Monday, June 30, 2008

Wrestling with God

Genesis 32:22-31

Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the day has broken." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." And he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered." The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

I pray to God a lot. But sometimes prayer just doesn't seem like it is enough. Sometimes I earnestly yearn to see God face to face. Of course, this really means that I would love to meet Jesus face to face. Most of the time, I'd have nothing but lavish praise and thanksgiving to offer should such a meeting take place. But other times, I'm more inclined to want to wrestle as Jacob did. Knowing that I wouldn't stand a chance in a wrestling match with God wouldn't matter at times like these. I would simply ache for the cathartic release that might come could I strive against God and His mysterious will.

God. I love you. But sometimes I want to wrestle with you as Jacob did. Though I might never be the same afterward.


Greg Loselle said...


Seriously off the topic, here. You're aware that the KJV calls the being with whom Jacob wrestled an angel? I'd love to know why this translation identifies him as God.

Greg Loselle

revolution said...

Actually, neither version says that it was an angel. Both versions say that it was a man. But both versions also quote Jacob as saying that he saw God face to face (which is an impossiblity given the experience Moses had on the mountaintop.)

So we are left with a quandry - who or what was it?

Possibly a Christophany - an appearance of Jesus before his actual birth.

Personally, I'm not much of a nit-picker when it comes to Biblical matters, nor am I a big fan of the King James Version.

I just like to know that it is possible, if not likely, that I can and will interact with God on a personal and even physical level at some points in my life.

Angeleyes said...

I'm with Revolution, the value of the story is not in picking holes in the metaphore. Pesonally in a time where many feel they must be so sure, vocal and rightous in their worship it's comforting to know others wrestle with their faith at times.

revolution said...

Not exactly what I meant by my comments. Mr. Loselle is a longtime, highly respected, mentor or mine - since I was a youngin. I wouldn't read any anymosity into either of our statements.

Greg Loselle said...

No animosity, of course! This is an English teacher speaking, so I was interested in the wording of the translation--and Lou is right: the figure is never explicitly identified, though there's a folk tradition of "jacob wrestling with the angel." Check out a painting by Gauguin, "The Vision After the Sermon."

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