Friday, February 7, 2014

Holding on to His Promise

Jacob Wrestles with God

Then Jacob prayed,O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me,Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said,I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”1

We know the story of Jacob as his life unfolds before us in the book of Genesis. He was the twin brother of Esau. Esau was the firstborn and as such was heir to the blessings of their father Isaac. But Jacob, unlike his brother Esau, saw the value of “the birthright”. In reading about them, we discover that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for bread and lentil stew. The bible even affirms in Genesis 25 that Esau “despised his birthright”.2 Later on we learn (in Genesis 27) that Jacob and his mother successfully deceive Isaac into blessing Jacob with the rights of firstborn son.

Twenty years pass by the time Jacob offers this prayer in Genesis 32, and we see that he is returning now, back to the land of his fathers (Abraham and Isaac). God speaks to him in Genesis 31:

Then the Lord said to Jacob,Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.3

But Jacob fears for his life and the lives of his wives and children, because his brother Esau held a grudge against him for receiving the blessing Isaac gave to him. Esau said, “I will kill my brother Jacob”.4

We all face fear at certain times, in our lives, fears which cause us to hesitate, worry and doubt; fear which can paralyze us. Fear in relationships, fear in our profession, fear walking down a certain street. Whatever it is, we’ve all come face to face with fear. Some personalize fear by saying, “my fear(s)”. Whether you personalize, internalize, or analyze it, we all have come face to face with it; fear.

Paul reminds us that fear does not come from God:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.5

Jacob was afraid for his life, but unlike those paralyzed by their fear, he recognized that who he feared (Esau) was not greater than the God of his fathers (Abraham and Isaac). God told Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” (Genesis 31:3, NIV)

Would this same God now allow Esau to kill Jacob?

Jacob faced his greatest fear with prayer; he prayed to the God of Abraham and Isaac, reminding him of His promise.

Sometimes when we pray, we still feel the matter is not settled. In our mind, we don’t know the outcome, though we pray in faith, though we remind our self and God of His promises; we say our, “Amen” but still feeling the outcome remains unsettled.

As I read Genesis 32, I got the sense that despite praying about the matter, despite hearing God Himself promise to be with him, Jacob was uncertain about the outcome of seeing his brother Esau.

Jacob was afraid.

When Jacob entered the world, he did so holding on to the foot of his brother Esau. When he fled Esau, Jacob wrestled with his father-in-law Laban as an indentured servant for twenty years. Finally, Jacob's journey brings him to a place called Mahaniam, where he is met by the angels of God. It is here at Mahaniam that Jacob names the place, “the camp of God”.6 He is alone now, until he begins wrestling with a man; this struggle continues until daybreak (v.24).

Jacob was not a skilled hunter like his brother Esau, but he was a skilled wrestler. He wrestled for what was important to him, and on this night, Jacob wrestled with God. I have to believe that God allowed Himself to appear in the form of a man to allow Jacob to successfully wrestle Him to a stalemate; but He is still God. When God touched the socket of Jacob’s hip, He permanently disabled Jacob; but Jacob continued to "hold on".

Finally, God tells Jacob, “Let me go for it is daybreak” (v. 26), but Jacob refuses until he is blessed: “I will not let you go unless you bless me.7

There is a lesson in this scripture for those who faithfully trust in Christ, we must hold on to the promise of God until our daybreak comes!

Your daybreak will come if you hold on to the promise of God!


  1. Genesis 32:9-12, NIV
  2. Genesis 25:34, NIV
  3. Genesis 31:3, NIV
  4. Genesis 27:42, NIV
  5. 2 Timothy 1:7, Amplified Bible
  6. Genesis 32:1-2, NIV
  7. Genesis 32:26, NIV
A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Spiritual Sunday'sNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).


Judy said...


I love this passage of scripture! And yes the lesson is very important. Not easy to do all the time especially if you're going through a really tough trial. But God is faithful to his promises. I'm a witness to that.

I welcome you to visit me at Walking With God and Judith Riddle Photography.


MTJ said...

Judy: Thank you so much for stopping by to share your thoughts with me. I have found this passage of scripture to inspire and encourage me when I face trials. Blessings to you and family.


Anita Johnson said...

A perfect post for me today...