Today we will finish the posts on Jacob and his encounter with God. Jacob in his encounter with God wrestled with God and it changed everything for him. It changed the direction of his life and even changed his name. In this post we will continue to look at Jacob and again if you are unfamiliar with him please read 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.
In looking at Jacob’s encounter we have seen that different motivations drive us to God and for Jacob it was family issues and problems. We have seen family issues do drive us to seek the presence of God and they push us to seek direction from God about them. We also talked about the paradox that we must give up the most precious things in order get all that God has for us. We will encounter God when it seems like everything is lost. God will also encounter those that seek There are some tough things to learn but if you wrestle with God you will find that God does not want things easy for us but He simply wants us to hold on tight to Him through all we go through.
As we finish I want you to consider this: Seeking God is something you must do alone. Jacob’s wives or children couldn’t help him seek God’s presence. Laban and Esau were not able to spiritually help him. Jacob wrestled alone with God, and prevailed. He saw God face to face. You cannot wait for your spouse to go with you in your journey to God, it is a lonesome journey, and it’s a journey you take by yourself. As Abraham interceded alone for Sodom . . . as Moses interceded alone on Sinai . . . as Elijah alone stood against 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel . . . so you must seek God’s face alone. Are you willing to seek God and are you willing to hear what he has to say to you and change what he isays change?
You will hear this idea a number of times as we go through this series and that is: We are usually surprised by God’s encounter with us. Jacob didn’t expect God’s presence that night. He retreated there to hide because he was afraid after taking his family across the brook and was probably there to pray to God and not wrestle with Him. God will encounter you but will you recognize it?
Jacob was surprised to find himself in the presence of God. Sometimes we go to church, never expecting to meet God, but in the unusual and unexpected places, we are surprised by God. God wants and desires to surprise you with an encounter with Him. He wants to do it right here and now! Consider this verse Psalm 61:2 – "When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to a rock that is higher than I” You have to get out of the way and let God come in and change you and that is the problem why many will not – they are too stuck on it being about them. You hear it in all their conversations words like: me, my, and I. You need to cling to Him and get rid of me, my, and I because they are deadly foes of God encounters.
In the end: After the blackest experiences at the lowest times of life, the dawn comes where we understand our encounter with God. For several days, Jacob lived in a dark valley that became progressively darker. The more Jacob manipulated circumstances, the worst they became. Let me say – the same is true for you – the more you try to manipulate people and things your way – the worse they will become. It is only in seeking God and doing things His way where relief is found! Only in the darkest experiences did Jacob meet God and was eventually was blessed by God. When we come to the end of our way, we need to turn to God. He will come to us. There always is a bright shining morning that follows the storms of the night. Hold on till the morning! Hold on tight like Jacob did and you will encounter God. He will change things for you!
Oh there is such great encouragement in Psalm 30 which says: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning . . . You have turned for me my mourning into dancing, You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness"
That is what a God encounter is – it is the joy that comes in the morning. It is not grieving but dancing. It is not being clothed in sadness but in gladness! You might come to God weeping, grieving, and wearing sackcloth but you leave a true encounter with God – you will do it joy, dancing, and clothed in gladness.
Do you have any insights to share on this encounter that I did not? I would love to hear them!