In this passage of the life story of Jacob, God is preparing him to enter the promised land. It’s a turning point in his life. We know that he cheated his brother Esau and deceived his father, and subsequently had to flee for his life. There were many years in the ‘wilderness’ where it seems that Jacob had been reaping what he’d sowed.
The day, however, comes when he decided to go back home, where he truly belonged. But how could he possibly face Esau? Before he entered his promised land he had this amazing encounter with God, where he wrestled with Him.
There’s something very significant happening during this night when he was alone with His God. God asked him what his name was, and he answered truthfully, ‘Jacob’, which means ‘deceiver’ or ‘the one who grabs the heel’ (of his brother Esau at birth). It doesn’t speak of the finest inheritance. But, in response, God said that he would no longer be called that, but that his name would be Israel, ‘the one who wrestles with God’. This was a much more promising name.
Our enemy often tries to give us a bad name, or a false label, like failure, victim, outcast, unloved, or addict. So sometimes we have to be with our God, and wrestle with Him to find out what He thinks of us, and what name He gives us. Only if we spend this quality time with Him, and ponder over His Word (truth), will we be able to find out, as Jacob did when he got his new name. It wasn’t only a new name he received, but a new identity and new destiny. The destiny actually wasn’t so new. It was what God had planned and intended for him all along, from the very beginning.
So God wants to change us to prepare us for our destiny, or, in other words, our promised land. There was one more detail in this story. He got wounded on his hip, and was limping from that moment on. For me that seems to be a sign of humility, and, in this attitude, he was able to face Esau and reconcile with him. That was the way he finally entered his promised land.
Often the preparation takes quite a long time, while God is changing us more into His likeness. I sometimes say that it took God three days to bring his people from slavery out of Egypt, but then it took Him forty years to take Egypt out of His people to get ready for the promised land.
To find our true identity in Jesus, it’s important to cross the Jordan River, but as long as we mainly see ourselves as grasshoppers that will be difficult. According to 1 Peter 2:9, we’re called to be a ‘royal priesthood’. Whenever you struggle with your true identity in Jesus, then read all the greetings from Paul in His letters, and see how he addresses the believers; the chosen ones, the called ones, the loved ones, the holy ones, the equipped ones.
It’s a process of renewing our mind and our thinking, which includes repentance, cleansing, forgiveness, healing and deliverance, so that we grow in maturity as believers. May God lead you in special steps towards your own promised land, or expand the territory you already have in the promised land.
Prayer: Father, please show me what You think of me, and reveal to me the name, and my true identity in You, which You’ve given me. Show me where I still think in a wrong way about myself, or about You, and lead me into all truth through Your Holy Spirit. Thank You so much that You’ll travel with me towards the goal, and that You have a personal promised land for me. Thank You that, with Your help, I can remove all blockages which might hinder me getting there. Thank You for restoring Your plans and purposes for my life back to me. Amen.
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