A Year In Questions #5

Jacob Wrestles with God by Delacroix

"What is your name?" the man asked.

A simple question ... but not for this man named Jacob.

Jacob has wrestled with God. All night, he has fought a battle that will leave a permanent mark ... Jacob will limp the rest of his life. And then: "What is your name?"

"Ya'kov," he answered. Jacob. A name which means "heel," and given to him, perhaps, because he came into the world holding on to the heel of his brother, Esau. The twin he would betray. Trick and deceive.

The same name--Ya'kov--is found, notably recorded by Thutmose III as Ya'qob'el, which means "God will protect." And so God would ... and did.

"What is your name?" the Man of God asked on that night by the shore of the Jabbok, repeating the same question Jacob had heard his father Isaac ask him so many years before ... and then he deceived his father by answering, "I am your son, Esau."

But now Jacob must be honest. He has no choice. He is not lying to a blind patriarch. He is answering the God who knows his every thought. His rising up and his lying down. After years of running ... and cunning ... and being conned ... and being blessed ... it's all come down to this one question: what is your name?

"Heel," Jacob answered.

"No more," the Man of God said. "Your name is now Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome."

"Israel ..." Yisra'el. Wrestled and struggled.

With God. With humans.

With. God.

"Tell me your name," this new man Israel said to the Man of God.

"Why do you ask my name?"

One gets the sense that "El" expected Israel to know. Who do you think you just struggled with, Israel? Didn't I tell you? Are you so far from me that you don't recognize me, even after I pop your hip out of its joint?

So Jacob called the place "Peni'el," because he saw God face to face and lived to tell about it.

Peni'el--The face of God.

Do you wrestle with God? Do you struggle with Him about anything at all right now?

Do you hear him asking, "What is your name?"

And how will you answer? Will you fall back on the lie ... or will you, like Jacob, realize you cannot lie to God.

What is your name?

(Story taken from Genesis 32.)

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