One of the more fascinating stories in the Bible is when Jacob “wrestled God”.
Remember, Jacob literally means “supplanter, grasper, deceiver”, which was apropos, since he grasped his own brother’s (Esau's) heel at their birth. But he lived up to the “deceiver” title even more when, with his mom’s help, he tricked his blind father, Isaac, into giving him the family blessing. Then he left town in fear and disgrace. Yikes.
Can you imagine the shame Jacob lived in while living on the run all those years? He literally couldn’tgo home; he feared for his life. He was always unsettled, insecure, unsafe. AND he lived in constant awareness that he really was a "deceiver”.
Then God meets him. They fight. They chat. God dislodges his hip, then He changes his name to Israel, and blesses him.
I think, among other things, this story shows us this immutable truth: with God, ANYONE CAN CHANGE.
After wrestling through the night, God wounds Jacob’s hip, then He asks him what his name is.
Genesis 32:27 "So God asked him, 'What is your name?' He said, 'Jacob.'"
This was an identity question. God was confronting him on who he really was inside. And Jacob, knowing he couldn’t hide or run or explain away, admitted: “I’m a deceiver.”
Once Jacob admitted his failings and sin, three things happened:
1- God gives Jacob a brand-new identity
Genesis 32:28 “Then God said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.’”
Essentially, God says, “I know you’ve blown it; I know you’re conniving, but I see in you a prince -- beneath all your emotional hang-ups, all your insecurities, all the stuff you don’t want anybody else to know.” God is saying that today to many of us: “Beneath all of your sins and hang-ups, I see a princess/prince. You can be something great. You can be what I made you to be.”
2- God blesses Jacob/Israel
Genesis 32:29b “Then He blessed him there.”
Deep down, we desperately want God’s blessing. How else do you explain the constant striving, and proving ourselves, and self-validating, and excuse-making, and posing, and posturing? We want to show others, ourselves, and especially God, that we deserve blessing. But God blesses the humble, those who admit their weakness. Just like Jacob.
3- God gave Jacob/Israel a limp
Genesis 32:31 “The sun rose above him… and he was limping because of his hip.”
Jacob’s limp served as a daily reminder to depend upon God. What’s YOUR daily reminder? We all got a few. We all have areas in our lives that we simply cannot master, cannot control. We all have a limp. The limp causes us to acknowledge our powerlessness, and to look to --and lean on -- Him.
God does his deepest work in your life when He deals with your identity -- the person you truly are and the way you see yourself. You will always tend to act according to the way you think about yourself. So God does His deepest changes in your life by changing the way you see yourself.
He says, “Let me show you how I see you.” Because when you see yourself the way God sees you, it’s going to change your life.