Israel - יִשְׂרָאֵל
When you read Genesis 32, you will find a very dramatic account of Jacob when he returns from his long exile in Paddan-Aram, his mother’s hometown. While reading, pay attention to the Man who wrestled with Jacob that night.
22That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.
28Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel (יִשְׂרָאֵל ),e because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” ( כִּי-שָׂרִיתָ עִם-אֱלֹהִים וְעִם- אֲנָשִׁים, וַתּוּכָל. )
29Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30So Jacob called the place Peniel( פְּנִיאֵל, meaning ‘Face of God), saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,g and he was limping because of his hip. 32Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
Who do you think was the Man who wrestled with Jacob that night? What was the status of the Man? First, He had the appearance of a man and He was not able to overpower Jacob. Jesus was born of Virgin Mary and had an exact body like us. If Jesus, my Lord had wrestled with me, He might not have overpowered me too.
Out of his desperate situation with Esau, Jacob begged Him to bless him. The Man blessed Jacob by changing his name from Jacob( יַעֲקֹב ) to Israel( יִשְׂרָאֵל); namely ‘supplanter ‘ to ‘prince with God, or, power with God ‘. Earlier God changed his grandparents’ names; from Abram(high father ), Sarai(my princess ) to Abraham(the father of many nations) and Sarah(princess). Instinctively Jacob knew that the Man who changed his name is God Himself. That’s the reason why Jacob asked the Man’s name. Rather than telling His name, the Man blessed him. Jacob knew that he had seen God face to face and was troubled to know that he would die because he was fully aware of the fact that no man should live when he saw God face to face. Moses was an exception. Jacob named the place where he met God as ‘Peniel(Face of God).
Who was the Man? He was none other than the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. The Lord who met Jacob at the ford of the River Jabbok is ready to meet us today to solve your life’s problem whatever it might be. Let’s go to Him in prayer and He will answer us in due time. Amen.