In scripture, we’re told that Jacob wrestled with his brother from the womb, and that he was born holding onto his brother’s heel. His parents rightfully named him “Jacob,” meaning “heel catcher” or “supplanter.”
Later, Jacob even wrestled with God, but this time he lost. Yet afterwards, God blessed him by changing his name to “Israel,” which means “God prevails.” This name change was an identity change for Jacob.
Jacob lived most of his life under the reputation and character of “Jacob,” the heel catcher. He encountered many trials, often resulting from his own conniving ways. Jacob’s own words to Pharaoh were that his 130 years of life had been “few and evil.” Yet at the end of his life, when he calls his sons to hear his final words, he says in Genesis 49:2: “Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob, and listen to Israel your father.” In referring to himself as Israel, he acknowledges the new identity God has given him. He is no longer the man he was but is now a new man who trusts in God, not his own strength.
God wants (and is able) to transform us, giving us a new nature that trusts Him to rule and reign. We most likely don’t see the full result of that transformation yet, but God is not done with us yet. As He does this work in us, may we boldly proclaim how God has prevailed in our lives. Like Jacob/Israel, may we learn to say, “God, come wrestle me and win!”
Pastor Dustin Linenberger