From cheater to champion

Genesis 32:27-28 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

dv1644052As we have learned over the past several weeks, Jacob was kind of a scoundrel. He lied, stole, and cheated… yet he got really mad when someone cheated him.  Through it all, however, Jacob started growing up.  He turned to the Lord and asked for favor.  He worked hard and tried to honor God.  Today, Jacob finds himself on a journey to meet up with his older brother who he had not seen since he stole his birthright.  He is kind of hanging around at the back of the pack when he finds himself alone.

Then it happens.  A mysterious man (God) shows up and wrestles with him.  Jacob is tenacious and wrestles all night long with this guy.  Somehow he realizes that this is no ordinary man, but one sent from heaven.  So he is determined to not let go without receiving a blessing.  Can you just see Jacob holding on for his life?  “I won’t let go of you, God! I am about to meet my angry brother. I need your favor and your blessing.”

What takes place next changes Jacob’s life forever.  This “man” asks him what his name is.  He responds with “Jacob.”  And at that moment, God changes his name to Israel.  That may not seem all that significant, but if you take the meaning of these names into account, it really is.

What’s your name?

Heel grabber.  Cheat, Liar, Thief.

That’s not who you are any more.  Your new name is God Prevails. 

God truly did prevail with this heel grabber.  He pursued him and loved him.  In Malachi 1:3, God says “Jacob have I loved.”  Did you catch that? Jacob have I loved.  Not Israel. Jacob.  He loved that heel grabber.  He loved that man who wrestled with men and overcame.  He loved that man who held on to his God all night in desperation.  And he loved him enough to change his future.  That future started with his identity.  He said, “You are no longer a heel grabber, son.  You are a man in whom I will prevail!”   Jacob the cheater became Israel the champion.

*What’s God saying about you?  Are you identifying yourself with the person you used to be? Cling onto Him and begin to discover what God says about you! 



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