Jacob (ja’-kub) may be a confusing character in the bible for some of us. He was for me till I came to this realization. Jacob meaning cheat, sneak, twister, thief-supplanter was the second son of Isaac. When Isaac was very old, Jacob and his mother conspired to deceive the aged patriarch (Genesis 27) and transferred the birthright blessing to himself. While doing this Jacob lied twice claiming that he was Esau, and also deceptively answered Isaac that God allowed him to make the soup so fast, implying that he had actually killed wild game.
Yet the bible declares something astounding, God loved Jacob (Malachi 1:2-3). If you read the story of Jacob in the bible, we know that lying and stealing someone else’s birthright was not easy for him- he was on the run from his brother. This was the ‘wilderness’ where God really dealt with Jacob. God began first dealing with Jacob at Bethel, “the house of God,” (Gene 28) and continued twenty years later at Peniel, “the face of God”, where Jacob graduated from the school of wandering and despair. This is the part of Jacob’s story where we can all recognize our own struggles: we struggle with fear, darkness, loneliness, addictions, feeling of powerlessness, tiredness, etc. Here Jacob wrestled with a man (God) who touched his thigh, and asked him, “what is your name?” (Gen 32). I am sure Jacob thought about this for a moment and he may have hoarsely whispered, Jacob – con artist, a liar, and a selfish manipulator. For the first time in his life, Jacob called his name for what it means. Before a Holy God, he saw himself as he really should have been seen. And God responded to him, in effect, “Jacob, that is all I have been waiting for these 20 years, I have been waiting for the day where you will see yourself as you are, where you will call yourself by your own name. God said, I am giving you a new name, your salvation is here. You will be called Israel – Prince of God!!!
When was the last time we got on our knees and told God what we really know ourselves to be? When was the last time we called ourselves by our own name? The day we do that, salvation has come upon you! As we learned in James, “Humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up.”