In the last several posts we talked all about what God encounters were and were not and now we are going to look at one of the people of Bible who encountered God in a powerful way. The next several posts we will be looking the Old Testament character Jacob. He had quite the encounter with God that left him limping and changed in many ways – if you do not know this story please go and read at least Genesis 31 and 32 – if you wish you can click here to read it. The minimum I think you should know about his encounter is in this paraphrase of the Scripture of Jacob wrestling with God:
Jacob stayed behind by himself and this is where there is real mystery in what happened is written. We know that Jacob wrestled with a man until daybreak. We do not know how this happened but Jacob wrestles with the man. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.
The man said, "Let me go; it’s daybreak." Jacob said, "I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me." The man said, "What’s your name?" He answered, "Jacob."
The man said, "But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it is Israel; you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through." Jacob asked, "And what’s your name?" The man said, "Why do you want to know my name?" And then, right then and there, he blessed him. Jacob named the place Peniel because, he said, "I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!" The sun came up as he left Peniel, limping because of his hip being knocked out of joint.
There is so much we could look at with this encounter but for today let me get you to focus in on this thought - Different motivations drive us to seek God. Jacob was running scared before this encounter; he was running from an angry uncle and running towards an angry brother. He had nowhere else he could go so for a moment he was frozen in his fear, and then Jacob sought God alone in the night. But something happened in the night changed his life in many ways. Once he encountered God in the wrestling, Jacob would not let go of God – he held on for dear life. A constant thing in Jacob’s life was to hang on as seen by his willingness to work so long for his wives, so what Jacob always did in the past became the source of changing his life. He held on to God until he was changed by God. He held on tight!
Whatever your motivation for your encounter with God, be it fear, financial stresses, changes, cancer, divorce, or other problems or issues, whatever motivates you to seek God, hang on to Him and do not let go. When you get close enough to grab a hold of God, hang onto Him. Hold on to Him and get into the presence of God and intimate with Him, it will change your life. Hold on to God. Do not give up or in but hold tight!
A verse to cling to in all this is Psalm 56:3 which says: "Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You". Jacob was holding on when things looked bad – he was trusting God. His way did not work and now He was trusting God’s way.
Another thing we need to see is that: Concerns for family drives us into God’s presence to encounter Him. Jacob had wives and children, he constantly prayed for their safety. While his own life was a great concern, his prayer for his family was also on his lips. When God can’t get our attention any other way, He might reach us through our spouse or children. When you have concerns for your family – it will move you to the point of seeking God with everything you have so that you do not lose those most precious things in this life – your family. Sadly some are not moved to hold on for their family – they let go and it devastates all involved including the children.
If I can say anything to you – it is this – Hold on to Jesus! When you have problems and issues happening in life – Hold on to Jesus! Hold on till that encounter changes you!
Would you say that you have ever wrestled with God? If so, with what and how did it turn out ? (if your wrestling is over)