Wrestling is surely the ultimate contact sport. Gripping an opponent in an arm or leg lock requires sweaty skin intimacy. Victory between equally matched opponents depends on intense and enduring focus. One lapse of concentration could end the match.
For Jacob to wrestle a blessing from God’s messenger shows just how much he valued that blessing. Jacob is the model for spiritual wrestlers.
Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.25 When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”28 He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there.30 So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” 31 Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. 32 Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip. (Gen. 32:24-32)
Jacob had a choice. He could have poured still more of himself into preparing to meet Esau. What else could he do or give to appease him? Should he rehearse his humble speech one more time, to make sure it sounded just right? Instead, he chose to focus on God in the form of a mystery man.
That’s our choice too, isn’t it? We can zoom in on the problem of the day, exploring every way to solve it or do damage control. We go beyond the reasonable measures that everyone should take and we strain to wring contingency plans from every angle of our inner anxiety. But do we really have to drain ourselves dry before we turn to God?
When problems don’t distract us perhaps pleasure does. How delightful to savor the anticipated joy of a relationship, career breakthrough, vacation or electronic toy. How many hours do we waste gazing through glazed eyes at a dreamy future?
Jacob made a wise choice, he stopped being distracted by Esau. Instead, he locked limbs with an unknown combatant because he prized God’s blessing above self-help projects.
Wrestling with God to gain His blessing is an act of worship. To really worship we must stop struggling to fix our own problems, turn from the distraction of either pain or excitement. In worship we focus on God. Worship is proportional to our intimacy with God; the degree to which we allow Him to touch our exposed lives. Worship requires faith, faith that our choice to engage in something that is often initially unpromising (like Jacob’s nameless man) will result in meeting God. And God imparts blessings that far outweigh anything we could ever gain by ourselves. The blessing of God lies in a dimension of its own.
The goal of Bible Maturity is to promote spiritual growth and faith in God. Please share these short Bible devotions with your friends and family and pray for revival.