(this sermon was written by one of my vicars and good friends, Mark Jennings…. who is also an incredible artist…. check out his work at: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/mark-jennings.html )
LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!
Welcome one and all to the event of the century! Two men enter and one man will be victorious in this battle, in a wrestling match for the ages!
In this corner hailing from Haran, a farmer and shepherd and ninety plus year old man, the challenger and underdog Jacob.
In the opposite corner coming from Heaven, we have God in the form of a man or in some translations, an angel or as I was always taught the pre-Incarnate Christ.
I wonder what the line in Vegas would have been for this event?
The outcome seems like a done deal doesn’t it? I mean really, a 90 plus year old man is going to wrestle with God. How could he even have a remote chance of winning?
It would appear that God is going to give Jacob a smack down!
So let’s turn to our Old T lesson, ring the bell and get this match started and find out.
We tune in at verse 34 and it says, “This left Jacob alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, He touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of the socket. Then the man said,” Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”
A frail, puny human is able to struggle and wrestle with God and beat Him?
A creature that God created was able to wrestle and struggle with the Almighty to at least a tie if not the win?
Impossible? Yes! But yet possible through God!
So let me ask you this. Do you, like Jacob, wrestle and struggle with God?
Do you wrestle and struggle in what would seem like impossible situations or maybe they are possible situations that you don’t concern God with. Maybe like the undercard before the main event? They are not important enough to bother God and besides you can handle can’t you?
Sometimes it may feel like the more impossible a situation may seem the more we can be tempted to pray without hope. Is this prayer really going to do any good or do we just go through the motions.
So again let me ask you, do you struggle and wrestle with God?
Are you ready to step into the ring?
Do you wanna wrassle?
The thought of wrestling with and struggling with God is a scary one. How can we wrestle with God? Doesn’t it sound sinful and rebellious and defiant?
But in answer to that it is God who allows it to happen.
I mean really when you think about it how could Jacob truly wrestle God and win?
First off how could have Jacob done this if faith had not been given to him from God? If you don’t believe in God and are not confident in the certain hope of the relationship forged and crafted for you then who would you pray to or attempt to struggle with. Just in that very idea, you see God working for His children.
We are able to wrestle with God jut like Jacob did because our Father sent His Son to do just that at and on the cross. Jesus took our sin and struggled in pure agony and wrestled the pain of death on the cross and bought victory for all people proven at the empty tomb.
Through the Incarnate Christ you have been given faith.
Jacob wrestling God is an awesome account of God working in us and through us and as we see the struggle of Jacob wrestling God, substitute this word instead of wrestling-substitute the word prayer or praying.
If you go back into Jacob’s life you will see that we living right now have a lot in common with Jacob. He had successes and he had failures. He had a family. He had good times and bad times. He had betrayal and loyalty. He was a sinner and he had faith.
See any similarities to your lives?
Jacob had all these things but he also had faith! So much faith that he was able to wrestle God and prevail.
As he was wrestling with God, something crucial happens. They wrestle until dawn as neither will quit. Finally the man knows that Jacob will not give in or give up and he touches Jacob’s hip and it is wrenched out of the socket. I know one person here today for sure who can empathize with the pain of a broken hip ( Chet).
When this happens all Jacob can now do is hold on for dear life and grasp the man never letting go for fear of falling. Now he needed the man for support! No fancy wrestling moves like the full nelson or the flying elbow. All Jacob can do is hold on and no matter what, Jacob wasn’t going to let go! As the man asks to be let go, Jacob replies,”I will not let go until you bless me!”
Ir almost seems like Jacob’s opponent cheats doesn’t it? He knows He can’t win so he cripples Jacob.
Did God cheat? Quite the contrary, He does this so Jacob having faith now must depend on the man to even stand at this point. Jacob must depend on the man.
Jacob must depend on God.
So do you struggle and wrestle with God, dependent on Him or do you hold on to something else and wrestle with it such as false gods and false idols which wrestle you and win and take the place of God?
Your sin is trying always to defeat you and pin you to the mat like an insect pinned to a board as a specimen.
Our Lord wrestles with us and cripples us in the way that we become fully dependent on Him and that nothing else matters. When God wrestles with us it is not as an adversary trying to pin us and win the match but instead it is to build us up and empower us through His beloved Son so that we will have victory over the adversary who is prowling around trying to consume and devour us in sin.
We have been given victory. We can struggle and wrestle with God in prayer and through Him we can pin Him and hold Him to His promises to us through Christ.
