Genesis 32:23ff – Wrestling with the Lord

The genesis of this article began back in February of this year as I began thinking about the many pictures that the Bible presents of people of faith encountering the Lord. As I considered these biblical episodes, I thought about how these experiences are often shared by many Christians. Yes, we will not experience all of these encounters with the Lord and we will not experience them to the same degree, but if our life is devoid of these types of encounters with the living God, then at some point we must question whether we truly know the Lord. In other words, these types of encounters are part of the very fabric of what it means to be a Christian. The Lord relates to His people, not only in the next life, but also in this life.

“Have you wrestled all night with the LORD?” In Genesis 32:23ff, Jacob has an encounter. He has escaped Laban, but now he is dreading his encounter with his brother Esau. He is at the ford of the Jabbok as night begins to fall and he sends across the Jabbok “whatever he had (32:23).” So, Jacob sends away all his wives and his children and all his livestock and all his “stuff,” and “Jacob was left alone (32:24).” The man who had accrued all his wealth in the far country is now left completely alone. No money. No wives. No children. Just Jacob alone. “And a man wrestled with him until daybreak (32:24).” The context makes it clear that Jacob is wrestling with the Lord Himself, and this is almost certainly a theophany of the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ. The time for games is over. Jacob the deceiver must die, and the new, humble Israel must emerge. Have you ever done that? Have you ever wrestled with God all night? Has there ever been a time when it was you yourself alone and you needed to wrestle with the Lord? Or the Lord needed to wrestle with you?

Our Lord is a God who allows His children to wrestle with Him and wrestle with their faith. He allows us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. He permits us to be confused and frightened and to cry out to Him. And like a father who allows his children to tussle with him, pretending to be challenged and even sometimes overcome, so the Lord allows us to complain to Him and to cry out to Him and to wrestle with Him as we try to understand this fallen world and our fallen selves in it.

One of the privileges, then, for the believer is to be able to wrestle with the Lord, never out of anger and rebellion, but rather with an attitude of seeking understanding.

Have you ever wrestled all night with the Lord?

Soli deo Gloria                         rmb                 7/23/2019

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