Wednesday, July 29, 2009


“Let me go!” the man spoke firmly, even when he was held tightly by Jacob. “I won’t. I won’t let you go until you blessed me!” Jacob hung on. This would be the fight of his life, knowing very well that his opponent was some sort of a God-sent man from heaven.

Jacob had lived a colourful life, a chameleonic character that is. It had consumed a great toll on him. Even in his tender young age, he was fighting for prominence, egged on by his mother, Rebekah. His brother Esau was an easy victim of his cheats. He had to carry this "cheater" title for a long time (Jacob means cheater). When he tricked Esau of his inherited birthright, he left hurriedly to a world where he eventually met his match. Laban, his uncle, was waiting, to show him what was like to be cheated instead.

But even before he met Laban, God already unleashed the first zap into his soul. That dream in Bethel while travelling was a wake-up call that he was no ordinary man. Jacob, the cheater, was the carrier of the promise for the world, passed on from Abraham to Isaac and to him. As he journeyed on in his life, God had broken him again and again, until he finally succumbed to a true life that the Almighty intended him to have. A changed life with a new identity and a new purpose.

When he left Laban after many years, God had blessed him with a large family, including many livestocks and servants. When Jacob looked at all his blessings when they stood to rest, tears rolled down his dusty cheeks. That dream of God in Bethel he had was no fluke, so was the promise he inherited from his father, Isaac. His faith strengthened. He looked up to the sky and uttered, “God, thank you!”

He knew he had one more thing to settle, Esau. He fervently sought forgiveness from his brother but most of all, God’s forgiveness. Jacob. the cheater must repent and must repent totally!

When he was alone, he crossed path with a strange man and in his heart, he had the same kind of zapping feeling oozing from within him when he got that first dream. He knew God had come to finalise what he had begun. This time he wouldn’t want to let opportunity slip at all cost. Jacob leapt onto the man with such force that the man stumbled a little but firmly kept his ground.

Sensing Jacob’s determination to hang on, the man touched his hip and dislocated it. A sharp pain gripped Jacob’s body but did not deter his heart. Although weakened by the dislocation, he intended to hold on till the end. Finally the man asked, “What is your name?” “Jacob!” he declared his shame of the name without missing a beat. That name needed to be changed. That name needed a new wineskin to contain a new radical thing God was doing in him.

“Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel!” the man shouted! There and then, Jacob overcame the bad label of his name! Jacob was a son of earthly things and earthly prominence. From Jacob to Israel, a nation belonging to God would be born. A nation that would carry the promise of a Messiah for the world! Israel was forever to be known as a “struggle with God” but more importantly, a victorious overcomer! Yes, Israel still lived in an imperfect world, but with God's help, it would ultimately be the nation filled with the glory of God!

Jacob walked away from the fight satisfied! He managed a smile even though he was in pain. From now on, he would walk with a limp. This dislocated hip would always remind him that this Jacob had died and that Israel was born.

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