As you wrestle and grapple with God through prayer in the faith given to you in Baptism, God wants you to hold onto Him and pin Him with His promises. These are the promises of forgiveness of sins, salvation and eternal life bought and paid for by the Christ with His blood.
This is the promise come to fruition in the work of our Savior who frees us and calls us to faith in Him. This faith is what allows us to take everything to Him in prayer grapple with God and depend on Him.
Jacob struggled with God and overcame not because he was a superhero or all powerful but because God was and is always faithful to His people with His promises and because he had given Jacob faith.
At the end of their wrestling match, God tells Jacob, ” Your name will no longer be Jacob. From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and won.”
Jacob, whose name meant heel or button, asks for a blessing and God changes His name to Israel meaning one who contends or struggles with God.
It is no coincidence that the priesthood of all believers is called through Christ, the new Israel. After all is there anyone here today who doesn’t struggle with God?
You see the real meaning is that yes you do struggle and wrestle with God through prayer and the Word not to gain an advantage over Him or but to take advantage of His promises given to you.
You have faith and you can trust in His promises. This wrestling match began at your Baptism.
Our Father in His love, compassion and kindness wrestles with us in order to show us that His promises are complete and ironclad. He needs to show us how all these other things that we put our confidence and trust in are and really just how useless they are.
Hold on to God like Jacob held on. There was nothing that was going to make Him let go of God in their wrestling match not even a crippling injury!
Hold on to His promises. Pin Him with His promises! This is want our Father in Heaven wants! This is great joy for Him when you who are His children pin Him with His promises so that He can call you Israel-he who struggles with God and overcomes through Christ in that life giving faith, certain hope and confidence knowing that you are His forever!
Trust and wrestle with Him who loves us so much that He gave us salvation through the sacrifice of His only Son and whose promises never fail. Wrestle with Him and know our loving Heavenly Father who wrestles with His child expecting to pinned by those perfect promises!
In other words trust and depend on Him as Jacob did!
So, do you wanna wrassle?
Late Discussion/Devotional Thought of the Day…..
It was faith that made Abraham offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice when God put Abraham to the test. Abraham was the one to whom God had made the promise, yet he was ready to offer his only son as a sacrifice. 18 God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that you will have the descendants I promised.” 19 Abraham reckoned that God was able to raise Isaac from death—and, so to speak, Abraham did receive Isaac back from death. 20 It was faith that made Isaac promise blessings for the future to Jacob and Esau. 21 It was faith that made Jacob bless each of the sons of Joseph just before he died. He leaned on the top of his walking stick and worshiped God. 22 It was faith that made Joseph, when he was about to die, speak of the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, and leave instructions about what should be done with his body. Hebrews 11:17-22 (TEV)
Our Bible Study arrived at this passage this morning, as we’ve been journeying through the Book of Hebrews…a passage well known to my older saints.
It was noted during our study, how the faith discussed in Abraham, Issac, Jacob and Joseph all have to deal with death, and not just heaven, but the future after we have gone.
Of the things Abe could be noted for, it was for the future that he trusted God. That God would fulfill His promises for the descendants that would come through Issac – even though Abraham was on his way to kill the very son who was to be the one through whom the promise was made. Issac’s sacrifice would have put an end to that promise… except that Abraham knew God could raise someone from the dead.
Of all the things Issac could be noted for, well actually we don’t know all that much about him… but Hebrews notes the faith demonstrated in not just blessing the son who would inherit, but blessing the son who turned his back on the inheritance…. and his family. Until Esau realizes how much he’s given up…and so, led by God, and knowing God’s heart for all the world… Issac blesses his prodigal son…and Esau’s descendants are saved in Christ’s death on the cross, for they are among the nations whom will be blessed.
Jacob as well, the one who wrestled with God (setting an interesting precedent for his own descendants..) is not know for that – but again for blessing his grandchildren, and worshiping God. He too passes on the promise…
Joseph too – it’s not the trust in God that would see him through kidnapping, or the jail time, or the global famine…..
The prayer is for the sustenance of the people – that they would, as well, be sustained during the promised time of exile, through to the time of the promise land – generations to come..,,,,
Each trusted in God – for a promise that includes us, those who trusted in God for the future, a future that they knew God would fulfill.
Because they knew God, because they walked with Him, because they knew His love.
Can we see our faith in God, yes for heaven, but for the generations that will follow, trusting God. …. can we know the God who blesses us, will bless them….
Lord have mercy on us… and on those that follow…