- Explore the Bible lesson for Jan. 6 focuses on Genesis 32:24-32.
Young children have a remarkable way of correcting their behavior when they are caught doing wrong. One morning during free play, the teacher noticed one of the students hiding a toy car in his backpack. During the course of the day, she contemplated how to address the issue before the day’s end. The opportunity came during circle time before dismissal. The teacher explained the importance of learning centers and how students should be responsible to place all toys in the containers at the end of center time.
The young boy became aware of his wrongdoing and tried to justify removing the toy. After rethinking his behavior and feeling convicted, he left the circle, removed the toy from his backpack, and placed it in the container. Other than the teacher, no one else noticed the boy’s movement. Afterwards, she privately spoke to him about his behavior and commended him for his decision to do the right thing.
Jacob was in the habit of practicing trickery until he became a changed person. Jacob remembered how he deceived his father and stole Esau’s birthright. Now, the time had come to meet with Esau face-to-face. Through a series of unfortunate events, God prepared Jacob’s heart for a spiritual transformation. The encounter of the angels at the camp, Mahanaim, encouraged Jacob to continue on the journey the promised blessing (Genesis 32:1).
The Match (Genesis 32:24-26)
Before meeting with Esau, Jacob made the strategic decision to break up and separate the camp by sending his wives, maids, children, along with his possessions to cross Jabbok. However, while he was returning to meet them, he met a man who would not let him travel to the other side. We know the man was an angel (v. 24). Jacob emphasizes the encounter, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared” (Genesis 32:30).
Seemingly, this was an all-night wrestling match. Jacob held on and fought for his blessing with all the strength he could muster. As daybreak came, the angel requested to be “let go” (v. 26). At this point, it did not matter how long or how intense the battle nor the injury of the hip. Jacob was determined to battle it out and receive God’s promised blessing.
Again, this was not the same Jacob. Morally and spiritually, Jacob was transformed. The Apostle Paul, who experienced a radical transformation, wrote: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world. But be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). In the same way, believers are responsible to mature in the faith. Above all else, God promises to transform us as we value and seek his blessings.
Take this time to share how God has blessed you and others this year. What life changes can you connect to some of the blessings? Note: Blessings are not only material, but also spiritual.
The Title (Genesis 32:27-29)
When God changes a name, he is getting ready to carry out his will. Abram (Noble Father) became Abraham (Father of many) and Sarai (Princess) became Sarah (Mother of Nations) because God made it possible for them to have a promised son in their old age, regardless of their unbelief (Genesis 17:5, 15-16). Jacob’s name (one who supplants or grabs the heel of) changed to Israel (God struggles) because God was instrumental in transforming his moral and spiritual character.
Believers are transformed by the power of God as they submit to his will. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Believers cannot perform the inner works of transformation because it is beyond their control. Only by God’s grace are we partakers of the blessings promised to us.
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The Venue (Genesis 32:30-32)
The naming of the site “Peniel” by Jacob means face-to-face. Jacob’s face-to-face encounter with God was real. Peniel is a reminder to Jacob of the painful struggle of believing God’s promised blessing. Remember, Jacob’s struggle did not begin at Peniel, but began while wrestling with his twin, Esau, in his mother’s womb (Genesis 25:26). Jacob understood his grandfather’s faith as well as his father’s faith. However, it was not until he had a personal encounter with God that he understood what faith was really meant. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance in what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
There are times believers will experience various struggles beyond their control. Financial struggle, sickness, divorce, loss of jobs, or problems with children may diminish your faith in God. In these times of struggle, remember that God promises to bless and protect his children because of their faith in him.
Are there any markers in your spiritual life you can point to as reminders of your walk with the Lord?
Margie Clayton is minister of education at Berean Tabernacle Baptist Church in Liberty.