Through our study of Genesis at theStory, no story has stuck out to me like that of Jacob’s narrative. Maybe its because I don’t see a lot of redeemable qualities in his life. He’s a swindler and deceiver from the start and my heart always ends up going to Esau who seems like he was the more upright individual who was taken advantage of over and over again. Maybe its because I don’t see him caring a whole lot about other but instead is always trying to get stuff for himself and bring safety for himself. It’s hard to see a line of the people of God coming through a man like this.
Today we looked at when Jacob wrestles God/the man or angel and then he gets his name changed and his hip broken. We’ve sort of rested on the fact that his name changed shows his past and his hip sort of defines his future. One thing that we have not been able to come to grips with yet is why even thought Jacob’s name gets changed twice in Genesis, both times to Israel, no one ever acknowledges it. The narrator and other characters always continue to call him Jacob. Unlike the story of Abram and Sarai when their names get changed it happens immediately with no looking back. With Jacob though it seems to take five or so decades before he finally clues in that he is Israel and not Jacob.
So much of Genesis is about Jacob’s struggle to make God his God. We see in some verses how he calls God the God of his father and of Abraham, but it takes a while before he finally calls God his God. God tells him twice that his name has been changed but its not until the Genesis does he actually acknowledge it. The story of Jacob wrestling isn’t about this single scene of Jacob wrestling God and walking away with a blessing. Instead I see it more as it being a story that defines Jacob as a character; his desire to be blessed, his inclination to be wrestling with God’s way of doing things and then in the end God getting what he wants and Jacob wanting what God wants.
Jacob’s story is a beautiful story of how God blesses and protects those that don’t deserve it and even those that try to force it. God doesn’t allow our selfishness or even our own plans get in the way of his own and we can either be bent to his will or we can participate with him freely. It’s not really a story about a hero who makes it in the end, but a story of a failure that God uses to accomplish his purposes.