Year 2 Day 264
Read - Genesis 32
Message - Scott Woodburn
Unfortunately for Jacob even though the problem of Laban seemed to be solved another problem called Esau was still to come. Jacob was greeted by angels at Mahanaim and yet that awesome sight was soon blotted out by the anger of Jacob’s older brother. Jacob wanted peace and so sent messengers to Esau seeking Esau’s favour (v5) The troubling response was that Esau was on his way to meet Jacob with 400 men (v6).
Despite the sight of God’s angels, Jacob was greatly afraid (v7). He divided his camp in two so that not everyone would perish under an Esau attack and then he cried to the Lord for deliverance (v9). Jacob understood that God is full of steadfast love and faithfulness (v10). Surely the Lord wouldn’t allow Esau to slay Jacob? The Lord had said that He would greatly multiply Jacob and His offspring (v12). Would He now break His promise? Jacob’s prayer was confident and yet Jacob’s next action was to take matters into his own hands.
He gathered together a massive collection of goats, rams, camels, calves, cows, bulls and donkeys and sent them on ahead. This was to be a gift for Esau as Jacob thought that his brother could be appeased by such a present (v20). Jacob’s effort was unnecessary. He trusted in the Lord’s protection and provision and he had witnessed God’s sovereignty over Laban’s rage. Why then did Jacob feel the need to try and sort out the Esau problem himself?
Jacob’s self-sufficiency would soon be wrestled out of him. It was night and Jacob stood alone on the bank of the river Jabbok (v22). He couldn’t go back to Laban and ahead of him was Esau and a small army. What was to be done? The Lord provided the answer.
Out of nowhere a man came and attacked Jacob and the two entered into a long drawn out wrestling match (v24). Was this man a robber? Was he an assassin from Esau? No. This man was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Later Jacob recognises that he has met with the Lord (v30). So the individual who wrestles with Jacob is Jesus. This is a Christophany - an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament. This teaching is underlined by the testimony of Hosea 12v2-5.
So if this is Jesus, why is it that Christ doesn’t prevail over Jacob (v25)? Was Jacob stronger than God? No. My friends consider the power of Christ - at one touch he dislocates Jacob’s hip (v25b). If it was the will of God to humiliate and destroy Jacob, then he would have been humiliated and destroyed. Here we see the condescension of Christ, He willingly lowers Himself to our level and in this instance He is wrestling the self-sufficiency out of Jacob. As daybreak arrives Jacob is left clinging on to Jesus and refuses to let go until he receives a blessing (v26). Is Jesus so weak that He cannot break free? No. If the day arrives then Jacob will die for no one can see God and live (Exodus 33v20). Jacob is not in control here, indeed he is in great danger.
So what’s happening? With a disgruntled Laban behind him and a desperately angry Esau in front of him, Jacob is being disciplined. His ways have been sneaky and treacherous. He is Jacob by name and Jacob by nature. He is the one who grasped his brother’s heel and took his brother’s place and yet here Christ Himself gives sneaky Jacob a new name…from now on Jacob will be called Israel (v28).
What a blessing! Only God Himself can rename His people and in this instance He removes Jacob’s shame and reproach and gives him a new name that speaks of his striving with God. Yet Israel in a deeper way speaks of God’s striving for us. Jacob had nowhere to go but forward into the jaws of Esau’s twenty year old rage. But here is Jesus declaring to Jacob that God will strive for him. He is not on his own and never will be.
Jacob is left bruised and battered and limping but the victory will be his. Brothers and sisters, Christ is our Peniel (v30) for in Jesus we have seen God and lived. Christ is still the One who wrestles with us, subduing our sin and disciplining those whom He loves. Christ is still the One who wrestles for us, He stands against Satan’s plots and if He is for us, then who can be against us? By faith in Christ we have received a new name - we are Christians and for us the old has gone and the new has come.
Child of God, I know many of us carry the scars of battle and our once confident walk has been replaced by a limp but press on and cling on to Christ! Peace and mercy be upon you today, and upon the Israel of God which is Christ’s precious church.
Q29 How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ? We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.