Weird is the New Normal: A Lenten Walk Through 40 Questions in Genesis - Day Twenty-Seven

Weird is the New Normal:  A Lenten Walk Through 40 Questions in Genesis
 
Weird – “of strange or extraordinary character.”
Normal – “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern”
  • Merriam Webster
Day Twenty-Seven – “What is your name?” – God (or an angel) (Gen. 32: 27)
Jacob finally came to terms with his father-in-law, Laban. They made a covenant, setting up stones into a pillar. Laban said, “this heap is a witness between you and me today…may the Lord watch between you and me when we are away from each other.” The place was called in the Hebrew, “Mizpah” which means “watchtower.” I’ve actually seen jewelry made from this saying, with one half of a medallion on a necklace being worn by one person, and the other half being worn by their significant other.  Awww…how sweet! Too bad it totally misses the point that Laban and Jacob were promising not to cross this watchtower to harm each other.
So, Jacob and his wives and children and servants and livestock are not on the move back to Canaan land. Everything is great, right?  Except that Jacob still is going to have to face his brother, Esau.  When Jacob left home, Esau was hell bent on killing Jacob!
Jacob had scouts that were traveling out in front of their group, and a messenger came back and told Jacob, “Your brother, Esau, is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” (Gen. 32: 6) Yikes! What was Jacob going to do?  He did several things:
  • He divided his family and flocks and servants into two groups, thinking if one group got attacked, the other could maybe escape.
  • He PRAYED! He humbled himself and prayed…asked God to save him…reminded God of God’s covenant promise he had made to Jacob. (Gen. 32: 9-12)
  • He sent three waves of gifts ahead (goats, lambs, cows, donkeys, etc…), thinking that each round of gifts would soften up Esau’s heart toward him.
  • Then he went off by himself,  and spent the night…just turning to God.  He actually wrestled with God.
Now, there is some question as to whether Jacob wrestled with God or an angel.  I don’t want to split hairs over that. I think the important thing here is that Jacob wrestled, and he wrestled all night.  He stubbornly refused to let go until he had his blessing. Even after his hip was wrenched out of socket, Jacob wouldn’t let go. God (or the angel) said, “What is your name?”  “My name is Jacob?” came the reply.  Jacob, the heel grabber…Jacob the deceiver.  Then God said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” (Gen. 32: 28)
Why did God (or the angel) ask Jacob for his name?  Because God wanted to change Jacob’s name.  God did the same to Abraham, to Sarah…and Peter.  The struggle changes a person.
Reflection:  Have you ever wrestled with God?  With yourself?
Action: Do some research into your name.  What does your name mean?

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