“Cutting to the Chase” Meditations 17: Transformed People
Gen 32:28“Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel.”
Note the word ‘Then’. What we saw yesterday has to come first, the awareness of who we are (were) without God. Jacob had lived a life where the word ‘God’ was just something in the background, part of the history of his people, and because of that he had to make all the running in his life. He was born grabbing hold of his twin brothers heel (Gen 25:26) and they named him Jacob – grabber – and he spent the bulk of his life grabbing to improve himself, grabbing to get more. He grabbed for a birthright (25:31), he grabbed for a blessing (27:18-), he grabbed for a wife (29:18), he grabbed for bigger flocks and herds (30:29-), he grabbed for escape (31:17-), he grabbed for re-acceptance by Esau (32:3) and then he had to grab for survival as he wrestled with God.
But then God did three things for him: he gave him a new name, a blessing, and a dislocated hip! All these three things would remain with him for the rest of his life.
First the name. From ‘grabber’ or ‘twister’ to ‘God-wrestler’. Which is better? God likes those who will wrestle with Him – and come through the other side. Remember God initiated the wrestling match because He saw Jacob’s potential (the end of his story is great) and through it Jacob is transformed and became a great Patriarch. Humility faces who we really are outside of Christ AND the wonder of who we are ‘in Christ’. Let both those truths do their work in you.
Second, the blessing. A blessing is a decree of goodness from God. It was like a statement over him that said, “This man is to be a recipient of all of God’s goodness from this blessing onwards.” Now, here’s the thing, we looked at this in study number 15, you and are recipients of God’s blessing because we are ‘in Christ’. There is a threefold truth attached to this: God is with us, God is for us, and God will provide for us all we need for the coming days until we walk into eternity.
Third, the dislocated hip. Actually this was the first of the three things that the other two things make bearable. From then on he was limping (32:31). I have watched many saints I know and have respected getting old and in some way or other ‘limping’. Occasionally it seems there is a Moses whose “eyes were not weak nor his strength gone” (Deut 34:7) but mostly I watch increasing limitations. What is going on here? Crudely speaking, getting ready for heaven mixed with an increased realization that all we have is grace and our reliance on him has to grow, not diminish, as we mature. Out of this, we see Jacob renewed and he becomes a Patriarch with a strong prophetic gift that is used to bless his family. Awesome!