Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."Genesis 32:26(NASB)
Jacob had lived for many years working for his uncle Laban. He had married wives and raised a family of eleven sons as well as daughters, but a grumbling hostility had erected a barrier between Jacob and his in-laws. At last, a day came when, prompted by the Holy Spirit of God, Jacob decided to return to his homeland and determined to make reconciliation with his estranged brother, Esau, who had vowed to kill him over 20 years earlier. And so we read that Jacob set out on the long journey to Canaan. He bid a final farewell to his father-in-law at Mizpah and sent gifts to Esau in an attempt to appease his brother.
Not only was he Abraham's grandson and knew that God had promised to bless him and his offspring, Jacob knew it was through him and his children that God's promise of redemption would be fulfilled. Jacob even declared at Bethel that if God would be with him - to keep and protect him in the way that he should go and bring him back to his father's house in peace - then the Lord would be his God and he would be God's servant. But rather than trusting the Lord to provide for him, Jacob used his human cunning and physical skill to determine his path and prosper his work. Instead of relying on God to lead him in the path he should go, Jacob used his own fleshly scheming in the decisions he made.
But God, in His grace, prospered Jacob's work and protected him during his time in Laban's house, and the day came when the Lord needed to refine and hone His servant. Jacob's faith in God needed to be rekindled and God needed to break the fleshly inclinations of this schemer so he would recognise that God and not Jacob had been his Provider and Protector over the years - that God and not Jacob had guided his path. Jacob had to learn to trust in the Lord with ALL his heart. He had to learn to stand on the promises of God and to place his trust in God's provision rather than relying on his own intellect, understanding, and cunning. A day came when Jacob, the heel snatcher and schemer, became Israel - a prince with God.
It happened, as he journeyed to Canaan, that the Lord met with Jacob at the ford of Jabbok... and after his family had crossed over the river, he was left alone to commune with the Lord. Jacob needed the strength to continue his journey; he needed courage to meet with his estranged brother; he needed faith to continue on the road to Canaan; he needed wisdom to know what to do. Jacob needed to submit entirely to God - and we read that a Man, the pre-existent person of Christ, wrestled with him until the break of day.
Despite the superiority of his opponent, Jacob did not withdraw from this encounter with God. He did not retreat from the test that he was facing. Jacob persevered in his spiritual battle until daybreak. And although the Man dislocated the socked of his thigh in the struggle, to demonstrate His unsurpassable strength, Jacob was determined to prevail to the end and receive all that God had promised him - for when the Man said to Jacob, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking," we read that Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." Despite recognising the pre-eminence of his combatant, Jacob endured to the end so that he would receive the promised blessing.
By faith, Jacob endured his trial. His faith was strengthened, he grew in a knowledge and understanding of God, and became an overcomer who was spiritually prepared to relinquish to his own reasoning and to trust the promises and provision of God. After his encounter with the Lord, he was ready and able to receive the reward and blessings that God had prepared for him. Jacob endured to the end and was able to say, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
As a result of his encounter with the Lord, Jacob (the supplanter) became Israel (a prince with God). Fleshly Jacob, who for years had relied on his own manly strength and human initiative, had to die to his own prideful self and manipulative ways. He had to crucify his own fleshly deeds and wholly submit to God's will and live for Him. He had to live by his faith and not his wit. Much of Jacob's own self, strength, pride, and wisdom had to be removed in his wrestling with this heavenly Being.
It is wise to note that Jacob's experience in his wrestling match with the Man Who dislocated his thigh is very similar to the trials, tribulations, and testings that each one of God's children experiences when He wants to teach us an important lesson, instruct us in a necessary truth, or fine-tune our faith in Him. We may not partake in a physical wrestling match with a heavenly Being, but the spiritual battles we encounter require the same response - a dying to self and a living for Christ. The struggles in which we are engaged are not against physical flesh and blood. We are engaged in a spiritual battle against worldly enticements, fleshly lusts, and the spiritual forces of darkness and wickedness in heavenly places.
Rather than relying on our own strength, wisdom, intelligence, and resourcefulness, may we submit to God, resist the devil, die to self, and live for Christ from this day forward and forevermore.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the Scriptures, both Old and New, which are profitable for our learning - for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, and for our spiritual growth and maturity. Thank You for instructing us in our spiritual walk of faith through the lives of those that have gone before, like Jacob, whose pride, resourcefulness, and ingenuity had to be broken before You could use Him to forward Your plans and purposes. Search me, O God, and know my heart, I pray. Try me, and see if there is any wicked way that needs to be refined, honed, corrected, or established. May I live from this day forward for Your eternal praise and glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.