Faithlife
Faithlife

A Divine Wrestling Match

Types of praying  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 9 views
Notes & Transcripts

A Divine Wrestling Match

I remember watching the famous WWE wrestling match between “Hulk Hogan” and Andre the Giant. Watching it you thought there is no way this man, as big as Hulk was, is going to prevail over this sure descendant of Goliath. Sure as the world, however, you soon see Hulk scoop up Andre, barely flip him and slam him to the floor. He runs and bounces off the rope jumps in the air landing his big leg across his chest. Then he spins around to pin him, and the ref counts to three and holds Hulks arm high in victory.
Our text for tonight presents us with a wrestling match where one of the opponents is an unlikely victor, but not without a price. This match is not as glamorous, but it is a divine and momentous match, one of far greater significance.
Genesis 32 CSB
1 Jacob went on his way, and God’s angels met him. 2 When he saw them, Jacob said, “This is God’s camp.” So he called that place Mahanaim. 3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the territory of Edom. 4 He commanded them, “You are to say to my lord Esau, ‘This is what your servant Jacob says. I have been staying with Laban and have been delayed until now. 5 I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female slaves. I have sent this message to inform my lord, in order to seek your favor.’ ” 6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau; he is coming to meet you—and he has four hundred men with him.” 7 Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; he divided the people with him into two camps, along with the flocks, herds, and camels. 8 He thought, “If Esau comes to one camp and attacks it, the remaining one can escape.” 9 Then Jacob said, “God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Go back to your land and to your family, and I will cause you to prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. Indeed, I crossed over the Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please rescue me from my brother Esau, for I am afraid of him; otherwise, he may come and attack me, the mothers, and their children. 12 You have said, ‘I will cause you to prosper, and I will make your offspring like the sand of the sea, too numerous to be counted.’ ” 13 He spent the night there and took part of what he had brought with him as a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats, twenty male goats, two hundred ewes, twenty rams, 15 thirty milk camels with their young, forty cows, ten bulls, twenty female donkeys, and ten male donkeys. 16 He entrusted them to his slaves as separate herds and said to them, “Go on ahead of me, and leave some distance between the herds.” 17 And he told the first one: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to? Where are you going? And whose animals are these ahead of you?’ 18 then tell him, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau. And look, he is behind us.’ ” 19 He also told the second one, the third, and everyone who was walking behind the animals, “Say the same thing to Esau when you find him. 20 You are also to say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.’ ” For he thought, “I want to appease Esau with the gift that is going ahead of me. After that, I can face him, and perhaps he will forgive me.” 21 So the gift was sent on ahead of him while he remained in the camp that night. 22 During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two slave women, and his eleven sons, and crossed the ford of Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, along with all his possessions. 24 Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not defeat him, he struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip. 26 Then he said to Jacob, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 “What is your name?” the man asked. “Jacob,” he replied. 28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” he said. “It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he answered, “Why do you ask my name?” And he blessed him there. 30 Jacob then named the place Peniel, “For I have seen God face to face,” he said, “yet my life has been spared.” 31 The sun shone on him as he passed by Penuel—limping because of his hip. 32 That is why, still today, the Israelites don’t eat the thigh muscle that is at the hip socket: because he struck Jacob’s hip socket at the thigh muscle.
Genesis 32:
Preaching Christ from Genesis: Foundations for Expository Sermons Chapter 17: Jacob’s Wrestling with God at Peniel (Genesis 32:22–32)

This narrative of Jacob wrestling with God provides many challenges for contemporary preachers. First, it seems such a bizarre story: God being involved in a wrestling match with Jacob. People may wish to solve this problem by spiritualizing the match, but the fact that Jacob walks away from this encounter “limping because of his hip” (32:31) confirms that this was indeed a physical fight. Preachers may need to remind their hearers that in the world of Genesis God sometimes appeared in human form: God walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden; and God dined with Abraham, discussing at length his intent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. So God appears in this narrative as “a man.”

