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.” — Genesis 32:28
The man was right: Jacob had struggled his entire life, literally from birth. Jacob and his twin brother were a woman’s worse pregnancy nightmare, making those nine months difficult for their mother, Rebekah. Jacob and Esau even struggled with one another to be the first one out of the womb. Esau was first, but Jacob was clasping Esau’s ankle at the same time.
Jacob continued to struggle with Esau during their youth until he deceptively stole Esau’s birthright and Isaac’s blessing that should have been reserved for the eldest son. At Rebekah’s insistence, Jacob runs for safety back to his mother’s family.
He fell in love with the beautiful Rachel and contracts with her father, Laban, to exchange seven years of farm work for Rachel’s hand in marriage. At the wedding, Laban switches the beautiful Rachel for her older sister, Leah, and Jacob is tricked into working another seven years for the hand of Rachel in marriage, too.
After more years pass with Laban continuing to trick Jacob into staying longer, Jacob turns the tables and heads back home — knowing he’ll face Esau. When he reaches the ford at Jabbok, Abraham sends his four wives, eleven sons, and flocks to the other side of the river.
It is here, the Bible tells us, that Jacob wrestled with God. It is here that the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac became the true God of Jacob… and God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Jacob received the blessing he had fought so hard for during so many years.
You’ll find this story in Genesis 32.
Thinking about Jacob’s wrestling with God can only lead to thoughts of the WrestleMania we find the world in today. The list of foes is long. But why are you wrestling with God? What blessing do you need today?