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After Jacob had been living for a long, long time in the land where his wives were from, the angel of God came to him in a dream and said, “Jacob, I am the God of Bethel, where you poured oil on the stone and made a vow to Me. Do you remember how you made a vow that I would be your God? Well, I want you to leave this land immediately and return to the land you were born in.”
So Jacob and his wives and all their children set out for Canaan.
As they got closer to Canaan, Jacob sent some messengers and gifts ahead to Esau, hoping it might help Esau to not be mad at him anymore. But the messengers returned, and told Jacob that Esau was coming with 400 men! Jacob was scared. Really scared. He thought Esau would hurt him and his family.
But Jacob cried out to God. He reminded God again and again, “God, You promised to make me do well here. Even though I don’t deserve it, You have shown me faithful love. Please rescue me from my brother Esau. You promised that You would protect me, and make my children and grandchildren as many as the sand on the seashore!”
The night before Esau was going to be there, Jacob sent his wives and children over to a safer place on the other side of a big stream. So Jacob was alone resting.
Suddenly there was a Man with him. And the man started wrestling with Jacob. So Jacob wrestled back — hard. Jacob did not want to let the man beat him.
“I’m strong and smart! I can beat him, I can do it myself!” And Jacob wrestled and wrestled with the man. This way, that way, twist, shove, this way, that way, rolling, tugging. All night long!
The sun started to come up and the Man knew that Jacob was just going to keep on fighting and fighting. So the Man decided to put a stop to it. He touched Jacob’s hip — TOUCH — and that touch made it broken.
Then he said to Jacob, “Now let me go, Jacob.”
But Jacob said, “I am not going to let you go until you bless me! I won’t let go. I won’t let go. I won’t let go until you BLESS ME!”
Jacob knew the value of a Blessing from God, didn’t he? He had gotten the blessing that should have been Esau’s. Then he got his own blessing when Isaac and God both told him that he would receive the things promised to Abraham (and that was big). And now Jacob was going to fight for another blessing. Why was what he had not enough? What was Jacob wanting?
It wasn’t more stuff Jacob wanted. Jacob had plenty of stuff. But something on Jacob’s inside, in his heart, knew there was MORE, and he wanted it. He wanted the fullest Blessing from God that any person could have in this life, and that is not a bad thing to want. So, let’s see if he gets it.
“What is your name?” the Man asked.
“My name is Jacob.” (Remember that the name Jacob means a tricky, sneaky “grabber” from behind — a deceiver.)
The Man said, “Well now, Jacob, from this time on, your name will be Israel, which means GOD Fights. You’ve struggled with God and man and you’ve won. And what you have won is that you don’t have to try to do everything yourself anymore. You’re Blessed! You can trust God and let HIM fight and win for you.”
And the Special Man DID bless Jacob. Jacob then realized that the Special Man he had been wrestling wasn’t just a Special Man. It was GOD!
God gave Jacob a special “present” that night. The present was that God always kept Jacob’s hip just a little, itsy bit broken. Does that seem like a funny “present”? He was never able to walk normally again. But it was a gift to help Jacob always remember that night. Step. Ouch! Smile.
With every step Jacob took he would remember that God had changed him. Jacob wasn’t just a normal, tricky, deceiving guy any more. Jacob was a man who was Blessed by God, a man who didn’t have to fight for himself any longer. He was now a guy that God could use to Build His Nation. Step. Ouch! Smile. Step. Ouch! Smile. Step. Ouch! Smile.
So even a small touch from God can make you limp for a lifetime. But, as long as you get His Blessing, it’s worth every little ouchie step! (Because some pain just doesn’t even matter.)