Jacob at Penuel

Scripture: Genesis 32:24-31

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This is one of the most instructive passages on the matter of prayer.

  • Here we see a man in a very domestic situation. He is almost frantic with a fearful anticipation of the revenge of his brother, Esau.
  • He had prayed, Verses 9-12, a very wise and good prayer.
  • He had taken a number of steps to seek to placate Esau. Verses 13-20.
  • For all that, Jacob was still very uneasy and anxious.

I. A bold encounter with the Lord.

It was the “Lord God” he met, verse 30.
The word ‘wrestled’ means ‘to get dusty’! This was a real grappling between two men seeking to overthrow one another.
Jacob lays hold in order to wrestle an answer and the Lord lays hold in order to overcome Jacob.

1. That is what prayer is. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water,” Hebrews 10:19-22.
2. We can pray with boldness, that is commandingly. “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him,” Ephesians 3:12.  Because:

a. Our sins are forgiven. “by the blood of Jesus”.
b. A ‘way’ dedicated for us alone. “He hath consecrated for us.” It is as if God has given us a key to His door!
c. We have our own High Priest. “An high priest over the house of God.” He offers for us our sacrifices of praise and prayer up to God. He presents all our offerings, perfumed with the incense of his own merits, before the throne of God.

II. It was a time of desperation for Jacob.

Verses 22-24.
1. Desperation causes us to act boldly, resolutely. Abraham, Genesis 18:23-32. Note verses 27, 30, 31, 32. Here is boldness born of desperation! Likewise the unnamed woman of Canaan, Matt 15:22-28. This woman showed boldness, verses 23, 27.
2. So it was Christ prayed. This is wrestling with God! “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground,” Luke 22:44.
3. So it is the Holy Spirt helps us to pray. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered,” Romans 8:26. (Acts 7:34.) Expressing unutterable words in prayer.

III. The Lord engaged in this wrestling.

“ . . . . . and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” Genesis 32:24.
1. The wrestling is accredited to the Lord! True prayer begins with God. “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples,” Luke 11:1. “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced,” Zechariah 12:10. “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father,” Gals 4:6.
2. The victory the Lord gained. “And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him,” Genesis 32:25. Jacob was strengthened by his defeat!
“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted,” Matthew 23:12.
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time,” 1 Peter 5:6.
3. Here is a wounding unto health and strength! “He touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint.”
He had a new walk. “And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh,” verse 31.
This what we heard about yesterday morning.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” Galatians 2:20.
Jacob was given a new name from that day. “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed,” Genesis 32:28.

Young people, here is the secret, the key of the victorious kingly life.