Jacob struggled with feelings of inferiority. Esau was a big burly and hairy guy, and was favored by Isaac (their father). Jacob on the other hand was favored by his mom. He desperately wanted the affection and affirmation of his dad.
Jacob tricked his father and he got what he wanted, but he very quickly came to find out, just how unsatisfying it was. That's the whole story of Jacob’s life. Jacob was grasping at every blessing the world had to offer, and this in turn made him completely miss that God himself IS the blessing that his heart was crying out for.
C.S. Lewis -
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy,
the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.
This is when Jacob finally finds clarity: when He is alone, he’s afraid for his life, and there’s really nothing earthly that he can turn to that is going to change his circumstance.
When Jacob is alone, and all hope is lost, he stops looking for hope in worldly things, and he starts to pursue God. But, he doesn’t just give up and say,
“fine God, you win!” like so many other characters in scripture… He struggles with God.
24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.
25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.
God touches Jacob's hip, and with a tiny tap wrenches his hip out of socket, just to prove that he had the strength all along and was ALLOWING Jacob to fight back.
26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Somewhere in this exchange, I think we see a character shift in Jacob. Jacob goes from tricking his earthly father into blessing him, to wrestling with God, and asking him for a blessing that is going to last. Jacob came to realize that God is really what he needed all along. And, God does in fact bless him:
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
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