10 Feb The fight you must learn to lose
22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 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. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.
I titled the sermon for today, “The fight you must learn to lose.” I am sure many of you straight away think, “Hold on. No one gets into a fight to lose. I fight in order to win. I don’t get into a fight that I think I cannot win. If I fight, I’ll do everything I can to win. What do you mean by a fight that I must learn to lose? It does not make any sense!” And I agree with you. This does not make logical sense. But you must understand that there is a fight that if you win the fight, you actually lose. But if you lose the fight, you actually win. It is the kind of fight that you win by losing. And this fight is not optional. Every Christian must fight this fight. This is the most important fight in your life. It is more important than the fight for the love of your life. It is more important than the fight to achieve your dreams. It is the fight for life itself. This is the fight that marks the rest of your life. And in this most important fight of your life, you must not win. You must learn to lose. For in losing this fight, you win. To explain what I mean, we will take a look at the climax of the life of Jacob. This is the fight that changes Jacob’s life forever. But in order for you to understand the significance of this fight, you need to understand Jacob’s history first. The story of Jacob is one the most fascinating story in the whole Bible. The story of Jacob is the story of grace. Jacob is one of the very few “heroes” in the Bible whose life is a mess from beginning to the end. You almost never see Jacob did anything right. He makes mistake after mistake but God’s relentless grace continues to pursue Jacob and transform him into a new man. So, let’s dive in into Jacob’s life.
Jacob was a natural born wrestler. He spent majority of his life trying to wrestle everyone around him to get what he wanted. Let me tell you a bit about Jacob. Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebecca. So he was the grandson of Abraham. And we know that God promised Abraham that from his descendants, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. And not only that, but when we read the book of Genesis as a whole, we know that God will save the world through Abraham’s family. Out of Abraham’s descendants, will come the Messiah that will save the world. With another word, God is saying, “In every generation there will be a messianic seed, because someday, out of your family will come one person, one figure, one of your descendants, one of your seed, who will be the Messiah who will end sin and death in the whole world.” Therefore, in every generation, there will be one child, one man, one leader of the family, who carries the Messianic seed. He will receive the special blessing. We know that Abraham has two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. But Isaac was the son of promise and not Ishmael. It’s not hard for us to accept because Isaac was the son of Abraham’s legitimate wife, Sarah. But here lies the problem. Isaac and Rebecca gave birth to twin boys, Esau and Jacob. Who will be the one who carries the special blessings?
Culturally speaking, the one who comes out first. The one who comes out first is considered the first-born and will inherit the blessings. Yet God in his sovereignty said that he has chosen the younger over the older. Isaac and Rebecca knew this. It’s crystal clear. So, Esau came out first. But then something odd happened. As if, Jacob knew the importance of being first-born, Jacob came out holding Esau’s heel. Jacob was a wrestler. Even his name means “heel-grabber.” The other meaning of his name is “deceiver.” I don’t know why anyone would ever name their baby that way. “Oh, the baby is cute. What is his name?” “His name is Liar.” But these two meanings sums up Jacob’s life. Jacob spent most of his life wrestling and deceiving people. Even in his birth, he tried to wrestle his twin brother over the right of being first-born. Although Isaac knew that God has chosen Jacob over Esau, Isaac preferred Esau over Jacob. Esau was a macho man. Esau spent his life hunting in the wilderness. His favorite TV show was probably Men Vs Wild. While Jacob was a mommy boy. He spent his time at home watching MasterChef. Jacob knew that his dad loved Esau more than him. So he cheated Esau of his blessings. When the time came for Isaac to give his blessings, Jacob pretended to be Esau. Jacob came to Isaac and said, “Daddd… ehemmm… Dad, I bring you the food that you requested.” “Who are you?” Isaac replied. And Jacob said, “I am Esau, your firstborn.” At that time, Jacob stole both Esau’s identity and blessing. When Esau found out, he was angry and wanted to kill Jacob. Then Jacob ran away to the house of his uncle, Laban, to hide from Esau. Jacob tried to earn the blessing of God his way and it led him to isolation from his own family.
