).
After making a pact of reconciliation with Laban, i.e., a ‘covenant’ (Genesis 31:44-54), Jacob and his family with all their possessions departed for Canaan. Laban returned to his home (V 55).
That was not the end of Jacob’s struggles; for, as he went on his way He came face to face with God who wrestled with Him. Jacob would not let go of Him until He gave him a blessing (Genesis 32:22-32), and God renamed him ‘Israel’ (Genesis 35:1), which means ‘Prince with God’.
Our Struggles with God
We too, when we come face to face with God [not literally] at the time of His calling us to worship His Son, i.e., our new birth in the Spirit (John 3:3-6), struggle with Him. Repenting of our sin and taking hold of our new life in Him and losing our old life (Matthew 10:34-39; 16:25) in the world can be likened to Jacob’s wresting with God. Once having met God and taken hold of Him (Isaiah 27:5, 6), we will want His continuous blessing (Ephesians 1:3); we will want to keep hold of Him and never for Him to abandon us, which of course, He will never do (Matthew 28:20b; 1 Thessalonians 3:16). As with Jacob (Genesis 35:9-11), He will bless us and lead us to His Promised Land.
*Also Jacob swindled Esau from his birthright (Genesis 27; see verses 34-37).