Wrestling for the Blessing

So many times we hear the word blessing used and for all kinds of things.  I personally like to use it in my signature block.  You may ask someone “How are you?” and they may respond “Blessed”.  Both are fine but extremely lacking.  To be blessed biblically means to not only be blessed but to also be a blessing.  It is to have great favor and to actually receive the blessing that was promised.  Have you ever been promised a blessing? Promises are good but it’s even better to receive the blessing!

 

In Genesis 25 we are introduced to Jacob and Esau .  Right away we see a struggle for preeminence between brothers.  Somewhere inside of Jacob even before birth was a hunger to be blessed.  I’m sure Jacob felt very conflicted inside because on the one hand he wanted the blessing and any rights that brought with it.  On the other hand though to be truly blessed also meant to be a blessing to all those he would deal with.  So how does being a blessing line up with cheating your brother to get it?  Have you ever felt like two people?  My brother-in-law, who is now passed, struggled with drug addiction and all that entails.  He said once “It feels like I have two people fighting a war inside me.  One wants whats right and other does not.” This was a torment to him and evidenced by his tattoos.  On his right side were angels and all things good and on the left were all things bad.

(I won’t take the time to discuss Esau here but I’d like to concentrate on Jacob. He wanted it so badly that he manipulated and cheated to get it. He didn’t operate alone but I will also leave out for the sake of space his mom and dad who played a role in this manifested behavior.  If you read the text ,and I encourage you to do that, but you can see the problem which is a good lesson for parents).

I have often wondered why God let Jacob “get away” with his deception. Reading it now I see that He didn’t. I don’t mean to imply that God would get him instead that He would correct him.  The final outcome would be as we already knew since it was prophesied at birth but getting there is where the story is.

For Jacob the road to understanding and receiving blessing came filled with Gods faithful tutelage. You see, this is where God didn’t let him get away with his deceptive manipulations.  Rather he would be taught to have a right understanding of the blessing and its true purpose, its value and how to rightfully obtain it.

Jacob left his family in obedience to his father’s instructions to take a wife and to remain away for a time so his brother wouldn’t kill him.  He immediately found the wife he wanted but her dad was a cheater too.  We always reap what we sow.  This isn’t to hurt us but to help us understand a loving and just God.  He got his wife but not after working seven years and being tricked into marrying the wrong one.  He then had to work another 7 years for the right one.  Ironically, Laban his wife’s father, continued to try to reap the blessing of having Jacob work for him knowing he was blessed because of Jacob. It seems Laban suffered from the same problem.  Jacob felt trapped by Laban.  He was unable to receive his personal blessing while living out the consequences that were produced from his own trickery.  I don’t think there was a better way that God could have chosen to teach Jacob.  He put him with someone who was just like he was in order to show him himself.

God used this and spoke to Jacob again about his blessing.  He told Jacob to go back home and He would be with him.  He would receive his blessing and also be a blessing. But to Jacob there remained a problem.  He has to leave Laban who won’t be happy to let him go. So he flees without telling him and Laban comes after him.  In Genesis 31:25-42 the exchange between the two is awesome because Jacob lays out his complaint to Laban. This complaint was the very story of the lesson God taught Jacob.

He had worked very hard for Laban who unjustly would change Jacob’s pay.  He always tried to obtain his blessing at Jacobs expense.  This was precisely what Jacob had done to Esau.  Our blessings aren’t predicated on someone else not getting theirs.  That’s covetousness. Our God is big enough to bless each of us without someone else having to go without.  Further, when we are blessed it should never cause pain to others. Instead we are blessed to be a blessing.  Now that he had learned this he was ready to receive his rightful blessing.

As Laban lets Jacob go with blessing to his brother Esau, Jacob is left alone with God. Jacob must now wrestle it out.  He must wrestle out all that he has learned and be humbled so that he can contain what he is about to receive.  I love that we can learn from others who have walked with God.  How did they do it?  How did God respond?  I’ve heard many who think that you shouldn’t wrestle with God as if that’s offensive.  I guess I don’t see it like that at all.  We really aren’t wrestling with God but we are wrestling to receive.  We aren’t trying to force God but rather we are fighting to know how to receive. The word is full of promises that most Christians don’t walk in.  We believe them with our heads but somehow we still have unbelief in our hearts.  Like Jacob, we desperately want the blessing but we know we don’t deserve it in our hearts so we don’t really believe we can receive it.  We look at our unrighteousness instead of His promise.  Thank God for his diligent teaching and molding of our lives.  Just as he worked on Jacob He also works on us.  The key is to stay in obedience.  He will do the rest.

Now that God protected Jacob from Laban as He said He would he had to now face the bigger threat of facing his brother.  He needed to know that God would be with him, that He would go all the way with him. He was determined he’d not go on until he had heard from God.  He said in Genesis 32:26 “I will not let you go unless You bless me”. Would to God that we all have this kind of faith.

So in the wrestling God touched his hip and changed his name.  This was part of the blessing because Jacob would always have the constant reminder of his encounter with God.  This encounter so greatly impacted and changed his life that when he saw his brother Esau he said it was as if he’d seen the face of God. Wow! The one who once was as close an enemy as you can have has become the face of God’s mercy, grace and blessing. Not only did he now see differently but since he learned humility from his encounter with God he now continually humbled himself to his brother by calling himself his servant even though the blessing was that Esau would serve Jacob.  There was no longer a fight for position. God would raise him up or put him down.  Our God not only handles the big stuff but all the details in between.  He loves us enough to not leave us as we are but He changes us and if need be He changes our name, making us into His image.  No longer was he Jacob the supplanter but he was now Israel.  Forever we would know him and say his name.  His name went from a negative reflection to a name that represents God and his people forever.

If you don’t know who you are in God you must look to the scriptures for your identity in Christ.  You are now the beloved, the redeemed, the holy and the righteousness of Christ. He even calls you a saint.  I know this can be hard to swallow but it is how He sees us. And it doesn’t stop there.  You are free though bought with a price.  You’re the body of Christ and the heirs of salvation.  The list goes on and on.  

I pray that today, no matter what you were once known for, who you once were or what you are facing, that even if it’s the struggle of your life, you do not turn loose until you receive your blessing.  Don’t give up.  Your story isn’t over and no mountain or fear of one is to big for our God. He has a plan for you  that’s full of blessing.  Jeremiah 29:11-13 says ” For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”.  

He has had this plan for you from before you were born.  He is faithful and cannot lie. You can trust Him.  He cannot fail! Just be obedient to His direction as Jacob was and watch as God unfolds His promises for you.

By Jaime Luce 

For your own Bible study on this read from Genesis 25-33.

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