Daily Readings and Thought for January 19th. “Jacob wrestles with a man until the breaking of the day”


 The character of Jacob is a real mixture, but is that not true of most, if not all of us!  His character matures somewhat over time, hopefully that is also true of us.  Twenty years elapses from when his mother Rebecca sends him away to her homeland and relatives to escape the wrath of Esau because Jacob had taken both his birthright and blessing. 

They had been 20 years in which God had blessed him; he now has 2 wives, his cousins Leah and Rachel, 11 children and possesses large herds of sheep and goats despite the machinations of his father-in-law Laban.  We now read “the LORD said to Jacob” (but we are not told how, a dream or an angel?), “return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred and I will be with you.” [Genesis 31 v.29]   After a final encounter with Laban, “Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him.” [Ch.32 v.1] but again we are given no details as to how.  After learning that Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men he anxiously says (prays) “O God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, ‘return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good.’ I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and faithfulness …  for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan … please deliver me from the hand of my brother …” [v.9-11]

He reminds God (not that God needed reminding!) that “you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea which cannot be numbered …”  [v.12]  Then Jacob encounters another angel.  He is alone and he wrestles with this “man … until the breaking of the day” and is told “your name shall no longer be called Jacob but Israel” [v.24,28].  Tomorrow we will read how this statement is expanded (Ch.35 v. 9-13) which includes the words “then God went up from him” – making it obvious it was an angel. 

So Jacob, now called Israel, became the father of the 12 tribes.  God, through his angels, reveals himself as very merciful to a man who, although strong in some ways, is gentle and caring in others and is upset by violence.  The angels he encounters show that God responds to these characteristics despite times of showing uncertain faith.  These things have lessons for us, how long will it be before we encounter angels? 

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