The One Who Struggles with God

Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Genesis 32:28

Jacob was at a crucial point in his life where he had to face his brother Esau whom he betrayed. He feared his brother as he remembered what he actually had done to him. Only sometime back he was running away from his Father-in-law, Laban. Now he is running into a much bigger problem in the form of his brother. That is when he prayed that prayer that is in Genesis 32, a prayer of introspection asking God for answers, and reminding God about all the promises He made to him at Bethel when he was running away fearing his brother. Now he is running into his brother again engulfed by the same fear at the ford of Jabbok. After sending everyone including his wives ahead, he was left alone with no one but a man wrestling with Him. Jacob understood He is none but God Himself and pleaded, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” But there was rather a strange reply from the other side, “what is your name?” Jacob would have felt how come the Almighty doesn’t know my name. It was the same question asked by his father many years ago but the reply was different this time. He replied, Jacob, which means “Deceiver”. Jacob was literally cornered, in order to realise his mistakes. But God wanted to do something different in his life this time and He wanted Jacob to accept who he was and is. In our Christian life, we can also see the same thing happening where forgiveness is actually followed by accepting our wrongdoings and repenting of our sins. A point where we say, “Lord, I no longer try to prove that I’m right, but accept what I really am, a wretched sinner not worthy of your love.” God changed his name at that point of time as Israel which also means “The One who struggles with God”, a point of realisation that changed Jacob’s destiny. He indeed became the father of many nations!

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