Jacob prepares to meet his brother Esau, but encounters God first in a surprising, dramatic, and transforming way: Genesis 32
The encounter with God as Genesis 32 describes it is a fearsome one. If we unworthy servants are to be transferred from the power of darkness, that means God is going to have to come after us in the dark. If we are honest with ourselves, we will see it couldn’t be any other way. And it also means that ministry has its genesis in a struggle. Those who encounter God in the dark will be not only changed but also marked, left with the wound created by God’s wrenching us out of one life and blessing us with a new one. And this God who wrenches us free may well have a dreadful aspect.
– Richard Hays, Limping and Praising
Jacob does what all of us must do if, in the end, we too are to become true. He confronts in himself the things that are wounding him, admits his limitations, accepts his situation, rejoins the world, and moves on.
– Joan Chittister, Scarred By Struggle, Transformed By Hope
It is said that after Jacob wrestled with God, he walked with a limp.
So it has been with the Bible and me.
I have wrestled with the Bible, and it has left me with a limp.
– For the rest of Rachel Held Evan’s excellent post, I Love the Bible, click here
Click here for helpful, practical application based on Genesis 32 by Rick Warren entitled How Can I Ever Change?
As later scriptures attest, Jacob’s contentiousness is Israel’s stormy history with Yahweh. His refusal to let God go is the people clinging to the covenant. God’s blessing is their very existence. However personal it was — intimate, mysterious, life-changing — God’s ambush of Jacob at Jabbok was not a private experience. It was also his people’s; or, as one scholar puts it, such stories of the past were “about them in an earlier embodiment.” You are Israel, God said to Jacob; and we are too. When Jacob reached the river and sent everything he had across ahead of him, we were there too — alone, stripped, agile, ready for anything, and desperately afraid. When a man appeared and fought with him all night, we felt the sweaty grasp of a God mortally engaged, both enemy and friend. And when he hit Jacob with a cheap shot, we too went slack, wounded as much by all our old treacheries as by our going to the mat with God. When Jacob gained the upper hand and the blessing, we prevailed with him, but it was not a victory; we still knew nothing of God’s name. We were lucky just to have survived. And when the sun came up on Jacob and he realized that the face most to be feared was not his brother’s but God’s, we too marveled that the worst that could ever happen was over; relieved, we crossed the river to Esau, dragging our leg like a prize.
– J. Mary Luti, You Are Israel
2 Corinthians 12:8b-10 (NRSV)
To keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis reminds us of the divine-human struggle. Susan and Lucy ask Mr. and Mrs. Beaver to describe Aslan (Lewis’s representation of Jesus). They ask if Aslan is a man. Mr. Beaver replies.
“Aslan a man? Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion– the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he–quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about being safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
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