I’ve often heard the place in the Bible where Jacob wrestles with God used to encourage people to wrestle with God in prayer. They are encouraged to demand God’s blessing and not give up until they receive it. Something about this approach has always bothered me – maybe the fact that there appears to be no humility in this approach?
God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful)—[and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble. -1Pe5:5;Ja4:6
Is this what Jacob really did? Did Jacob really wrestle God and demand a blessing? Did he wrestle God until he received a blessing? Is this a good model for prayer? Let’s take a look!
From the study below some interesting things can be seen.
- Jacob did not initiate this wrestling – God did.
- At first, Jacob did not even know he was wrestling God
- God’s touch on Jacob’s hip cripples him – a devastating blow
- Jacob was wrestling in his own strength
- Jacob asks for a blessing after he stops wrestling, after God cripples him, after he recognizes the “man” he was wrestling as supernatural
- The asking for a blessing does not sound like a demand — Jacob was weeping when he asked. Jacob came to the end of his own self-sufficiency.
- Jacob receives his blessing only after he stops wrestling with God and comes to the end of his own self-sufficiency. Only after he “sees God face” and recognizes God as God.
- Jacob’s prayer in v11 has more to do with him being afraid of his brother than asking for a blessing.
- Jacob’s prayer of v11 was answered. Was this answered prayer the blessing or was the blessing Jacob’s recognition of his need for God – he came to the end of his self-sufficiency and saw God’s face?
Coming to the end of your own self-sufficiency – isn’t this exactly what being humble means?!
|Jacob Wrestles Bible Study
24 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
25 When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.
26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”
28 He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”
29 Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.”
31 Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh.
32 Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.