And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram, and he camped before the city. And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent. There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.
Jacob was scared. Esau, his twin brother, was coming to meet him. Jacob had stolen Esau’s birthright and deceived their father into giving Esau’s blessing of the firstborn to him as well. Years had passed since he escaped. Now it was time for an accounting.
The night before the meeting with Esau, Jacob had a meeting with God. Appearing in the form of an angel, God wrestled with Jacob. That night God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, a name that means “to struggle with God.” The next day the meeting between the twin brothers took place. To Jacob’s relief, Esau did not seek revenge. Jacob built an altar to God in thanksgiving and praise and called it “The Mighty God of Israel,” El Elohe Israel.
Jacob thought his struggle would be with Esau, but it was really with God. That is often the case for us. God uses life’s challenges to “wrestle” with us and help us see that he is stretching and molding us into the person he wants us to be. Sometimes we “wrestle” with God in prayer, seeking his guidance in a particular situation. An encounter with God allows us to experience his strength, love, and blessing. Wrestling with God enables us to call him “The Mighty God of Israel.”
El Elohe Israel,
You are the God whom I encounter and struggle with. Sometimes I don’t understand your ways. Sometimes I get impatient with your timing. Sometimes I think I am frustrated with others when I am really frustrated with you. Thank you for your grace and patience. Thank you for stretching me and growing me. Thank you for being the Mighty God of Israel. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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