Christ at Peniel
"And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God' host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim." (Genesis 32:1-2)
"And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob' thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him , and said, Tell me , I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob' thigh in the sinew that shrank." (Genesis 32:24-32)
There is no excuse for Jacob's fleshly wrestling at Peniel. Had he received a specific word from the Lord to return? Had not the angels of God met him and didn't he call the place 'Mahar- aim' in recognition of the fact that with God's host above him and his own large company around him, no one could possibly prevail against him? Surely these were grounds enough not to judge the heavenly messenger as having any other purpose than to bless and comfort him as he faced the prospect of meeting Esau again.
Sadly, there is still too much of the scheming, devious, evasive, self-dependent Jacob. He failed to take account of all that the Lord had done to prepare him for this visitation. Do we miss His gentle interventions in our lives still? That He goes before us is something of which we can be certain, but do we notice His footprints in the sand?
The night fell at last and Jacob is alone. He has set out his considerable scheme to appease Esau and all lies stealthily in place. Yet he is a nervous and tense man. No prayers, no falling down before the God of Bethel - just a lonely frightened man. How is it that we tell the Lord so often that we trust Him, need Him and rely on Him and yet in the end resort to our own feeble and futile resources. Note the worry of the disciples when faced with providing bread for the multitude! (John 6:5-9)
These are the reasons for Jacob's wrestling instead of resting when the divine Visitor came. Jacob does not prevail while he wrestles. The Visitor, when He sees that He is gaining no ground with a struggling Jacob, will force a sense of submission on him an touches his thigh. Self-sufficiency is a painful pathway and has no fruitful end if we persist (Rom. 7:24).
Jacob has to own he is Jacob before he can be blessed. We do well to note our own utter inability without the Lord. As we sit and share our burdens with Him, let's cast aside all other ways but His (Exodus 33:14-16). It’s pride that keeps us away from blessing.
Once the confession is out, a Jacob can become an Israel, a Prince with God! He can move forward into the new day, a dependent man. He has seen God and needs no more!
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