Fast forward few years, by the time we reached Genesis 32, Jacob was a very rich man. God blessed him and made him prosperous. Lots of stuff happened to Jacob throughout those years. He met the love of his life, wanted to marry her, agreed to work for 7 years, had the wedding celebration, only to wake up the next morning, “O my gosh babe. You look just like your sister without make up. Wait, you are her!” Uncle Laban tricked him into marrying the girl’s older sister. Then Jacob agreed to work for another 7 years for the love of his life. So now Jacob had two wives, and the two wives were sisters. How weird is that? Then the two wives began to compete with one another on who can give Jacob the most son, which explained why Jacob ended up with 12 sons. Then Laban tricked Jacob and changed his wages 6 times, but Jacob being the trickster himself, also tricked Laban. So we had two conman tried to outwit one another. It is a fascinating story. If you think the Bible is boring, you have not read it.
In Genesis 32, Jacob was on his way back to his homeland, Canaan. 20 years has passed since he left home. God appeared to Jacob in a dream and told Jacob to return to the land of his father. Jacob obeyed. However, there was one problem. His name was Esau. The last time Jacob left home, Esau wanted to kill Jacob. And now by coming home, Jacob had to face his greatest nightmare, his own brother. Jacob decided that it was better to let Esau know beforehand of his coming. So Jacob sent messengers to let Esau know of his coming. When the messengers returned, they told Jacob that his brother was coming to meet him. And Jacob probably thought, “How nice of him. He is coming all the way here to meet me. He must have forgiven me.” Then the messengers continued, “And there are 400 men with him.” 400 men! Now, we can understand that if Esau bring 4 men with him. Traveling was quiet dangerous in those days. There were bandits everywhere. We can even understand 40 men. But 400? That is the size of a small army in those days. So Esau was coming to meet Jacob with an army of 400 people. If you were Jacob, what would you think? There was only one logical conclusion. “Esau is coming to kill me.” Right? Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. So Jacob decided to split his party into two thinking that if Esau attacks one party, the other will be able to get away. And not only that, for the very first time in his life, Jacob prayed to God. He was desperate. He was extremely afraid of Esau and he prayed to God for protection. And that very night, the night before his encounter with Esau, Jacob sent his family across the river before him and he remained there alone. Jacob was all by himself. And without a doubt, this was the darkest and the longest night of his life. He had no idea what was going to happen the next day. “Will Esau kill me? Or will my gifts appease Esau? God, where are you? You told me to come back home and now my brother is on his way to kill me. What am I supposed to do? Help!” And something totally unexpected happen. A man showed up out of nowhere and attacked Jacob and Jacob wrestled with him all night. Are you with me?
This is where we will pick it up. There are four things that happened in this story. 4 things really quick and then I want to make 5 observations from this story.
God pursues Jacob
Genesis 32:24 – And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. A man showed up out of nowhere and began to wrestle with Jacob. The question is, who was this man? Was it an assassin send by Esau? Was it a random bandit? Some Jewish commentators said that this man was Esau’s guardian angel. Is it? Some said that he was an angel of God. Maybe. But I think there are enough hints in the story for us to know the identity of the man who wrestled with Jacob. It is possible that it was an angel. I give you that. But then, if the man was an angel, why did he had to leave at dawn? Was it a vampire angel? Or does angels have curfew? If we pay attention to the narrative, then there is only one conclusion to the identity of this man. This man was none other than God himself. God who took the form of a man. And it explains why he needed to leave at dawn. Because we know that no one can see the face of God and live. And even Jacob himself acknowledged the fact that this man was God. Genesis 32:30 – 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” In Hebrew, the term “face to face” is also an idiom for close proximity. Jacob had been near God and he lived. So it is very clear that the man whom Jacob wrestled with was God.
