Posts Tagged ‘Jacob’



January 26, 2014

“Jacob was left alone.  And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.  Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.”  But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  Genesis 32:24-26

slagheap / / CC BY-NC-SA

I watched the video of a wrestling match in Georgia between high school wrestlers, Demetrius de Moors and Michael Lind. (2012 National Sportsmanship Awards – Demetrius de Moors)   The aspect of this wrestling match that makes it noteworthy from the thousands of other wrestling matches that occur every year is that Michael Lind has Down Syndrome.

Michael Lind was a member of his High School wrestling team but had never wrestled in a match.  Demetrius was set to compete in Georgia’s prestigious South Metro Wrestling Tournament and agreed to wrestle Michael in an exhibition match.  If you watch the video, you will see that the struggle was a complete mismatch.  Michael did not stand a chance against a wrestler like Demtrius, but why should he, Michael has Down Syndrome.

The appreciation that I have for Demtrius comes from the mercy that he showed Michael.  He allowed a match to be competitive that was not.  He allowed Michael to contend with him while the match could have been over in seconds.  He made Michael work rather than just rolling on his back.  Demitrius contended with Michael at the level of Michael’s ability for Michael’s good.

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel

This video brought to mind an even greater mismatch and display of mercy in the wrestling match between Jacob and God.  I could not help but think about Jacob and his wrestling match – probably the greatest wrestling match in history.

I am most encouraged by the mercy shown to Jacob in this incredible wrestling match.  Throughout the night, Jacob wrestled with a man on equal terms, but it was never equal.  The prophet Hosea tells us that Jacob was wrestling against God (Hosea 12).  The reality of the greatest wrestling match in history is it could have been over quicker than Demitrius could have pinned Michael.  However, God allowed it to continue all night long.  Why?

God contended all night long at Jacob’s level for Jacob’s good.

Jacob was not a good guy.  Jacob’s successes in life had come by cunning and deceit.  He had been dragging God’s blessing out under all sorts of circumstances.  He had outwitted Esau, Isaac and Laban.  He devised schemes to get blessings them.

I wonder when it was that Jacob realized his opponent was special.  We are not told when Jacob came to an understanding of his opponent but he surely would have know when his hip was supernaturally touched.  Jacob may have thought he was doing pretty well in his own strength – he was holding his own with God (if he knew that).  Jacob never asked for a blessing throughout the entire night of contending with the man.  I wonder if he was trying to earn it on his own.  Maybe, he was trying to force God to bless him.

All God had to do was supernaturally touch his hip and Jacob was defenseless, but God made Jacob work through a long night.  God broke through any delusions that Jacob may have had at the breaking of the day.  Jacob received a new revelation with the rising of the sun on that day – he could not win in his own strength.  At that point, all Jacob could do was hang-on, completely at the mercy of his powerful God, and beg for a blessing.  Jacob was shown that he could never prevail in his strength.

It is only by the power of faith and prayer, reaching with a firm hold on God, to the point of being blessed, that we prove, like Jacob, to be true wrestlers of God.

He strove with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor.  (Hosea 12:4)

The U.S. Army / / CC BY

I am reminded that God allows and even puts his people into difficult and sometimes impossible situations.  We all have an opportunity to contend in our own strength or prevail upon God.  We can resist, scheme, and manipulate, even against God himself.

However, we are always in a horrible mismatch.

I know that I am too quick to revert to my own strength just as Jacob did.  I have wrestled in my own strength through whole seasons of life.  I am blessed to know that God allowed, in His mercy, the gross mismatch to continue until I was humbled from the delusions of my strength.  I wonder how many times I have actually wrestled against my merciful Lord just to be taught once again that it is He who delivers me; Him and Him alone.

The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we can prevail upon God.  It cannot be done through good works or extreme devotion.  We wrestle with God and prevail upon our Father in heaven through faith and prayer.  We live by faith when we seek our Lord with broken hearts, calling upon His favor.

May we be quick to remember how to contend without the need for God to put us on our head.

PRAYER: Lord, I know that I can be a slow learner.  I know that I can be forgetful of lessons that I have already learned.  Thank you for your patience.  Thank you for your mercy that you have shown me while I contended in my own strength.  Father, grant me a teachable heart.  Humble me so that I will come to you in a manner that you will allow me to prevail upon you.  Grant me a faith that relies completely upon you.  Teach me how to do that.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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