A second problem, as the history of interpretation shows, is that this narrative is extremely difficult to interpret. Luther called this passage, “one of the most obscure in the Old Testament.” It raises a host of questions: Why does God attack Jacob? Why does not God prevail against Jacob? Why does he strike him on the hip socket? Why is he concerned about “the day is breaking”? What is the meaning of the name “Israel”? Why does God not tell Jacob his own name? How can Jacob say that he has “seen God face to face” when the fight took place in a canyon in the dark of night? And why is “the dietary taboo not included in the law?”3

What we are going to focus in on tonight from this account of Jacob’s Divine wrestling match is the process of praying Jacob is taken through by God.
This sermon is the first of 8 I am developing from a sermon library series called “prayer meeting outlines.” The series is types of praying we find in the Bible.
Tonight’s Title or Type is “Sure Praying”

“Sure Praying”

Our prayers can at times be our own divine wrestling matches. From Jacob’s encounter with God through the night we can find some lessons to guide our encounters with God. These lessons are sure to set us right before God as we pray to Him about the concerns of our life. The NT tells us that the people we read about in the OT are given to us as witnesses so that we will not fall short in the same manner. Jacob’s wrestling match is to enable us and equip us to rightly live for Jesus.
Look back with me in
During your ti
Look back with me in
Look back with me in
Here is where many commentators see Jacob’s “salvation” encounter with God. God promises Jacob that he will be the carrier of the promised covenant. The seed of eve that will crush the head of the serpent will run through his DNA. (Jesus lived in him) God also promises Jacob personal safety and blessings. (Jesus would walk with him through life)
But like any believer, any Christ follower, it is about a journey as much as it is an encounter. The journey in fact includes numerous encounters, each one divinely designed to teach us, shape us and make us people who God can do something through.
We find Jacob now here before “crossing over” at a climatic point in his spiritual growth.
What I have come to find out, when you read God’s Word or when you hear God’s Word read and preached it will always do one of two things.
What I have come to find out, when you read God’s Word or when you hear God’s Word read and preached it will always do one of two things.
God’s Word will comfort us in our times of concern and trouble.
God’s Word will convict us in our times of concern and trouble.
Being comforted puts us at ease with God and peace about the situation.
That is not what we find here in the case of Jacob.
We find Jacob now here before “crossing over” at a climatic point in his spiritual growth.
In chapter 32 the context is Jacob’s return home after 20 years of having to make it on his own. His own plans. His own resources. 20 years, the result of the deceit and turmoil caused by that deceit or His father. He flees from an abusive and conniving uncle only to hear that his brother, Esau, was coming to meet him on his journey home to the promised land.
Esau was coming and Jacob was about to meet up with his forgotten past. Would Esau forgive him or fight him? Would Jacob lose everything he had schemed to acquire? How tragic it is when the past catches up with sinners. Geography could not erase Jacob’s past nor could twenty years of history change it. But before Jacob met Esau, and possibly faced the consequences of his deceit, he experienced three other meetings:
He we actually find 3 meetings Jacob has before He he has to face his brother and deal with the consequences of His deceit.
The Angels
The Angels
v.1 - Seeing the angels should have reminded of his “salvation” encounter. It should have reminded him that God is in control of everything that is happening to him.
God often finds ways to remind us of our “salvation” encounter. He brings his Word to our minds through reading and preaching to give us His promises of safety and blessing. Jacob did something we too often do in response.
He didn’t take comfort in those promises. He ignored the army of protecting angels. Jacob turned back to self-reliance. Jacob tried to figure things out on his own. He tried to scheme and bargain with the world instead of trusting God’s plan and provision.
v.3-5 - He first tries to offer him a gift.
v.6-8 - When he hears that Esau is not coming alone he devises a plan to make sure not all of his family and possessions are lost.
v.9-12 - Then only after after making his plans he prays to God about the deep concern in His heart. He asked God to bless what he had devised instead of seeking the plan God had designed.
v.13-21 - Jacob continues on with and checks over his plan.
The second meeting is with:
The Lord
