When You Finally Wrestle With God

Preached at FBC Toulon, IL, April 22, 2001 by Albert Harmon

 Gen 32:24-28

24Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks." But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!" 27So He said to him, "What is your name?" He said, "Jacob." 28And He said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed."


We often look at Jacob a wonder at all the schemes he was involved in. But we need to be a little more self reflective for we are not much different from Jacob.

Jacob had learned at an early age to connive and manipulate people to get what he wanted. Neither was he beyond a few shady dealings. He had schemed and had been pretty successful until he ran into Laban. Laban had a few more lessons to teach Jacob, but even in all of that Jacob came out ahead in the long run.

But in the passage today Jacob is not wrestling with his brother or his uncle. He is wrestling with God. And you never wrestle with God without in making a change in your life. There is much material not covered in this message since we saw Jacob pack up his bag and head for Haran. Much of it is important in order to understand what takes place in this passage. We will try to cover the important parts and commend you to a fuller study of Genesis 28-32.

  1. When God breaks in on your life. Gen. 28:10-22
    1. Jacob was on his way to Haran to get a wife and more importantly to get away from Esau.
    2. He found his first night interrupted with a dream.
    3. God had encountered Jacob as He never had before.
    4. Jacob realized that God was speaking to him and made a covenant with the Lord there and erected a memorial to the occasion.
      1. It could have been better than an "if" as Jacob said.
      2. It was as though Jacob was bargaining with God.
      3. But God would teach Jacob a few more things.
  2. When God puts you through school. Gen 29:
    1. The trickery of Laban
      1. What he had agreed to.
        1. They both agreed for Rachel as Jacob's bride after 7 years.
        2. Jacob never new that it would be any other way and it seems that Laban never made Jacob to doubt.
      2. Why he changed the promise.
        1. Because of the custom no doubt.
        2. But also because that Laban saw that in everything, God prospered Jacob.
        3. He needed a way to keep Jacob there.
        4. Jacob would no doubt have left after the first seven years had Laban not tricked him.
      3. Later Laban agreed to pay Jacob with certain animals of the flocks.
        1. But he changed the conditions 10 times.
        2. This he did because God was blessing Jacob to become grater than even Laban.
        3. Every time God would bless by giving more to Jacob than to Laban, Laban would change the agreement in order to get ahead.
    2. The lesson of the eldest daughter.
      1. I think it is amusing that even though he had displaced his older brother yet God will not allow him to displace the older daughter of Laban.
        1. Rachel was chosen for she was better looking than the older.
        2. But God does not look on the heart.
        3. It would be Rachel that would transgress in the idolatrous thing of steeling her father's idols when the fled.
      2. He might have accepted the marriage of Leah, as God's plan.
        1. We see this in the sons that are born to her are the to be the priests and kings, the firstborn and the greatest of the tribes.
        2. We see this in how God blessed Leah in the one thing she desired, the birth of children, she bore Jacob six sons, as many as the other three put together.
    3. The lesson of unrest in the home.
      1. Jacob not only took two women to wife but two sisters.
      2. This was never God's plan and God forbade the marrying of sisters in the law.
      3. In the Scriptures we see example after example of the tragedy of polygamy.
      4. There was only constant struggle in the home of Jacob.
      5. The rivalry between the two wives went to extremes at times.
    4. The lesson of changed wages.
      1. Jacob determined to return after the 14 years that he served for Rachel, but Laban came up with a plan to keep him there.
      2. He allowed Jacob to name his own wages, knowing full well that he would feel free to change them if things did not turn out favorable to himself.
      3. On the other hand Jacob put into effect a plan that would put himself in the advantage.
      4. It is good for us to see that Jacob was just as worldly in his thinking as was his uncle Laban.
      5. Even though Jacob had had an encounter with God yet he acted very similar to that of Laban.
    5. The lesson of betrayal
      1. The sons of Laban were beginning to look at Jacob as a thief of their father's wealth.
      2. They were considering doing away with Jacob.
      3. Even Laban who had bargained with Jacob for his wages was about to renege on everything.
      4. If it had not been for the dream that God sent to Laban, he would have taken everything from Jacob because he believed it to be his own.
        1. Gen 31:43And Laban answered and said to Jacob, "These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and this flock is my flock; all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day to these my daughters or to their children whom they have borne?
  3. When God brings crisis.
    1. The fear that filled Jacob was that Esau had never yet forgiven him for his deception.
      1. Twice he had taken from Esau what Esau thought to be his.
      2. He had taken the birthright for a bowl of soup.
      3. He and his mother had conspired to deceive the aged Isaac.
      4. Jacob and never forgotten that for all this Esau had promise to kill him.
    2. His fear was that Esau would come through with the promise to kill Jacob.
      1. So now as he returns his whole mind is focused on the supposed threat.
      2. He had to find a way to get out of it.
      3. Now Jacob had been told by the Lord to return with promises that the Lord would keep him.
      4. After Laban had left he had been met by some angels who also assured him
      5. But none of that was sufficient to satisfy Jacob the trickster.
      6. He would have to come up with a plan.
    3. Jacob went back to what he knew.
      1. He put together a plan to appease his brother.
      2. Some 580 animals were sent to Esau.
      3. He sent group after group to Esau as gifts to soften him; to buy his favor.
      4. Gen 32:20 For he said, "I will appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me."
      5. He then divided the family into two parts to save at least one of them.
      6. Jacob himself was with neither one.
      7. Now he had reason to be worried for Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men
  4. When you finally get it settled with God.
    1. More than anything else it was his circumstance that brought Jacob to encounter God.
      1. Gen 32:9Then Jacob said, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you': 10"I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. 11"Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. 12"For You said, 'I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.' "
      2. Sad to say many a man or woman does not get serious with God until the burden lies heavy upon them.
      3. Many times people play at knowing God until they cannot do without Him.
    2. But that all changed when Jacob had an encounter with the living God.
      1. His whole life was spent in getting for himself.
      2. He had made a conditional covenant with God, "if".
      3. He had promised to be faithful to God if God would bless him.
      4. But God is not to be bargained with.
      5. God is due all honor and blessing weather we are satisfied or not.
    3. Jacob had wrestled with brother, father, uncle, wives, sons and servants but now he is encountered by the living God.
    4. It was now that God's blessing was more important than any of those things.
    5. It is not until we want the Lord more than anything else that we can appreciate Him.

The end of life awaits us all. But how will it find us. Will we have done the best scheming that we could do?

Will we have filled our lives with all those things that can never satisfy?

Have we used people to get our own way just because we wanted it?

Have we like Jacob dealt falsely with who ever we needed to get our way?

That is why Jesus said those who seek to save their lives will loose them while those who seek to loose their life will find it.


This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com