Highlights:

An exciting climax to the personal problems and struggles Jacob has encountered in his life and thus far overcome. Jacob fearful of Esau, who vowed to kill him, prayed all night.

I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred (Gen. 31:13).

God reminded Jacob of his earlier experience at the same hallowed place where he had received confidence that God would protect and direct him. Jacob had mixed emotions and fears concerning this call. His life had been filled with many disappointments and struggles. Now he was commanded to obey God and return to his native land where he knew that he must face his brother Esau, who did not fear God and who had angrily vowed to kill him.

Jacob had just escaped from the hatred of Laban and his sons. He was returning to his homeland when the messengers reached him, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him. Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed (32:6-7). Twenty years earlier, Esau had said: The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob (27:41). Therefore, Jacob apparently faced certain death unless God miraculously intervened.

This was a victorious event in Jacob's life. He recognized his helplessness and was led to rely on the power and the mercy of God for deliverance. Thus he came to a new realization of the true source of his strength. Jacob prayed based on God and His word and His faithfulness in His past actions (32:9-12).

In desperation, Jacob wrestled an angel all night in prayer. An inner transformation of spirit resulted from this night of prayer. God said: 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 (32:28). Throughout the balance of Scriptures, whenever the name “Israel” is used, it is making reference to the spiritual man whom God richly blessed. Even to this day, the Jews are called by his spiritual name. But the Lord said unto him (Ananias), Go thy way: for he (Saul) is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15).

Christians do not always reflect inner transformation in their outward behavior, but those who love Christ should always pray, as Jacob did, to have their inner spirit expressed in godly behavior. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Romans 8:13-14).

Thought for Today:

Sometimes the strength of our flesh requires extraordinary measures in order to crucify it (Gal. 5:24).

Christ Revealed:

As the Angel (Messenger) of God who guides (Gen. 31:11-13). The Angel speaks not merely in the Name of God but as God, leaving no doubt that He is the Lord Jesus in His preincarnate state. I and My Father are One (John 10:30).

Word Studies:

31:1 glory, wealth; 31:19 images, family idols; 31:30 sore longedst after, greatly longed to return home; 31:36 chode, argued; 32:2 host, army encampment; 32:16 drove, herd; 32:25 hollow, hip socket; 32:28 hast prevailed, have overcame; 32:31 halted, limped; 33:2 hindermost, last; 33:14 softly, slowly; 33:17 booths, temporary shelters (tabernacles) (Lev. 23:42-43).

Prayer Needs:

Pray for International Broadcasts sponsored by Carl Miller • Staff: Rick Hash • Government Official: Rep. Michael R. Turner (OH) • Country: Monaco (32,000) in southeastern France • Major languages: French and English • No open evangelism permitted • 90% Roman Catholic; 7% Protestant; 1% Eastern Orthodox • Prayer Suggestion: Pray in faith and the Lord will answer (Mark 11:24).

Optional Reading: Matthew 11

Memory Verse for the Week: Psalms 100:1-2