EHP Day 17-Grappling With God
And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
Perhaps 600 years-old, dating to a phrase from Chaucer, the proverb “Chickens always come home to roost” reminds that hens forage outside during the day, yet habitually return to their nests in the evening. Meaning? “Your offenses toward others most certainly rebound back to you.”
An anxious Jacob may not have tended chickens, but the imminent rebound of his deceptive cheating of brother Esau neared. An ominous scouting report: “Esau is coming to meet you; He has 400 men with him.” Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed (Gen. 32:6). His untethered imagination tried to estimate how much bitterness was still burning within his twin. Slim the chances for a positive reunion. Jacob’s options for self-preservation vaporized in his fright.
That night, alone on Jabbok’s far side, an unknown man not only appeared but attacked. Wrestling is desperate engagement. Ancient wrestling often ended in the complete incapacitation, if not death, of the opponent. They wrestled till sunrise. For hours. Born tenacious, Jacob exerted what physical leverage he could muster. Advantage Jacob! until…until the man successful dislocated his hip. Now, pain knifed through a limp limb, and in early morning light, the Opponent insisted the match conclude. But had it dawned on Jacob his nocturnal Foe was his God (or, at least, God’s messenger. The pre-incarnate Son?). Clenching harder, a desperation for God’s help cried out, “No! First bless me!” Grappling acutely with God—the exercise Jacob’s uncertain soul needed for peace.