People You Should Know: Jacob/Israel
Did you know that the name Jacob means “he deceives”? This name was very fitting for the grandson of Abraham because he spent much of his life deceiving people. He was selfish and deceitful and faced a lot of struggle and adversity because of it. Jacob manipulated his brother, Esau, into selling his birthright; then he deceived his father, Isaac, into giving him Esau’s rightful blessing. After deceiving his father, he ran away to his uncle, Laban, who was just as deceitful as Jacob.
Laban agreed to let Jacob marry his youngest daughter Rachel if Jacob would work seven years for him, but Laban deceived Jacob and sent his oldest daughter Leah to sleep with Jacob. Jacob then had to work another seven years for Rachel, whom he was originally promised. After fourteen years of labor, Jacob, Leah, and Rachel and their children sneaked away after stealing from Laban. Then Jacob tried to buy back favor from his brother. However, all this time, God reminded Jacob through dreams that He was with him and that He had a plan for Jacob. Yet Jacob still tried to control and manipulate situations into his favor.
Jacob had been metaphorically wrestling with God for a long time, and it came to a head when God showed up to wrestle Jacob literally.
“This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!’
But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’
‘What is your name?’ the man asked.
He replied, 'Jacob.'
‘Your name will no longer be Jacob,’ the man told him. ‘From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.’” (Genesis 32:24-28)
Jacob realized he had seen God face to face. Immediately after this, Jacob and Esau make peace and forgiveness is offered as the brothers reunite. Jacob is remembered as the patriarch of the Israelites, the third progenitor with whom God made a covenant, and his name is mentioned among his father and grandfather when God identifies Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Have you been wrestling with God? Have you been ignoring His word when He tells you He is with you? Do you try to manipulate situations to benefit yourself? Surrender your control over to the Lord, stop wrestling with Him, and walk in peace with our great Shepherd.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.