Bible Society of South Africa

He wrestled with God – 4 June 2021

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

26The second one was born holding on tightly to the heel of Esau, so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.

Genesis 25:26GNBOpen in Bible reader

From birth, he was a very interesting person. One of twins, but because he was the second one to be born, according to the customs of his time, he was deemed to be the youngest. But that did not deter him from becoming the more prominent of the two. At birth, he already hung on to his brother’s heel and was so named. In Hebrew, the sound of the word for “heel” and the name “Jacob” is very similar, but the root of the word can also be interpreted as “deceiver”. Even before he was born, God said to Rebecca that the older twin would serve the younger one.

When one looks at the way that Jacob robbed Esau of his birthright as the firstborn son, as well as the paternal blessing, the name “deceiver” might very well be correct. It also proved not to be the last time that Jacob used a shady method. When Laban made a deal with Jacob about the livestock, Jacob devised something to ensure that his livestock would increase at a much better rate than that of Laban.

In spite of all this, God had a special purpose for Jacob. One night, he had a dream of a stairway stretching from earth to heaven and God standing there. God made a promise to Jacob. Everything came to a climax at the River Jabbok when Jacob wrestled with Somebody. What happened that night is not easy to explain. Most translations mention a man as Jacob’s adversary, but in Genesis 32:28 we read, ”’Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have struggled with God and with men, and you have won; so your name will be Israel.’”

After many sojourns and an eventful life, everything that God planned for Jacob came to fruition. The “deceiver” became “God contender”. From deceiver to the father of the people of Israel and his 12 sons became the patriarchs of the people of God

God never gave up on changing the name “Jacob” to “Israel” and He wants to change everybody’s name from “sinner” to “child of God.”

Prayer: How can we ever understand your grace that also wants to change me from “Jacob” to “Israel”? I want to thank you that you will never let me fall from your grace. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.14.1
Find us on