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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Wrestling with God!

In a comment regarding the post which preceded this one, Byker Bob made a statement that really caught my attention. He wrote: "I believe that you really have to look at the way in which people see themselves in terms of their relationship with God. That is what is important. David was a man after God's own heart because no matter how he failed and sinned, he didn't turn his back on God. He steadfastly kept praising Him, and he kept on praying to Him. He knew that like all of us, he was born to sin, but refused to allow that to separate him from God."

Immediately after reading that comment, I was reminded of a story in the book of Genesis. We are told there that Jacob wrestled with a strange man for the better part of one night. We read: "And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 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. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he 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." (Genesis 32:24-28)

In the story, Jacob holds on to God's representative and refuses to release him until the man promises to bless him. Is this story a metaphor about how all of us should approach our relationship with the Divine? Do the experiences of these two very imperfect men (Jacob and David) teach us to keep on keeping on with God until we prevail? In other words, while our understanding of God and our attempts to follow "His" will may be very flawed/imperfect at present, does God consider the effort/struggle to understand and follow "Him" worthwhile?

I believe that these examples are indicative of the very personal nature of our salvation through Jesus Christ. In a very real sense, each of us must wrestle with God and refuse to let go until we receive the blessing. Although Jacob and David had many personal weaknesses and failures, neither one of them ever stopped trying - they never turned their backs on God and walked away from "Him." And, of even greater interest to us, God never abandoned either one of them. Like the man who wrestled Jacob, God remained with them both until they obtained the blessing. The lesson: Perseverance is rewarded.

Paul told the Philippians to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Phil. 2:12) Maybe that is why Christ instructed us to focus on the beams in our own eyes rather than attempting to remove the speck from our bother's eye? (Matt. 7:1-5) Maybe we should all be focused on this important wrestling match in which we are currently engaged - this match that continues through the long night? What do you think?   


  1. One of the precepts that I recall being taught in the old Radio or Worldwide Church of God is that God is not pleased with partial obedience, and does not bless for it. That's really flawed, given the fallibility and imperfection of humans. And, you cited some of the best examples of exceptions. It seems that attitude has always been the primary factor in God's relationship with His children. God is a master motivator and psychologist, and when He is encouraged by signs of even partial obedience, I believe He encourages our attempts by blessing us. Like a loving father, He knows we are immature, and far from perfect, but He overlooks the imperfections that He designed into each of us, because He is more interested in what we are attempting to build.

    On the other hand, God tells us in Isaiah that He hates our new moons, festivals and sabbaths when we keep them in wrong attitudes. So, grudging full obedience is actually worse than partial, loving and enthusiastic obedience, with occasional human stumbles along the way. The royal law of love is the layer of law behind the law.


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  3. You are so right. The whole issue...the heart of the matter is God working and developing each of us individually. All the rest is playground nonsense by comparison. So much of what we get held back by are not salvational issues.