But why did God do it? Why did God showed up that night? The first thing that we can see from this story is that God pursues Jacob. Prior to this encounter, Jacob knew a lot about God. Jacob heard the stories of the God of his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac. Throughout the narrative of Jacob so far, Jacob always referred to God as the God of Abraham and Isaac. And not only that, Jacob also knew the promises of God for his life. God revealed his promises to Jacob through dreams. Let me take it one step further. Jacob not only knew about God, he not only knew the promises of God, Jacob also experienced the blessings of God. God gave him families and wealth. But there was one thing that Jacob did not have. Jacob did not have a personal relationship with God. Jacob experienced the blessings of God but he never experience God. And now, in the darkest night of his life, something unexpected happen. What Jacob wanted is for God to deliver him from Esau. That was Jacob’s prayer. But God gave him a strange answer. God’s answer to Jacob’s prayer for deliverance was a wrestling match. God attacked Jacob. This was God’s unexpected answer to Jacob’s prayer. What Jacob wanted was safety from Esau but what God wanted was Jacob. Note this. It was not Jacob who seeks to wrestle God but it was God who seeks to wrestle Jacob. Jacob already had enough enemies on his plate right now. He did not need another one. Yet at his weakest and most frail moment, God attacked Jacob. Church, get this. There are times that God will attack you. There are times that he will answer your prayer with a strange answer: a fight. And God is not fighting you to kill you. He is fighting you to bless you. Jacob thought what he needed was for God to protect him from Esau but God knew what Jacob ultimately needed was God. And God intentionally picked a fight with Jacob because of it. God pursues Jacob. And the same God is pursuing you tonight.
God wrestles with Jacob
So Jacob and God wrestled all night. This is very interesting. I don’t know if any of you ever wrestle or not but wrestling is a very tough sport. I never wrestle. The closest I come to wrestle is to smack down my niece in bed. She loves it. She kept saying, “Again Qc, again, again.” But I was pretty much dead after 10 minutes. And that was when I was a lot fitter than today. But Jacob wrestled all night long. This was not a playground fight. Jacob was fighting for his life. This was a fight of life and death. And this is what’s interesting. Jacob spent all of his life wresting his way to get what he wanted. He wrestled with Esau. He wrestled with uncle Laban. He wrestled with both his wife, Rachel and Leah. And Jacob always won. He might experience setback for a season but he would eventually got what he wanted. Wrestling was the parable of his life. So now, God showed up and wrestled with Jacob. However, this time it was different. Jacob could not win. No matter how hard he tried, he could not beat his enemy.
But what blows my mind is not that Jacob cannot win, but how God continued to wrestle Jacob all night long. Why did God do it? Is Jacob too strong for God? Of course not. You know what happened next. But then why did God have to wrestle him all night? Why God didn’t just destroy Jacob from the beginning? Now hear me clearly. I am speaking from my own experience. And I believe you will agree with me. Jacob will never know who God is until he fights him with everything in him and find himself extremely frustrated at his inability to beat God. Can I just be honest with you? I can preach to you a million times that God is the one you need and it does absolutely nothing to you. The only way you will experience the sweetness and the tenderness of God’s sufficient grace is when you wrestle with him all night. When you fight him with all your strength but you cannot win. When you are frustrated, disappointed and weary, when you tried everything you can but nothing work, only then you will know who it is that you are wrestling against. You cannot learn this through sermon. This is a lesson that comes through frustrations and disappointments. And God in his sweet grace intentionally made himself Jacob’s enemy and wrestled him all night to show that. I think for many of us, God has not become real to us because we are not frustrated enough. We have yet to wrestle with him all night long. But God in his grace will come and attack you. It is then and only then that you will know God’s true strength. Which lead me to my next point.
God cripples Jacob
Genesis 32:25-26 – 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. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” I love this part. Probably my favourite part of the story. After wrestling all night, God saw that Jacob would not give in. So what did he do? God decided to use a tiny little fraction of his real power. The Bible said the man touched Jacob. In Hebrew, this word “touched” mean touch. That’s it. There is no hidden meaning to it. It’s not like God was using his secret technique to beat Jacob. No. God merely touched Jacob and Jacob’s hip was dislocated. What does this tells us about how God fights? God was limiting himself throughout the night. He wanted Jacob to experience the frustration and the agony of wrestling him all night. And when it was time to go, God touched Jacob and the fight ended in a matter of seconds. Finally, it hit Jacob. He was not wrestling with a man; he was wrestling with God. But when did Jacob realised that the man was God? When God put his hip out of joint. Do you see what happen? God had to destroy Jacob’s strength for Jacob to stop wrestling and start embracing God.
