02/01/S – Wrestling with God

Genesis 32:13-33:20; Matthew 11:7-19; Psalm 14:7; Proverbs 6:16-19

OT: “Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he could not defeat him, he struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip. 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.” “What is your name?” the man asked. “Jacob,” he replied. “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.” …After Jacob came from Paddan-aram, he arrived safely at Shechem in the land of Canaan and camped in front of the city. He purchased a section of the field where he had pitched his tent from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of silver. And he set up an altar there and called it God, the God of Israel.” (‭‭Genesis‬ 32:24-28; ‭33:18-20‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

The “man” that Jacob wrestled with is a mystery. The prophet Hosea describes him as the angel. Some translations capitalize Man and The Angel signifying the belief that the “man” could have been the pre-incarnate Son of God. Whomever the “man” was, Jacob physically wrestled with him and was tenacious in doing do. The human will is very powerful, second only to the will of God. When someone sets his will to do something, it is difficult for anyone or anything to defeat it. Jacob was a very strong-willed man – and he set his will to get blessed, so he wrestled and held on tenaciously until he got what he wanted. Did Jacob have to wrestle with God to get blessed? No. God had promised to bless him without the wrestling. In wrestling with God, Jacob was, in a way, wrestling with his own will – and in the end, Jacob, marked for life with a limp and a new name, finally decides to make God his God. The name Israel means “God Prevails.” So for the rest of his life, Jacob will have a physical reminder of his wrestling match – and will also carry a name that reminds him that no matter how willful and independent he is, God will ultimately prevail.

NT: “Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared, but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force… Let anyone who has ears listen. To what should I compare this generation? It’s like children sitting in the marketplaces who call out to other children: We played the flute for you, but you didn’t dance; we sang a lament, but you didn’t mourn! For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:11-12, 15-19‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Violent used here isn’t the kind of violence we see in movies… it isn’t talking about physical violence. It is talking about intense exertion and ardent zeal. The kingdom of God is in direct opposition to the kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of darkness – and the kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of darkness does subject those in the Kingdom of God with physical violence – but Jesus is talking about those who are actually in the kingdom. How did they get there, and why are they greater than John the Baptist? They were and are ardently zealous for the will, word, and ways of God. Instead of wrestling with God, they “violently” pursue the Lord and keep their flesh, the lures of the world, and the temptations of the enemy forcefully in check. Most people, according to Jesus, are like children who just want to play around with life and get upset when they don’t get what they want or lose what they have… never satisfied and always judging those who set side childish things and ardently pursue the Kingdom. Am I going to be someone that wrestles with the things that God calls me to… or am I going to be someone who embraces the things of God and ardently, “violently” pursues them to the death of childishness in my life?

Proverbs: “The Lord hates six things; in fact, seven are detestable to him: arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭6:16-19‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

These are 7 things that are detestable to God and completely in contradiction to His Kingdom. Note to self… don’t be guilty of these things.

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