Are You the Next Unlikely Hero?
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Genesis 32:28
Of all the women and men of the Bible, Jacob can seem like a strange person for God to associate Himself with. “The God of Jacob” is a frequent title used for the God of the Bible, and Jacob is referenced 22 times in scripture.
Jacob was Abraham’s grandson, born as a twin to his brother Esau. The birth of these children was an answer to the fervent prayers of their mother Rebekah. And yet the brothers were cruel to one another. From birth, Jacob was labeled a trickster and heel catcher because he grabbed his brother’s heel as Esau left the womb. The twins’ tousling must have felt so strange inside Rebekah!
Being clever is fine, except when it’s used for evil. When Jacob was older, he deceived his brother and father and stole the rights to the family inheritance. This caused a great rift in the family that was not healed for many years. When Jacob was on his way to attempt peacemaking with his brother as an adult, God sent an angel that wrestled with Jacob. The story is an appropriate scene in the life of a heel-catching trickster. In the end, God renamed Jacob as “Israel” as a sign of having overcome his struggles with God and humans.
Throughout scripture the title “God of Jacob” reminds us that our own struggles, and even our flaws or sins, do not cut us off from the life-changing love of God. God loves, chooses, refines and uses imperfect people like you and me!
Resource reading: Genesis 32:1-32