So then, Jacob was in so much pain from the touch of God. He was helpless and powerless. If you ever dislocated any part of your body, you would know the pain. I remember when I dislocated my knee, I was utterly helpless. I could not even move. It took everything in me just to sit still and wait for the ambulance to come. Group of people wanted to lift me up and carry me into the van. They thought it was a good idea. It was not. Just a slight movement was enough to make me want to scream in pain. Jacob was in the same position. Helpless and powerless before the all-powerful God. But here is what’s amazing. God said, “Play time is over. I gotta go.” And Jacob replied, “You are not going anywhere. I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Here is what Jacob is saying. “Sir, I am in so much pain right now. I am extremely powerless before you. You destroyed me completely. But I am not going to let you go. Now I know who you are. I know whom I’ve been wrestling against. And I can’t go back to the way I used to be. I don’t have anything else to go back to. My family, my wealth, my blessing, it all means nothing. What I need is you. I need your blessing. And I will not let you go until you bless me.” Wow.
God blesses Jacob
Genesis 32:27-32 – 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.
After God saw that Jacob had learned his lesson, God asked Jacob for his name. Please note that God knew Jacob’s name. God knew Jacob more than Jacob knew himself. So, when God asked Jacob for his name, God was not seeking a new information. God wanted Jacob to admit to God who he truly was. And Jacob answered, “My name is Jacob.” Remember, many years ago, Jacob was asked a similar question by Isaac. “Who are you?” And Jacob replied, “I am Esau, your firstborn.” But now in front of God, there was no more pretension. Jacob could not hide anymore. He was too powerless to do so. So he confessed, “I am Jacob. I am a liar and deceiver. I’ve been wresting all my life to be Esau. But I can’t. I’m Jacob, a deceiver.” And when Jacob confessed who he was, God smiled and said, “From now on, you are no longer Jacob. You are no longer a liar. But you are Israel. For you have fight with God and men, and you have won.”
Here is what’s interesting. God gave Jacob a new identity. From then on, Jacob would be known as Israel. The meaning of Israel is literally “God fights.” But what is interesting is not the new name itself, but the reason for the new name. God gave Jacob a new name because Jacob fought with God and won. Won? I didn’t know about you but fully helpless, powerless and desperate for God’s blessing does not seem like a victory to me. If you get into a fight with someone and the fight ends with you being helpless on the floor, seeking the other person’s mercy, it is called losing. Jacob lost badly against God. But God was saying, “Jacob you have been wrestling all of your life. You have been fighting people and you have been fighting me. You have lied and deceived people to get your ways. You are a liar and a wrestler but now you are destroyed before me. I have crippled you. But I am going to reward you. I am going to call you “The man who fought with God and won!” What?
This is the most important lesson in the story. Jacob won the fight by losing. There is a fight that you can only win by losing. And Jacob did it. Jacob lost the fight but God declared him a winner. Because by losing the fight of his life, Jacob gained something that he did not have before. Jacob received the blessing of God. And that’s a win. And the blessing of God did not come in a package of health and wealth. Jacob lost most of his wealth to his older brother Esau. And from that day forward, Jacob limped for the rest of his life. Jacob’s encounter with God left a permanent mark in Jacob’s life. He was forever limp because of it. But he was a winner. How? Because by losing the fight, Jacob received the greatest blessing one can ever receive: GOD. Jacob got God. My friend, the story of Jacob is the story of God who pursues Jacob. It is the story of grace. God would not let Jacob win no matter what the cost. God attacks and cripples Jacob. It is all for one purpose. It is because God desires to bless Jacob with the greatest blessing. God wants to give Jacob, God. What a beautiful story. So what happen next between Jacob and Esau? You should read the Bible.
