Of all the angels mentioned in the Bible this angel is one you will meet at some point in your life and the outcome of that meeting will make all the difference. But to really understand the importance of this angel we must go to Genesis 32: 22-30 where we get our first real glimpse of the wrestling angel. Jacob had just come to the place where his life was in crisis. All the deception that he had sown throughout his life was closing in on him. In the past he was able to avoid confrontations by his own cleverness. But now his life was falling apart and he was in ‘great fear and distress’. Gen 32: 7
Still Jacob was able to devise a clever scheme in which he sent all his wives and servants along with everything he had acquired ahead of him and now he was alone with his ‘self’. Everything that he surrounded himself with to protect him from being alone was now gone and he felt the cloud of despair closing in around him.
But there was one that he could not send away, one that had pursued him and would not abandon him. There was one that loved him so much that he would not let him go. Only by coming to the end of one’s self can one actually find one’s self.
The struggle with the wrestling angel is symbolic of the inner-conflict that each one of us must go through before we can fully surrender. Who is number one? Is it I or is it God? I fear it is I.
Even though Jacob was in dire straights his pride of being able to beat this thing still had a strong hold over him. After all he had prevailed before so why not now. So we find that the wrestling angel was about to leave him alone to his misery, “Let me go, (he said) for it is daybreak”. But Jacob would not let him go until he blessed him. Jacob had received a blessing from his father, but it was gotten through deception, and that was a big part of the curse that he was about to face in the coming of his older brother Esau. Now he wanted a true blessing, one that meant something to him, not something that he received through deception. The truth is Jacob was tired of living a life of deception and trickery. He wanted to become free from himself and his life of lies.
So the wrestling angel asked him, “What is your name?” That might seem like a simple enough question but think for a moment, your name is actually a description of your character. You can almost see Jacob squirming around not wanting to look into the eyes of the one who asked the question and finally speaking it out so silently that it could be hardly heard he said, “ I’m, Jacob a liar and a deceiver.”
Who Would You Say You Are?
Maybe you haven’t reached the point that Jacob had reached, of having to reveal his true nature to God…………yet. But when you do what would you say your name is. Would it be, “Ego – because you are completely self absorbed?” “Would it be fear – because you are full of dread and apprehension?” “Or is it self-pleasing – doing only that which gives you meaning?” “Or maybe self-justification – excusing away all your actions as being righteous at the expense of others just so you can live with yourself?” Or is it gossiper – always delighting in the retelling of others misery?”
It is God who comes to wrestle with us to bring us to a point of both physical and spiritual submission.
No matter what your name may be, you will have to wrestle to get it out. But when you do confess it before God only then will He be able to give you a new name. When Jacob admitted who he was to the wrestling angel he replied, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Jacob who lived a life of deception and was prideful in doing it his own way became Israel, which means ‘prince with God or let God rule’.
Like Jacob you too can have your name changed from Self-centered to God-centered, from Fear to Faith, from Self-pleasing to God-pleasing from Self-justification to Redeemed of God. In Revelation 2: 17, Jesus says to those who overcome, “I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”
It is true that the worst in all of us can become the best, the weakest from among us can become the strongest, and that which brought much defeat into our lives can be turned into our biggest victory.
The good news is that when Jacob’s name was turned into Israel it affected his children and their children throughout time. Your encounter with the wrestling angel will also give you a new name and a heritage that will affect your children for generations to come.
The center of the sin life is a life of self-centeredness. To be centered on your self is to be in disharmony with the moral nature of God as revealed in Christ.
A Well of Living Water That Will Never Cease!
There was a woman who at the age of forty-five went through a devastating series of events that broke up her home and put her in a very bad position. In desperation she came to church and had a very beautiful conversion experience. It was so powerful as to be a total awakening within her. She decided to enter the university even though her friends thought her too old and she was able to pay her way with a full-time secretarial job. She came out of it with her course for a B.A. Cum laude and got her M.A. with all ‘A’s’ in her major field of interest. She wrote in a letter: Wasn’t Jesus amazing? I don’t know why any Christian should discard the miracles. I believe in miracles. He healed me inside and out. What could be more miraculous than the forgiveness of sins? Or the taking away of all bitterness, all resentment? And the peace and joy that follow are indescribable. The laughter that comes bubbling up at the most unexpected of times is so precious to me. If you would have known me a few years ago you would have thought that it would be impossible for me to ever laugh again. I know the laughter is not what the psychologists call a ‘manic’ phase, after which will come a depression, but it rises from a well of living water that will never cease. I am grateful beyond words.”
A college girl put it this way after her conversion, “I feel as though I’ve swallowed sunshine.” Another girl, recently converted was watching the sunrise and without turning exclaimed, ‘That’s the way I feel inside.”
In this season of uncertainty it is even more important to live and be transformed in Christ and to worship Him. If we are overwhelmed by the uncertainties of this world then the self-life could still be strong within us. Let us be ones that have given our all to the Lord and learn to abide in a place of gratitude, receiving and giving from the unceasing well of living water.
“Today Lord, we lay at your feet all our uncertainties about the future. Lord I ask that you would help each one of us find that place of rest and peace that is found only in you.”