The Bible tells the story of Jacob, and how he wrestled with an angel of God throughout the night.
“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” Gen. 32:25
Jacob had been running from the Lord all these years, but here he comes face to face with God, and he has to make a decision: he can continue running, or he can allow God to touch his life and change him.
I believe something must have made Jacob to stop and make the decision he made that night. Jacob was tired of running, all right. But more than that, something profound happened to him that night. I believe that deep down in his spirit Jacob received a new understanding from the Lord; a new revelation. He must have seen something that made him want to receive a new blessing from God.
In the materialistic age we live one might well wonder why Jacob, who was so rich materially, would want another blessing from the Lord…!
But, perhaps, it was a different blessing that he now desired, born out of this new understanding that he had from God. A blessing not of material things, but a blessing, probably, of character, a spiritual blessing. Suddenly, most likely, Jacob saw in his spirit far into the future, and the blessing that Jesus would bring into the world through His death on the Cross. And, all of a sudden, Jacob”s priorities were turned upside down. Now it was not Rachel or Joseph who mattered most to him. Nor was it his vast wealth. Now he wanted to get hold of that far, far away blessing – distant indeed, but exceedingly rich. It did not matter to him that he would die long before that blessing would materialize. Somehow, he knew, he would inherit it one day, and it was worth waiting for. It was an eternal treasure – and immeasurably, incomparably bright and clear and true.
It was a spiritual blessing that Jacob saw, and he wanted it infinitely more than all his earthly possessions.
And he was willing to pay the price that he realized he needed to pay in the spirit. I am sure that at that particular time he did not see anything good in the flesh. He did not see cars or houses or the good things that we have today. Rather, I believe he saw the sufferings of Christ. And he was ready to identify with them. He was willing to pay the ultimate price – he told the angel, “Name your price, but I am not letting you go till you bless me!” He wanted that vision more than anything else in his life.
What God did in order to change Jacob’s character was to dislocate his thigh – probably so he would not have the strength to run again.
The true gospel of Jesus Christ puts us ‘out of joint’. It breaks our strength. It breaks our pride. We grovel and scramble on our knees to get at that spiritual treasure, for only that brokenness can bring the reality of that treasure into our lives. All our pride, our reliance is gone. After Jacob’s thigh was put ‘out of joint’ he had no more pride left in him. Probably he had a certain way of walking before, but he would no longer walk that way. Henceforth he would walk with a limp, for the Bible says his sinew “shrank”.
In the new covenant we are no longer going to wrestle with an angel, but through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross we understand how we, too, will need to identify our lives with His suffering and death in order to partake of that same blessing that Jacob partook of. That treasure is the life of Christ in us.
The Apostle Paul, more than any other man, received that revelation – and also knew that brokenness in his flesh. I believe he also, just like Jacob, wanted to do some running. He says that he prayed three times to God to remove the thorn in his flesh. But God told him, “My grace is sufficient, for my strength is perfected in your weakness.”
If Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord the whole night; and if Paul prayed three times for God to intervene on his behalf, then we can be sure that it is not an easy journey to becoming spiritual men and women. But this is the road we have been called to take, and we must gladly persevere in it.
Paul says: “Most gladly therefore will I glory in infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Cor. 12:9
That is not an easy road to take, by any standards. But the reward is priceless. In fact, to put a better perspective to it, the reward is not something that can be explained in human terms; it is too profoundly rich for that. It can only be understood in our spirits.
It all depends, however, on whether we have seen that priceless pearl in our spirit, and are willing to pay the price. The price, as we said, is dying with Christ.
What a challenge to us today, that Jacob, so far down the line in time, could see the very thing that we live with, walk with and sleep with today… What is that thing? Oh! I bet you and I hardly know it well enough… if we knew it we would not be the men and women we are today…
May the Lord reveal it to us like He revealed it to Jacob!