So, we find that God has to divinely intervene to turn Jacob from himself to God’s will.
He had to get alone with God. God had to get Jacob alone with him so he could bless him, so he could bring about the good in Jacob’s situation.
v.24 - Here we only find the word “man”. When God appears as a man in the OT he is usually called the Angel of the Lord. Hosea gives some confirmation of this encounter.
Hosea 12:4 CSB
4 Jacob struggled with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor. He found him at Bethel, and there he spoke with him.
Jacob’s wrestling was not an encounter in the form of a dream as before. God had to get a lot closer. God had to touch him deeper than just in his sleep. Jacob’s wrestling with the Lord was a real conflict of both his mind and his body, a work of the spirit with intense effort of the body.
Jacob’s wrestling was not an encounter in the form of a dream as before. God had to get a lot closer. God had to touch him deeper than just in his sleep. Jacob’s wrestling with the Lord
Hosea reveals Jacob fought with his human strength and prayed with his spiritual strength. He looks upon the weeping and supplication as the distinguishing feature of this encounter.
Remarkably, the all-powerful Lord did not see fit to overpower Jacob, but allowed him to cling tenaciously to Him all night. The concept of a Christian “wrestling with God” during particularly difficult or fearful times originates in this passage.
As Jacob wrestled with God through the night God had to
As Jacob wrestled with God through the night God had to
As Jacob wrestled with God through the night God had to
Cripple Him
Consecrated Him
Change Him
Keep in mind this prayer was not a struggle to receive a blessing. Jacob was defending himself and refusing to yield. God was breaking Jacob so he could humble Jacob enough to no longer rely on himself but upon God.
What I have come to find out, when you read God’s Word or when you hear God’s Word read and preached it will always do one of two things.
God’s Word will comfort us in our times of concern and trouble.
God’s Word will convict us in our times of concern and trouble.
Being comforted puts us at ease with God and peace about the situation.
That is not what we find here in the case of Jacob.
We find Jacob now here before “crossing over” at a climatic point in his spiritual growth.
For us, encounters with God come through the times we read God’s Word and when we spend time in prayer contemplating His Word or seeking His work to be done in out life.
What I have come to find out, when you read God’s Word or when you hear God’s Word read and preached it will always do one of two things.
God’s Word will comfort us in our times of concern and trouble.
God’s Word will convict us in our times of concern and trouble.
Being comforted puts us at ease with God and peace about the situation.
That is not what we find here in the case of Jacob.
God was convicting Jacob and Jacob didn’t like it. All night Jacob refused to give in to the conviction. He refused to give up his way to God’s way. He refused to repent and own up to his wrong ways. So, God let him hang on, but he touched him in such a way that he would never forget. He crippled him.
In so doing he was consecrating Jacob through the process. One last meeting Jacob had was with
Himself
v.27 - What is your name? - God convicts him, consecrates him, and wants to change him, but Jacob must first take ownership of his problems and of his pride. He had to do this so that God could give him the solution.
Our pride stands in the way of God’s provision. Jacob wasn’t ready for the blessing until he first yielded to the conviction and humbly took ownership of himself.
Once he looked himself in the face and confessed his sin, Jacob could be changed..
As God came to Jacob and gave him a new name, so in Christ God has come to us and given us a new name: Christian. Paul writes in , “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new.” A new name is not only a privilege but also a responsibility to live up to the name. Paul writes in , “Clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Conclusion: The way for us to have the power of God to solve our problems is to be broken by God.
Conclusion: The way for us to have the power of God to solve our problems is to be broken by God.
Limping in the spirit is better than running in the flesh. Our limp will be a sign of God’s strength.
Sometimes you will find yourself unable to sleep at night. God will confront you as he did Jacob. Our angel could be a fear of death, anxiety about school or a job, concerns about family members.
Our angel is often times and uneasy conscience because of un-confessed sin. God convicts us to cripple us, consecrate us, and change us, but he will not bless us until we yield to him in our times of wrestling in prayer.
Jacob’s praying was sure praying, and he was surely changed.
RELATED MEDIA
See the rest →
RELATED SERMONS
See the rest →