Wrestling with God – Genesis 32
22 And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. 23 He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. 24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” 27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”
28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” 31 Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.
Some have this idea that a new birth in Christ is a negotiation. The pastor screams a fiery sermon, then passionately asks those in attendance to rise up and come forward if they want this rebirth. The sinner swept up in this passion, emotionally comes forward, but experiences no rebirth goind forward. Some also view salvation as a heretical Pelagian choice, meaning you gird yourself up by an inherent faith, and just believe when you feel it necessary.
When God gives a rebirth, there is no negotitation. Now He may wrestle with you in your sins so that you realize the blessing as Jacob, but He will always prevail. The physical example of Genesis 32:22-32 above is how this works. Some of us like Jacob are so very prideful in our sins, that God will break us into submission no matter how long it takes. God doesn’t say then “you idiot, why didn’t you submit earlier?” or gloat over this victory or demean you because of your MANY sins, rather like with Jacob, He is gracious in this forgiveness and blessing.
Jacob was given a new heart and the evidence of this is as he wrestled with the pre-incarnate Christ, he said “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”. You see, when the rebirth comes there is no mistaking it, no second guessing, because you cling to Christ with your last grip. It is not some emotional experience only, but truly a life changing event. Jacob’s hip was thrown out of the socket so that he would always remember that day. Again, being prideful, Jacob needed to realize who he was and who God is.
The analogy of the wrestling will come in different forms tailored for every born-again sinner. God might break you financially so that you realize that He, not money, is the focus now. He might take a relationship away from you so that your focus now is on Him, and not your degenerate lusts. He might expose the church you are involved with as false, so that you repent of the idolatry and blasphemy of that church. He might take a job away on you so that your focus is now on His Gospel, not your anxieties. There are many other life changing things He could employ and does.
The point is if you have been reborn of God, you are not going to be on the same path as your degenerate past. He CHANGES that path immediately! If you felt nothing days/weeks/months after the pastor told you to “come forward” it because that rebirth was a fraud. The rebirth is realized at your very core and is profound! Your worldview has drastically shifted in the focus of God, His word, and the Gospel now as your priorities.
Some like me need a sledge hammer so to speak, to the head, in order to wake up and realize this rebirth. But make no mistake, when God gives this rebirth, it is realized and although not immediately completely understood, you realize something happened to your life. Your entire love and focus is on God. You LOVE Scripture more than your daily food and drink and without it, you fell empty. Folks around you also can see something rather profound as happened because you are not your degenerate self. You might immediately lose friends and family, but it is their loss, not yours!
Lastly, praise God for that wrestling! When He took you from a dark depraved existence into His light in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit! God always wins! World religions always fail!