Advent Series 2015: This piece originally appeared in the He Reads Truth Advent Series. Along with many of their reading plans you can find it here in full.
Many years ago, when I was a senior in high school, several of my friends attempted to convince me to go out for the wrestling team. I’m kind of a bigger guy, and apparently there was a need for competitors in the heavyweight division. I’d never competitively wrestled before, but I thought, How hard could it be?
At first I was flattered, but then I realized what they actually needed was a sparring partner for our school’s biggest and strongest wrestler. We’ll just call him Samson for the sake of the story. Anyway, as soon as I realized that my role on the team was to be a glorified tackling dummy for Samson, I graciously (or perhaps not so graciously) bowed out.
I cannot for the life of me imagine what Jacob was thinking when he locked arms with God. The idea of grappling with Samson in a controlled environment was enough to make me think twice; but wrestling with the Almighty?!
Jacob spent his entire life looking for an angle; a way to better his situation. As we’re well aware, those angles weren’t always characterized by wise choices. I think wrestling with God takes the cake for questionable decisions.
God in His mercy honored the longing in Jacob’s heart, who, like so many of us, yearned for blessing, acceptance, and to be known by his Maker. The LORD did Jacob one better. In addition to blessing, acceptance, and a face-to-face encounter with the Most High, God gave Jacob a new identity: Israel.
However, as we know from the remainder of the wrestler’s story, Jacob failed to live fully into his new calling...
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