Sooner or later, all who are being called by our beloved Father will have their personal encounter with their Creator. That comes in many ways. But looking back, you’ll know you had your “Encounter”. Some are very dramatic, like Paul’s experience on the way to Damascus (Acts 9). Jonah got up close and personal with the insides of a great sea creature God specially prepared. Sometimes, as I’ve experienced, it entails severe correction to wake us up. Some have astonishing dreams – like Jacob. And sometimes we have more than one major encounter – again, like Jacob, and his second time was an all-night struggle.
Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, was going back home after many years with Laban his uncle. Jacob’s brother Esau (also called Edom) had other plans. Without elucidating on all the details of the story which you can read for yourself in Genesis 32:22-32, Jacob encounters a Man and ends up wrestling with this Man all night long. Jacob was tenacious and so the Man (the One who became Yeshua!) shrank part of the muscles around Jacob’s hip joint, causing severe pain. Still, Jacob clung to the Man and would not let the Man go until He first blessed Jacob. The Man gives Jacob a new name: Israel, which can mean “contender with God; Prevailer, overcomer with God, prince of God”.
In the meantime though, Jacob’s hip was put out of place and the muscles had shrunk painfully. From then on, Israel walked with a painful limp. His walk had changed! Since your encounter with your Maker, has YOUR walk changed? I don’t mean the way you walk when going for a walk – but your way of life.
Read the rest of this short blog for some thought-provoking concepts.
Let’s read the account:
22 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. 23 He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. 24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He [the Man] touched the socket of his [Jacob’s] hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks."
But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!"
27 So He said to him, "What is your name?"
He said, "Jacob."
28 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."
29 Then Jacob asked, saying, "Tell me Your name, I pray."
And He said, "Why is it that you ask about My name?" And He blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: "FOR I HAVE SEEN GOD FACE TO FACE, and my life is preserved." 31 Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and HE LIMPED ON HIS HIP. 32 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.
Hosea 12:3-5 recounts this wrestling with this Being, and in Hosea it says “…he struggled with GOD (Elohim)”. This was the very One who would come to earth from God and be known as Jesus – or as I prefer, Yeshua (what His mama called Him).
Anyway, back to the point of this blog. It was after this that Israel really takes charge of his family, they put away the pagan idols and they worship at Bethel (Genesis 35:1-4). Bethel was where he was supposed to go in the first place (Genesis 31:13), as that is where Yehowah had made His initial appearance to Jacob with the vision of the Staircase to/from heaven (Gen. 28:10-22). So once again, God commands Jacob “Go back – I’m the God who met you at Bethel – Gen. 35:1-4.
While Jacob allowed himself to be sidetracked in Shechem (Genesis 32) he had nothing but trouble (the Dinah calamity and wiping out a whole city). If you feel like everything is coming AT you all at once as well, maybe you’re driving the wrong way and need to get off that road and on to the Way that God wants you on.
I’ve had to learn and re-learn this lesson so many times in my life, to my shame and anguish. I pass it on for what it’s worth to you. Hopefully as I get older now I will with His help be able to stay on the right path more of the time – and “go to Bethel”, which means “House of God”. You and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).