Saturday, June 23, 2012
‘Jacob’ means deceiver. Jacob has deceived his brother, Esau. He had fled to his maternal Uncle, Laban. He married his two daughters, made wealth for himself again deceiving his Uncle. Now he plans to return. As he returns, he is about to meet his brother, Esau whom he had earlier deceived by taking his birthright. He is afraid that Esau might do him harm. So he does what he feels is right at that moment, he sends lot of gifts ahead loaded on camel backs with his servants to his brother. He also sends his close family away to a safe place, so no harm should come to them if he is attacked. Now he alone near the ford of Jabbok alone, when he encounters a Man, whom he wrestles or strives (Hebrew- word) with whole night. At the break of the dawn the Man cannot overcome Jacob, so he dislocates his hip bone. Jacob is adamant that the Man should bless him and the Man does so and he disappears.
Now these Biblical turn of events in Genesis 32, have puzzled many, especially the wrestling with God. In this write-up, I am going to explain to unearth the hidden meaning behind this passage and how we can apply the same to our lives to be successful! In other words, I am going to encourage you to strive against and succeed or wrestle with God, till he blesses you!
1. Your self-image has a power over you: How would you feel if everyday people around you call you a deceiver? You wouldn’t welcome it, would you? Jacob means ‘deceiver’ Jacob has been called a deceiver his whole life. Now words have power to create images in our minds. If I say the word, ‘ice-cream’ what comes your mind? Even, when I say don’t think of a monkey with a red face. You just imagined a monkey with red face, didn’t you? So when Jacob is called a deceiver his whole life, he goes on to behave in the same manner. He deceives his brother by stealing his birthright. He deceives his uncle but before that his uncle Laban had deceived him. So Jacob deceives or is being deceived and he is living in a world of deception! But aren’t we too deceived our whole lives by the culture, tradition, religious beliefs, people’s opinions etc. Somebody says to you, your family was never good at math, so it is impossible for you to make a career in the same field. Somebody says, you are just an average or below average guy or girl and you won’t make it big in life. So we hold on to such opinions and have the image of failures and start acting in the same manner. An eagle’s egg was accidently mixed up with the eggs of a hen. The eaglet was hatched and came out to be surrounded by chicks around it. Now it believed that it is a chick and would grow up to be a hen too. So it replicated the actions of the chickens around it. It hopped, pecked grains and ran around. It was oblivion to the fact that it was born to fly. One day, an eagle saw this eaglet and told it the truth, ‘you are not meant to hop around but fly, give up the deception’. The eagle carried it on its back and let it go and the eaglet first time soared freely in the sky and was free! So the problem that Jacob faces is the same that you and I face. We are all Jacobs in the sense that we go on deceiving not necessarily others, but ourselves our whole lives.
2. Holding on the right image will free you: Now Jacob after all the turn of events is alone near the ford of Jabbok, here he encounters God with whom he strives against and overcomes and he is blessed, his name is now changed to ‘Israel’! I want you note down some significant points here. First, Jacob is alone near the ford of Jabbok. He has let go everything, his family, his belonging, the gifts he was to present to his brother, Esau. In his solitude, he finds an encounter with God. I want you to notice this strange incident carefully; Jacob is near the ford of Jabbok. The Hebrew meaning of Jabbok is ‘to empty itself’. The point I am making is, when you have an uncluttered mind, free from all baggage that you carry around, you will encounter God! We see this happen even in the case of Elijah, he is running away from the queen Jezebel, he is afraid, he flees! After a turn of events, Elijah reaches mount Horeb. Here he encounters an earthquake, storm and fire and the Bible says, God was not in the earthquake, storm or fire! When everything is quiet, he hears the voice of God. Isaiah 30: 5 says, ‘In quietness and confidence shall be your strength!” Friends, to find God within yourself, you have to quieten your mind. Bring it to not, for your mind will always be hooked to the past or think ‘what will be?’ Meditate, quietly where no one disturbs you and you will find God. Jacob finds God when he has emptied himself, he is in solitude.
Second, note what Jacob does. He wrestles with God. Jacob the deceiver has found God and now he wrestles or strives against God whole night. What does this mean? When Jacob encounters God, he encounters his true self and finds the right image! No longer is he Jacob, the deceiver, but now he finds that he is free from this false image. He is an over- comer. In the end, Jacob asks the Man to bless him and what happens; his name is changed to Israel! The Hebrew meaning of Israel is Yi- He, Stra- strive against and El- God. When you strive against all odds to hold on to the image of God within you which is of freedom, joy, abundance and completeness you are blessed. The Bible tells that wrestling with God goes on till the dawn breaks. Friends, hold on to the true image that God gives you till the dawn of blessing breaks forth in your life. Don’t let it go, that is what Jacob does. He holds on, he wrestles and doesn’t let the Man go. Wrestling is done with holding each other tightly. We have to hold on tightly to the real image of ourselves. Till now people may have called you a fool but God says you are wise, you may have an image of defeat but God says you can overcome, you feel you are poor but God says you are abundant. Jacob holds on to God – the true image of himself so long that God has to distract him by dislocating his hip bone! Now his focused mind is again disturbed but he holds on till he is blessed and his name is changed to Israel. “Success is a matter of holding on after others have let go.” Hold on till you are prosperous, hold on till you are healed, hold on till your relations are restored, hold on till you are promoted, hold on till you are free! That is what Jacob does that night and becomes Israel, his name stands today as a witness of blessing of God that has continued generations from generations.
Friends, the Bible many times hides precious pearls of wisdom which need to be unearthed, so that we see the message, act on it and be blessed. Today it tells us from the story of Jacob that image has power over us so we need to know what kind of image we hold of ourselves. We also need to empty ourselves of all the labels that our surroundings have given us and hold on to the image God has in store for us, we need to hold on to it till we are blessed. May we experience blessings of God taking over our lives, may we hold on to the right image.
Joy be all yours.