JACOB WRESTLES WITH A “MAN"
"And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:8).
I Jacob's Homeward Journey
1. Met by the angels of God, [Genesis:32:1-2]; [Hebrews:1:14]; [Psalms:91:11]; [Psalms:34:7].
2. A message sent to Esau, [Genesis:32:3-5].
3. The messengers' return, and the results, [Genesis:32:6-8]; [Deuteronomy:1:17]; [Proverbs:29:25]; [Isaiah:51:12]; [Luke:12:4-5].
II Jacob's Effective Prayer
1. God's promises claimed, [Genesis:32:9-12]; [Genesis:22:17]; [Genesis:31:3]; [Job:5:19]; [Psalms:91:4], [Psalms:91:15].
2. Preparation to appease Esau -- Restitution, [Genesis:32:1-15]; [Leviticus:6:4]; [Luke:19:8-9]; [Acts:24:16].
3. Instructions to his servants, [Genesis:32:16-20]; [Proverbs:6:3]; Proverbs:22:4].
III Jacob's Consecration
1. His possessions sent over the brook, [Genesis:32:21-23].
2. Alone with God, [Genesis:32:24]; [Daniel:10:8]; [Matthew:6:6].
3. Wrestling with a man until the break of day, [Genesis:32:24-26]; [Hosea:12:4]; [Matthew:7:7]; [James:5:16].
4. The blessing gained -- Sanctification, [Genesis:32:27-32]; [Genesis:17:1-10]; [Genesis:35:9-15]; [Leviticus:20:8]; [John:17:15-17]; [Ephesians:5:25-27]; [1 Thessalonians:4:3]; [Hebrews:13:12]; [1 John:4:18].
In the 91st Psalm, verse 11, we read that God shall give His angels charge over us to keep us in all our ways. This appearance mentioned in the first verse of our lesson was no doubt of great encouragement to Jacob, and that was the divine purpose of the visitation.
Following the manifestation of the host of Heaven, Jacob sent his servants to his brother Esau with a message of importance. It contained a tone of humility, "Thy servant Jacob saith thus," and also words, which should have served to allay any fears that Esau might have had regarding the further loss of his possessions. Especially are those thoughts apparent when he said: "And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and women-servants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight" (Genesis:32:5).
However, the returning messengers brought a message that caused Jacob to be greatly disturbed and afraid. This fear caused Jacob again to manifest a spirit of humility in his prayer unto God, in which he reminds God of the promises: "O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant" (Genesis:32:9, 10).
True conversion is always followed by a desire to make restitution -- to restore that which is unlawfully gained. Zacchæus was quick to reveal this spirit when he found the Lord and experienced a miraculous change of heart([Luke:19:8]). And Jacob may have had a desire at this time to send his brother princely gifts to compensate for the temporal loss Esau might have sustained in being deprived of his birthright and blessing ([Ezekiel:33:15]). It was the custom to appease those who were offended by sending them gifts: "I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me" (Genesis:32:20).
Full realisation that divine help was available and that he stood in desperate need of something from God, spurred Jacob on to a deep consecration; and we find him sending all his possessions over the brook, and he remained alone with God.
Consecration is the foundation of everything we receive from God. And when we have laid everything on the altar God expects us to pray until we hear from Heaven. He admonishes us not to cease praying: for we have His promise of an answer ([Psalms:86:7]). Jacob refused to be denied, and wrestled with the "man" until the blessing came: "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me" (Genesis:32:26).
This was definitely the time of Jacob's sanctification. And just as Abraham was sanctified when God gave him the covenant of circumcision (Genesis 17) and his name was changed from Abram to Abraham, so Jacob was now sanctified, and Jacob ("supplanter") became Israel ("a prince of God").
Perhaps Jacob's request that the man with whom he wrestled should tell his name was merely for the confirmation of what Jacob already realised -- that he had wrestled with someone greater than a man: "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved" (Genesis:32:30). It is certain that after wrestling with this mysterious personage through the night Jacob knew that he was not contending with an ordinary man, for Jacob's thigh was thrown out of joint as a result of the "man's" touch.
Jacob also prayed for a blessing from his opponent, showing by this request that he knew this person was capable of giving him a blessing, saying that he would not let the "man" go until the blessing was received.
It may be that the long wrestling was due to the fact that God was requiring consecrations from Jacob that he was reluctant to make. But because of the consecrations finally made, his perseverance, and his faith, the experience of sanctification was given to him and his name was changed to Israel: "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed" (Genesis 32: 28).
Old Testament sanctification is exactly the same as the New Testament experience. The Adamic nature is alive even after salvation and must necessarily be exterminated. Jacob, like all mankind, had inherited the nature of sin, and he sought victory over it. He could not commit sin and remain right with God, for "whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." He did need to have the inbred sin removed, and found this experience. Consecration was necessary (Romans:12:1), and the results were achieved ([Leviticus:20:8]), as was manifested in the life of the patriarch henceforth.
1. With what encouragement does Jacob meet on his journey?
2. What disturbing news is brought by the returning messengers?
3. What steps does Jacob take upon receiving his messengers?
4. Had God given Jacob reason to believe the Lord would be with him in returning?
5. What is always necessary for receiving a blessing from the Lord?
6. Did Jacob fulfil this requirement? How?
7. What is signified by Jacob's wrestling with a man?
8. Was the result that which Jacob desired?
9. What blessing did he receive?
10. What other patriarch had received this same blessing and had his name changed?