This Sunday's message: The Song of Zechariah

February 13

Today's reading: Genesis 32:1-32

These events take place over 20 years after Jacob fled from his home after obtaining the blessing that belonged to Esau. Since Esau had vowed to kill Jacob after Isaac died, it is not surprising that Jacob is afraid to meet Esau. The night before he is to come face to face with Esau, Jacob ends up by himself where he ends up in a wrestling match.

It’s not completely clear here exactly who Jacob is wrestling with. In verse 24, he is merely identified as “a man”. The prophet Hosea identifies him as “the angel” (Hosea 12:4). But Jacob recognizes him as God Himself and names the place Peniel, which mean “the face of God”. I agree with a number of scholars who believe this is a Christophany - a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. That would certainly be consistent with the fact that Jesus is the only person of the triune God who appears in human form. But whether this is merely an angel or it is Jesus, the effect is the same - Jacob is literally wrestling with God or one of His representatives here.

As a result of this encounter, God changes Jacob's name from Jacob (which means "he who grasps the heal" or "supplanter") to Israel (which means something like "wrestles with God"). That certainly is an appropriate name for the nation consisting of God's people. As we will see they continually wrestle with God. But because He is a God who keeps His promise, God continues to bless them in spite of their rebellion. Aren't you glad God still does that for His people?

Posted in
Tagged with

No Comments