Photo by Angel Balashev
And He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”Genesis 32:28
This was a word given to Jacob by God when he had wrestled with an angel all night. Jacob’s story is littered with difficulties, but it is also a story of a man who had great favor with God. From the womb Jacob was called blessed, he was so blessed that God said, he will be greater than Esau his brother, and his brother will serve him. Genesis 25:23
However, as we look at Jacob’s life, things didn’t always go according to plan. The things that were meant to come to him only seemed to come with much struggle and wrestling.
I know so many of us can relate. We have received the promises, the prophetic words, the dream but we often find ourselves living in circumstances that don’t look like the promises of God over our lives. We also have had to fight our way into some blessings. Sometimes, we can get weary because we believe it should be easier because God is in it.
Things we can learn from Jacob’s life:
People are just an instrument of the enemy.
Even though Jacob had the blessing of God over his life, he didn’t have his father’s blessing or affection. His father played favorites and this meant that Jacob was on the other end of his father’s affection. This was important because, in this culture, a father’s blessing was as huge as God’s blessing on a man. This meant that his father was going to give him a meager blessing and give the best to his firstborn son, Esau. We are told, Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating the wild game Esau brought home, but Rebecca loved Jacob. Genesis 25:28
Because of this, Jacob had to struggle and finagle his way into the blessing that was meant to be his because his father wanted to give it to Esau. So he and his mother tricked Isaac and Jacob did it so well that his father gave him the blessing thinking he was Esau. Genesis 27
Jacob had to get around his father’s favoritism to get to his blessing. Find your way around what’s blocking your blessing in God.
God allows the struggle for a purpose.
After stealing his brother’s inheritance, Jacob was on the run because his brother wanted to kill him. He ends up at Laban’s (his mother’s brother) house. Laban was a master trickster, and even though Jacob was a trickster (as is the meaning of his name), in Laban he had met his match. Laban was often one step ahead of Jacob.
When Jacob saw Laban’s daughter Rachel he fell in love with her and made a commitment to work for Laban for 7 years as dowry payment for Rachel. But when 7 years were done, on the wedding night, Laban got Jacob so hammered that he didn’t know the bride he had received wasn’t the one he had worked 7 hard years for! Laban had outwitted him, and the trickster wasn’t happy! Genesis 29
But in the midst of all this struggle, God was at work in Jacob. God was slowly chiseling away his cheating and trickster ways because Jacob needed to look like the God he was in covenant with. This is why he gets a new name, in the 20 years he has been at Laban’s with all the struggle and difficulties, Jacob had become a different man. He became Israel, a prince with God (Hebrew meaning of Israel). He was no longer a trickster and a cheat. He also had learnt to prevail over every circumstance that was thrown at him. He learnt to prevail over men and obstacles. He could now reign in life because God was in him, and with him.
Sometimes we can be so mad at what people have done to us; what people have taken from us. We can be so disappointed at the unfair things God has allowed in our lives. Not knowing, God allowed them because He saw who we would become because of the struggle.
God will mark and distinguish our blessings to protect them.
Getting the wrong woman on his wedding night wasn’t the only thing that Jacob experienced. Laban was also tricking Jacob out of his hard-earned wages. These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. Genesis 31:41
Ten times! Laban had shortchanged Jacob. Yet, even though Laban was a master trickster, Jacob had something that was bigger than Laban. God was fighting for him.
God gave Jacob a strategy to win because he saw what Laban was doing to him. And he said, Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flocks are streaked, speckled, or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. Genesis 31:12
Laban could no longer steal Jacob’s blessings because God had marked and distinguished them. God will mark and distinguish our blessings that there is no way people can interfere or claim them for themselves.
At some point in our lives, we will come against hindrances that are bigger than our wit. We will face a bigger enemy than we can handle. Jacob needed God’s help to outwit Laban and to be able to get his blessings. It isn’t because we are so smart, or because we are so skilled that we win the battles, it’s because of who is with and for us.
When you have God fighting for you, the whole world can be against you and you will still win.
God will fully restore.
In our season of struggle, and feeling like we are fighting losing battles, it’s hard to see how some things we’ve lost can be restored. But God is able to restore everything the enemy has stolen and repay us for the trouble we have endured. Jacob received everything that Laban had cheated him out of and more. In fact, by the time he is leaving Laban’s house, it’s like he had impoverished him. Genesis 31:7-9 There is a promise of restoration. It doesn’t matter what has been stolen. It doesn’t matter who has stolen, or how long it has been stolen, God will make sure we get back our inheritance in full.
So remember there is favor in the struggle because God is with you and is working out all things for your good. Just like He was with Jacob.