So what does this story means to us? Five observations. First, we must know God personally. This is my concern as your pastor. It is very possible to be excited at what God is doing in a church without experiencing God for yourself. And this is very dangerous. I see it happening a lot of time. The scenario goes like this. Students came from Indonesia to Sydney to study and are planted in our church. They heard the message of the gospel. They saw how the gospel transformed people’s lives. They were excited at what God was doing in and through the church. They joined MC. They learned more about the Bible and grew in their understanding of the gospel. They joined usher ministry. They were actively serving in the church and it seemed like they were growing as disciples of Christ. But when they graduated, they went back to Indonesia and poof, they disappeared. The passion for Christ that was evident in Sydney was totally gone in Indonesia. What happen? They gave reasons that there were no church and community in Indonesia like the one they had in Sydney. Now, I am going to be very careful on this. Communal experiences are very important. Church experiences are crucial. I give you that. But hear me loud and clear. Communal experiences does not substitute the need of personal experience with God. The reasons that many people lost their desire for Christ when they move away is because they do not have personal experience with God. All those times that were passionate for Christ was based on communal experiences. It is not enough to know that God is gracious because I said so in my sermon. You need to taste that God is gracious for yourself. At the end of the day, it does not matter what other people say about God. What matter is what you say of God when there is absolutely no one around you.
Let me put it this way. When I was diagnosed with cancer and entered the hospital, the first few days I had tons of visitors. I guess I was pretty popular because I’m the Pastor’s kid. So I had lots of people came over to encourage me, cheer me up, and pray for me. I was surrounded by friends and family. And they would tell me, “You are not alone. We are fighting with you.” And all the variations of that. Of course, they made me happy. I received lots of cards with get well soon wishes and Bible verses in it. I received balloons and I even received a Teddy Bear. I did not know why anyone would give me a Teddy Bear but boy, I was happy. But here is the thing. It did not matter how genuine they were when they told me that I was not alone, at the end of the day I was alone. I was the one who needed chemotherapy. I was the one who experienced the pain and suffering of it. And at that time, if my faith in God was based on communal experience, it would collapse. Only personal experience with God would sustain me through the tough season in life. So, do you know God personally?
Second, we need to recognize our main problem. All of us by default are sinners. We were born with desire to pursue our own significance and meaning. This is how all of us are wired. Sin reigns in our heart. Because of it, our primary problem in life is one: God. We find it hard trust God and that is why we wrestle with him. Let me proof it to you. Try to bring to mind one of the greatest regret in your life. Just one. Done? Now isn’t true, that those particular regret came because of your refusal to trust God in that particular moment? You know what God was saying but you continued to wrestle him all night long and you decided to have your way. Now do you see what happen? We think Esau is our problem. No, Esau is not our problem. God is! We refused to trust God. Sin in our lives refused to trust God and we wrestled against him. But the opposite is also true. Think about one of the most transformational moment in your life? Done? Let me guess what happened. Again, you wrestled with God all night. But this time you did not win. You lost. You decided to trust God. And it led to God transforming your heart. Am I right? Often time, God has to wrestle us in order to transform us. At that time you might not understand why. Why does it seems like God becomes our enemy? But let me tell you. It is the grace and love of God that put himself as our enemy to wrestle us.
Third, we must embrace the touch of God. And by touch I did not mean a sweet emotional sensation of the presence of God. By touch of God I mean the moment God uses a tiny fraction of his strength to cripple you. Let me tell you. God does not play fair. God does not need your permission to wreck your life and transform you through it. He is God. And this is what happened to Jacob. God must first touched Jacob. God must first destroyed Jacob’s strength before Jacob realized who he had been wrestling. It is the touch of God that transformed Jacob’s self-reliance to faith in God. It is only when Jacob was powerless he learned to cling on God. And this is faith. Faith is saying, “God I will not let you go until you bless me. God, what I am going through right now is extremely painful. I am utterly helpless. I have nowhere else to go. You are my only hope. And I will not let you go.” Therefore, do not despise the touch of God. Do not despise pain and suffering. It is in pain and suffering where you learn to cling to God.
Fourth, receive the blessing of the gospel. As we can see in the story, the blessing that Jacob ultimately needed was not deliverance from Esau, not the love of Rachel, nor the approval of Isaac. What Jacob ultimately needed was the blessing of God, which was God himself. Jacob walked away from the fight being crippled for life. But Jacob received the presence of God. And this is the gospel. Contrary to popular belief, God never promise us the riches of this world. God never promise us the health and happy family that we desire. The greatest blessing of the gospel is not forgiveness, adoption, nor inheritance. The greatest blessing of the gospel is God himself. And the blessing of God often comes through the attack of God. You will never know God is all you need until God is all you have.
