Reformed interpretations of the meaning behind Genesis 32:22, Jacob wrestles God

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by No Longer A Libertine, Jan 15, 2008.

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  1. No Longer A Libertine

    No Longer A Libertine Puritan Board Senior

    Not to make a bad pun but I've always wrestled to understand why the devil God did this, perhaps I haven't placed it in proper context but my mind has always been confounded by God in human form pre-Christ being beaten in a wrestling match by Jacob and then playing dumb about knowing his name before He proclaims him Israel.

    Help me out, not getting it.
  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

  3. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

  4. MrMerlin777

    MrMerlin777 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Just my :2cents:

    I find 2 things about the altercation interesting.

    1. That the altercation was initiated by God.

    2. God wounds Jacob and it seems to me that Jacob is basically holding on for dear life. He can no longer trust in his own strength but is basically at the mercy of the one he wrestles with.

    I heard it put this way once. Jacob in the altercation won't let go until he is blessed but essentially what he is saying is, "I will not let you go until I get what YOU want for me."

    Again just my take. I'm probably way off but then I'm just a lab tech and not a theologian.
  5. Barnpreacher

    Barnpreacher Puritan Board Junior

    I used to struggle with this passage as well, but Tim Keller really helped me understand it. I believe the fact that God was voluntarily allowing Jacob to prevail for a while is a beautiful story.

    He didn't come to destroy Jacob, but rather He came to bring him mercy. If God would have wanted to He would have taken care of Jacob with no problem. We see that in the fact that all He had to do was touch Jacob and He caused him to limp for the rest of his life. So it wasn't as if God couldn't have won the match (or destroyed Jacob with a single word for that matter). We've seen Him do those things in the past. But the whole picture is that God was coming to Jacob on this night to show him that He was His God in a personal way. He wasn't just the God of his father and the God of his grandfather, but rather He was his God. This becomes evident when Jacob is blessing his sons in Genesis 49:24-25. I believe Jacob met God alone and personally this night and was "converted".

    So in essence, God was voluntarily allowing Jacob to prevail so that He could show him mercy and not destroy him. But there was a day when God did not allow Jacob to prevail. There was a day when God did not voluntarily hold back His power on Jacob. There was a day when God did pour out His wrath upon Jacob. That day was at Calvary when Jesus Christ stood in Jacobs' place as his representative and substitutionary atonement.
  6. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    It's no mere conincidence that Jacob means "usurper." He's what we are.

    I think there's a hint at taking the kingdom by violence, here, too, which I used to be very puzzled at.

    When we come to conviction of sin and need of grace, it is appropriate that we should fight with everything we have to get it, sell all we own, etc., all the while knowing that we cannot, in ourselves, do a thing to bring it about.
  7. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    From William McEwen's Grace and Truth:

  8. MrMerlin777

    MrMerlin777 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Wonderful Rev. Winzer.
  9. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Octavius Winslow, Evening Thoughts (May 17):

  10. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Travis, just as an aside, asking for the 'Reformed interpretation', makes it sound as if there are other viable options, which there may be, so id rather hear the biblical explination myself.

    Fr instance, can I ask for the Arminian interpretation of this text? Capeesh?:lol:
  11. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I have recently been convinced of a connection with this passage and that of Paul 'apprehending' Christ in Phi 3. There Paul teaches that our faith is like an athletic competition where we strive to 'win Christ'. Just as with Jacob, it is not the outcome of the struggle that is important, but the struggle itself. As we press toward the goal of the resurrection of the dead we too should wrestle with God and cry out, "I won't let you go until you bless me!"

    Just as it was God Who came to Jacob, allowing him enough success to keep him in the competition, Paul acknowledges, "but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." Our faith should be like a race toward the goal of eternal life, never giving up until we reach that goal. Of course, the end result is never in doubt.

    I liken it to the wrestling matches I have with my boys. I let them have success to keep the match going but I could easily 'put their hips out of joint' if and when I wanted to. But it is not the victory itself, it is the fact that they desire victory that is important to me.

    Go wants us to desire Christ with the heart of a competitor!
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