One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Wednesday, January 16, 2013: Genesis 32:13-34:31
The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Genesis 32:31 (ESV)
The Lord came to Jacob in the form of an angel, and they wrestled all night long. Quite an amazing story. Don't think for a moment that this Angel of the Lord could not finish off Jacob easily. Instead, He chose to contend with him. John Ortberg says of this passage that there is something of a feistiness that God wants in us. He does not desire that we lay down and play dead -- to mindlessly submit. He desires that we contend with Him. Why? Because He wants to change us! He wants to transform us. He wants each of us to lay out our entire being before Him, and then He will touch us in a moment. He will give us a new walk and a new name.
A wise man of God once said, "I don't trust any leader who doesn't walk with a limp." It was A.W. Tozer that said it this way: “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” This may sound strange to you, but it is exactly what He did with Jacob. There is a breaking that God must do in us before He can use us mightily. We are like the young stallion running across the field. Powerful, but useless UNTIL broken. God teaches us to bring our strength under His control.
Peter is one of the best examples in Scripture of this principle. Of all the disciples, Peter received the hardest words, the severest testing. Why? A.B. Bruce, in his great book The Training of the Twelve, says, "The mirrors must be finely polished that are designed to reflect the image of Christ!" The height of the call corresponds to the depth of the discipleship.
Why is God leading you through such a struggle? Perhaps it is because He has special plans for you. Why does He touch things in your life that He seems to ignore in others? Has He chose you for special difficulty, or for special power, special blessing?
The Angel touched the socket in Jacob's hip and permanently damaged it. He gave him a limp. From that day forward, Jacob would remember the moment he was face-to-face with God. He would remember that he was changed from being a supplanter (that's what "Jacob" means) to a prince (that's what "Israel" means).
It is a beautiful picture to see Jacob limping out of a place called Penuel (it means "face of God") as the sun comes up. It was a new day. Jacob walked differently. He had a new name. He had been transformed.