Fifth, we win by losing. The way to win our wrestle with God is to surrender to God. There is no other way. This is Christianity. People often ridicule Christianity by saying that Christianity is a religion for the weak. I cannot agree more. Christianity is not for those who are strong but for those who are weak. God gave Jacob a new name but he never give Jacob a new leg. But it was precisely through his weakness that Jacob prevailed. This is something that we need to be comfortable with. In the economy of God, weakness is strength. It is when you are weak that you are strong because it is in your weakness that God’s power is made perfect. God does not want strong Christians. He wants weak Christians who know that their God is strong. And that is our win. We win by losing.
However, there is one big question in this story. How can a good and sovereign God declare Jacob the liar, Jacob the deceiver, Jacob the wrestler, Jacob the loser, to be Jacob the winner? This is the biggest puzzle in the story. How is it possible that God declares us the sinners to be the blessed ones? It is obvious from the story that God could have easily overpowered Jacob. All God needed to cripple Jacob was a mere touch. God is all-powerful. Yet at the same time the Bible said that God did not prevail against Jacob. What happen? Keller put it this way: “God made himself weak.”
Let me explain. I recently went to Korea for a holiday with one of my good friend and his family. My friend have 2 daughters, a 6 and 4 years old. Which meant that in this trip I was not just there for holiday but also to babysit. These two girls, especially the older one, are full of energy. And one of the things that we do during the trip was to arm wrestle. So they would challenge me in arm wrestle, two against one. How many of you know that it does not matter how full of energy these two girls are, I could easily destroy their arms in arm wrestle? But I didn’t. Because my friend paid for the trip. Okay that is true but that is not the reason. I arm wrestled both of them at the same time and I could easily overpower them but I did not. I made myself weak. Why? Because I love them. If I overpower them and destroy them from the beginning, they would hate me. But if I make myself weak and let them try to overpower me, I win their heart. So here we find God made himself weak so that he failed to overpower Jacob. He failed but yet he did not fail. If God overpowered Jacob from the beginning, God could have won but he would not get what he wanted. What God wanted was to transform Jacob’s heart. So God made himself weak and wrestled with Jacob all night in order for God to get what he wanted.
My friend, don’t miss this. This is the picture of the cross of Christ. At the cross of Jesus Christ, God made himself weak. Jesus triumphed by losing. Jesus wrestled all night to follow God’s will and at the cross, he lost. At the cross, Jesus took our place as sinners and God unleashed hell on Jesus. Jesus took the full blow of God’s anger toward sin. God did not withhold his power. God unleashed his wrath on Jesus and Jesus clanged on to the very end. Jesus would not give up and Jesus would not let go, despite all the pain that he had to endure. Why? In order to give us the blessing. Can you see it now? The reason God can bless Jacob is because someone else got cursed for Jacob’s sake. The reason God can bless us who deserves a curse is because God cursed someone who deserves a blessing. This is what Jesus had done for us. Jesus who is fully God became weak and took on the full wrath of the omnipotent God for our sake. Jesus lost but he did not lose. He win by losing. By his death at the cross, Jesus forever removed the penalty and the cursed of sin for those who believe in him. I love the way Timothy Keller puts it. “Jacob held on at the risk of his life to get the blessing for him but Jesus held on at the cost of his life to get the blessing for us.” This is how the Jesus transformed our hearts. Do you see him clinging to the cross to give you the blessing of God?
So, here is how I want to end. I believe God is pursuing many of us right now. I believe some of you are currently in a wrestling match against God. I pray tonight that you will learn to lose. It is a fight you must learn to lose. God is calling you to give up the fight and trust him. And when you do, hear the voice of God asking you tonight, “What is your name?”
- Why did God pursue and wrestle with Jacob? What does it tell us about the most important thing that Jacob and we need?
- Why did God wrestle Jacob all night rather than destroy him from the very beginning?
- Have you ever been in a wrestling match against God? What happen?
- “God had to destroy Jacob’s strength for Jacob to stop wrestling and start embracing God.” Can you say the same about your life? Share your story.
- “Christianity is a religion for those who are weak.” Explain why we should embrace this statement. Give some daily applications.
- How does this story points us to the cross of Christ?
- Why did God need to ask Jacob, “what is your name?” What does it tell us about receiving God’s blessing?