“Jacob Called Israel”

Sunday school with Pastor Theodis Acklin

Scriptural text: Romans 11:25-32

Lesson Context: The lesson today involves Isaac’s son, Jacob, whose name in Latin means “supplanter” or “trickster.”  Jacob lived in a dysfunctional home. At the birth of the twins , Jacob and Esau, Jacob held on to his brother, Esau’s heel. Jacob’s struggle with his brother, Esau, began at birth. Jacob was his mother, Rebekah’s favorite. Esau was a hunter like his father, Jacob. Esau was the eldest of the two. In Eastern tradition, the eldest son inherited the father’s birthright. The conflict became more intense between Esau and Jacob when Jacob schemed to inherit his brother’s birthright. Rebekah devised a diabolical plot (a meal preparation) for Jacob to inherit his brother’s birthright. Jacob tricked his father into giving him the blessing set aside for firstborn Esau (27:6-36). Jacob’s scheming destroyed his relationship with Esau; Esau “hated” and was threatened by his brother (27:41). In response, Jacob fled to the household of his uncle Laban (28:5, Rebekah’s brother).

Jacob worked seven years for his uncle to gain the hand of Laban’s daughter, Rachel, in marriage (Gen. 29:18). However, Laban required that Jacob marry Leah, requiring Jacob to work seven additional years for Rachel (29:26-27). Jacob flourished during his time in Laban’s land, but the relationship between the two men became sour. Jacob and his wives took all that they owned and left Laban’s household in secret (31:6-7). Later, Laban confronted Jacob and the two agreed to a covenant (31:44). The lesson today deals with Jacob’s preparation to meet his brother. Jacob feared Esau.

The Struggle (Gen. 32:22-25):

Jacob’s Situation.
The context heredemands that we remember who these people picture. There are two wives-Rachel and Leah. Leah pictures the law. Rachel pictures grace. The two female servants are Bilhah and Zilpah who picture the two exiles of the people of Israel. The children picture the people of Israel as a collective whole. Jacob is taking all of them in the night and preparing them for what lay ahead by having them cross over the ford of the river Jabbok. Jabbok means “pouring out.” Jabbok is named here because it shows what will come to this group of people. And it will be like the name Israel, a double entendre. There will be a pouring out of God’s favor upon them-love, grace, mercy and the like-even the Holy Spirit. But, there will also be a pouring out of God’s wrath upon them. The Hebrew here says he caused them to pass over. In other words, he is sending his family across the Jabbok while he will remain on this side alone. He is preparing himself for what may be the greatest struggle of his and he will do it in a way which will allow him to seek God’s face uninterrupted by others.

Alone on the north bank of the river, a Man is suddenly introduced into the story without introduction of the Man. Jacob is going to be given a new experience, one which will prefigure the nation that comes from him-Israel.

In wrestling with this Man, Jacob will learn what it means to be reliant and dependant on God in a new way. This struggle with Jacob is reflected in Israel’s struggle with God, and it also reflects our struggle with Him also.

The Lord also brings a charge against Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways: According to his deeds He will recompense him. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and in his strength he struggled with God. Yes, he struggled with the Angel and  prevailed. He wept, and sought favor from Him.

Verse 25.  ” 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.”  The Man-Jehovah, the Lord-seeing he can’t prevail over Jacob, uses His knowledge of the human form, which He created, to complete His spiritual of Jacob through a physical reality. He touches him right at the socket of his hip in order to reduce him to a state of complete dependence.

The Debate (Gen. 32:26-29): 

Dual Demands (v. 26).
“And He said, “Let me go, for the day breaks.” Jacob wrestled with the Man who created him and he overpowered Him. Now this Man pleads to leave. This is no doubt the picture of the true Israel, Jesus, who went to the grave but received His leave from it as the day broke.

And He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” By asking his name, it is an indication that He is granting the request. He already knows the name, but it establishes the basis for his blessing. Jacob gives his name,-the only one he has ever had- Ya’akov, or heel grabber. His name has reflected his life, and now his life will take a new direction.

And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel: for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” The change in name reflects the change in character. The actual name of Israel isn’t easy to define. Some say Prince of God, some God Persists or God Preserves, and some, “He struggled with God and men.”

References: Enduring Word Bible Commentary, KJV Standard Lesson Commentary