Contend With God
I always struggled to understand the favour Jacob received from God. Everyime I read the story of Jacob he comes across, stubborn, snide and cunning. Jacob takes advantage of Esau’s hunger and used it to cheat him out of his birthright.
“Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom. ) Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.”
Genesis 25:29-34 NIV
After that he also goes on to with the help of his mother decieve his father to ensure he gets the blessings intended for Esau. How is all this the making of a man that God chooses to bless and favour.
“Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.””
Genesis 27:6-10 NIV
So it made me ask why is it that God favoured Jacob, that He changes his name to Israel, the name God gave to His chosen people. Whenever I have thought of the story of Jacob, i thought he contended with an angel but in actuality he contended with God, how is it possible for man to contend with God and win?
“And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.”
Genesis 32:22-32 NKJV
Why would God name His people Israel, which we know means “For you have struggled with God and with man, and you prevailed.”
God started to show me that sometimes we have to be willing to persist in HIs presence for the blessing He has for us. Often we sit, we pray and when we don’t get what we want straightaway, we give up, blame God, claim He doesn’t answer our prayers.
Sometimes it will get uncomfortable and our immediate reaction can be to blame the devil, but sometimes it’s God, He wants to see how much we will persist in the trial for the blessing we claim we want.
When I was young and my parents gave me money, it was easier to spend it wrecklessly on anything I wanted because I didnt toil for it and so I didn’t value it. But since i started working and earning money it is harder to spend money wastefully. God wants you to contend in His pressence for your lessing, so that when you get it you value it.
One of the misconceptions we have about this faith, is when we give our lives it’ll get easy. Jesus warns us of the opposite, “…because they hated Me, they will hate you also.” We need to be more prepared to face the trials and not take it as a sign that something isn’t meant to be. With God the victory is assured but the trial isn’t annulled. We have to learn to persist in HIs presence and at HIs feet for the blessing he has for us.