After strategizing and sending gifts to his brother, Jacob is left alone. During the night he wrestles with God and is forever changed.
This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
“What is your name?” the man asked.
He replied, “Jacob.”
“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
“Please tell me your name,” Jacob said.
“Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.
Jacob was alone—no family, friends, workers, or even animals—alone with his thoughts and fears. Imagine what he must have felt as he lay on the ground, looking at the stars. But often the best time to meet God is when we are alone and at the end of our resources.
Jacob had spent most of his life wrestling with people, but now he was wrestling with God. Jacob continued this wrestling match all night just to be blessed. He was persistent. God encourages persistence in all areas of our lives, including the spiritual. Strong character develops as you struggle through tough conditions. Where in your spiritual life do you need more persistence?
Eventually God overcame Jacob by weakening him. Then God blessed Jacob by giving him a new name: Israel—from the Hebrew word that means “to struggle.” Various translations of Jacob’s new name include “one who struggles with God,” “let God rule,” and “a God-mastered man.” In any case, Israel is a changed man.
God gave many people in the Bible new names (Abraham, Sarah, Peter). Their new names symbolized how God had changed their lives. Here we see how Jacob’s character had changed. Jacob, the ambitious deceiver, became Israel, the one who struggles with God and overcomes.
If God changed your name to reflect the kind of person he’s making you into, what would that name be? “Loyal one”? “Courageous”? “Focused on God”? Ask him to help you change in that direction.