HANDOUT FOR SERMON: LEARNING WHERE YOU ARE & WHERE YOU NEED TO BE.
Genesis 32:22-32, Manchester, TN. February 19th, 2023.
Introduction: The Story of Jacob wrestling with God has always been a very strange event for me. I think why, what, how, who. I wonder what I should learn from this event. I think in addition to knowing this historical event of the Bible, there is something in this story that tells me something about myself and my faith in and with God.
1. JACOB WAS A FLAWED MAN YET HE WAS A BELIEVER.
God found favor in Jacob yet what do you remember about Jacob? He lied, deceived, tricked his own father. He cheated his brother, and he stole his brother’s birthright. However, would you say he was an enemy of God? In Genesis 31:3 & 41-42 God told Jacob: “return to the land and I will be with you.” Jacob was a man of God with major mistakes but needed time to work to become a better man. When the angels of God met him, Jacob said “This is God’s camp. ” God and one of His own children! We are like Jacob, flawed, not perfect yet a believer and God may choose to wrestle with me. If He does it is because I need it and it is for my good.
2.JACOB FOUND HIMSELF IN AN DIFFICULT & UNCERTAIN SITUATION. Genesis 32:3-8
God chose to wrestle with Jacob when he was in a tough place in life. A bad place and a bad time. Doyou remember when Jacob left home and what Esau said when he left? Now God tells him to return
home! Jacob was anxious, nervous, uncertain, and weary. Esau comes with 400 men to meet Jacob.
What was Jacob’s response? What do you think was running through his mind? Jacobs leans on the
promises of God (which He stated when He told Jacob to return home.) Genesis 32:9-12 Jacob cries out
3.HOW DOES GOD ANSWER JACOB’S PRAYER, Genesis 32:22-32 I AM SURE Jacob did not see this
coming but God initiates an encounter with “God” for Jacob’s benefit. God initiated a wrestling match or
interaction with Jacob. Fortunately, God minimized His own power to wrestle with Jacob. We all know
mankind can never win in a wrestling match with God! God engaged Jacob in order to challenge him for
Jacob’s own good. Jacob wanted deliverance and peace yet got a challenge from God. Jacob needed to
learn about discipline, time, patience, and humility.
4.JACOB DOES NOT RUN BUT HOLDS ON UNTIL HE WAS BLESSED, Genesis 32:24-29 The angel
reached out and touched the hip socket of Jacob. What did Jacob say to the angel? “I will not let you
go!” We, like Jacob must NOT let go of God! Hosea 12:3-4 A reference to Jacob fighting the angel, we
see that Jacob wept and pleaded for a blessing! Jacob knew this was good for him so he would not let
the angel go. From this encounter Jacob is learning humility, he lost the fight but would not let go so
God blessed him!
5.GOD BRINGS JACOB A MOMENT OF GRACE AND CHANGE. God allows Jacob to sort of win, and
we know the grace of God allowed Jacob to “win.” God doesn’t interact with His children to crush or
destroy them. It was an act of grace that allowed Jacob to win in his interaction with God. (Illustration:
Fathers & sons arm wrestling.) God was longing for and looking for change in Jacob because he was a
child of God! God sees that Jacob changed and therefore his name is changed by God. Gen. 32:29-31
6. JACOB ENDS UP PHYSICALLY WEAKER YET SPIRITUALLY STRONGER. What was God doing in this
story? Did God leave Jacob “broken?” Jacob left limping on his thigh. a result of the interaction. So often
we focus on the physical but maybe we should be focusing more on the spiritual. What you need is more
faith, more forgiveness, patience, protection, understanding and a greater trust that God is truly with
you. How many of us want MORE FAITH without the “wrestling match?”
APPLICATION: WHAT DOES THIS STORY MEAN TO/FOR ME? JAMES 1
GOD SEEKS TO CHALLENGE HIS CHILDREN AND TO ENGAGE THEM.
This doesn’t mean God is angry with you. He is just working on you, in you and through you. So,
“How does God this?”
Maybe God is working on you through the scripture you may read. Maybe God is working on
your faith as it is growing bigger and faster than you feel comfortable with. Maybe at times it
feels like you are about to break into pieces. Maybe you feel like you are broken into pieces and
you need to be put together again. Maybe it is people or even a sister/brother in Christ, that
God has put in your life, because He knows this is exactly what we need.
GOD WILL ENGAGE YOU IN TIMES OF ANXIETY AND FEAR. James 1:2-12
Often these things happen when you least want them. Times when you are most anxious,
uncertain, and fearful. Read: Philippians 4:4-9. We often want God to make things easy for us.
God says, “I will bring you to a place of peace, but FIRST I will pull you, push you, wrestle with
you before I give you the peace. Trials that go on longer than we want them. Psalm 94:2 “The
Lord has become my stronghold and my God the rock of my refuge.”
GOD REWARDS THOSE WHO WILL NOT LET GO NO MATTER WHAT.
Hebrews 6:9-12 Sometimes God holds me and softly embraces me, sometimes God is holding
my hand, leading me and I am not letting go. Then sometimes God has a heavy hand on me.
Whatever God is doing he is doing exactly what I need. Hebrews chapter 5-6 we read where
God sort of fusses at His people and points out areas they need to become more active.
GOD MAY SEND YOU AWAY WEAKER IN THE FLESH BUT STRONGER IN FAITH.
2 Corinthians 12:7 We often go to God and ask Him to please make us physically stronger. Paul
understood he needed his “thorn” in the flesh, but he still asked God three times to remove it.
God responded to Paul and said His power is perfected in Paul’s weakness. In our story of
Jacob, he went away limping. He was most likely limping when he met his brother, Esau. He was
physically weak but spiritually stronger ready to face his brother. Jacob fell on his knee in front
of Esau. We need to pray for a “crushed spirit!” “Dislocate” whatever you need so God can help
us get to a place where you know it is not about you, but about God. We must strive to live and
trust in God, lean on God and boast in God.