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With New Testament Eyes: 8 - Peniel - The Face of God

By Henry Mahan


      Genesis 32:24-32

      v. 24. 'And Jacob was left alone.' Was there ever a man more troubled, more frightened and confused, more alone than Jacob at this time? His whole life had been one of trouble and disappointment.

      1. He was born second to Esau; he was inferior to Esau; his father preferred Esau.

      2. Pushed by his mother to deceive his blind father, he had stolen the birthright.

      3. Threatened with death by his brother, he fled from his country.

      4. God met him at Bethel, promised his blessings, and confirmed what I'm sure his mother had told him (Gen. 25:22-23; Rom. 9:10-13).

      5. He had been deceived by Laban, as he had deceived Isaac, and married a woman he did not want (Gen. 29:16-26).

      6. He was told by God to return home (Gen. 31:3).

      7. On his journey home he was told that Esau, his brother, was coming to meet him with 400 men (Gen. 32:6-8).

      Now Jacob is alone, afraid, and helpless. There's no more time nor room for plotting, scheming, and manipulating. He is shut up to the sovereign power and deliverance of God. Like Israel at the sea and Jonah in the whale, his salvation is totally in the hands of God (Jonah 2:9; Exo. 14:13). Those whom the Lord is pleased to save and to whom he will reveal his mercy in Christ Jesus will all be brought to the place of human helplessness and inability. There must be left no room for boasting nor glorying in the flesh (Psalm 107:1-6, 11-13; 1 Cor. 1:26-31).

      'There wrestled a man with him.' Who was this man? There is no doubt that it was Christ, who frequently appeared in human form to saints of the Old Testament in token and pledge of his future incarnation (Heb. 7:1-3). Verses 26, 28, and 30 reveal who the man is.

      Jacob, being an object of God's love and mercy, was laid hold of by the Lord Jesus in sovereign power and purpose (Rom. 8:29-31); Jacob, in his loneliness, fear, and need, laid hold of Christ. This was a physical, mental, and spiritual conflict which had to be resolved. God is sovereign and man is responsible; God will have his people and his people will have their God (John 6:37-39); the Lord is King by right, by decree, and by his death; but he will be the King in the hearts of his people by true submission and surrender (Psalm 110:3; Rom. 10:9-10). 'They wrestled until the breaking of the day.' This was no brief and passing encounter, as an indifferent decision at the front of the church. Great issues are at stake; eternal matters will be resolved right here as Christ personally meets Jacob.

      God will bless and use Jacob; but it will be a conquered, subdued, and surrendered Jacob.

      v. 25. 'When he saw that he prevailed not against Jacob, he touched his thigh and crippled him.' There is no question but that the Lord could have easily subdued Jacob. The conflict was ordered by God, and the outcome is not in doubt. But God's people are not puppets nor robots; and through his revelation, trials, and dealings with them, they must see, feel, and experience the frailty of flesh, the emptiness of this world, the glory of God in Christ, and desire above all things his salvation and his presence. Finally, the Lord struck a crippling blow and Jacob went down.

      v. 26. He had touched Jacob and would leave; but Jacob held on, crying for the Lord's blessing and power. 'I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.' He had had an unusual revelation, he had wrestled with God, he had been wounded; but the battle is not over for Jacob until he is assured of the Lord's permanent blessing upon him and his peace within him. This was life or death for Jacob--a battle that would not be fought again. He had heard promises of God's blessings; now he wanted them in truth. He was still Jacob, his past clouded with sin. He was a wanderer in a strange country and must still face Esau, his angry brother. He knew he was no better off for this experience unless the Lord gave him his approval, acceptance, and presence.

      vv. 27-28. Our Lord asked, 'What is your name?'' He said, 'Jacob,' cheat, supplanter, deceiver, holder of the birthright by human effort. He had laid claim to the blessing by his mother's and his decision and deception; now he wanted the blessing from God by God's will and purpose! The Lord changed his name to Israel, a prince who has power (acceptance, union, and sonship) with God. This position is not one achieved by merit, works, nor human will but by his grace (John 1:11-13; Rom. 9:15-16; Eph. 1:3-7).

      v. 29. Jacob asked, 'What is your name?' The Lord replied, do you ask my name?' We can only speculate, but ...

      1. Human curiosity has a way of prying into things God has not volunteered.

      2. Perhaps Jacob looked for proof and signs. Is not his word enough?

      3. Maybe there was a little pride and ambition to be on a first-name basis with God.

      One thing is certain--Jacob will not be carried beyond the bounds of faith prescribed for the age in which he lived. We believe God as he has been pleased to reveal himself to us, and true faith demands nothing more.

      v. 30. Jacob called the place, 'Peniel,' the face of God; for he said, 'I have seen God face to face.'

      1. This was no mere emotional experience; he had met Christ.

      2. No soul-winner nor preacher told him that he was saved; he had personally encountered the Redeemer himself.

      3. He knew that his life was preserved by the will and act of God, who could have justly destroyed him (Rom. 8:33-34). I met God and came away preserved--what a small matter it is now to meet Esau!

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See Also:
   Foreward & Acknowledgements
   1 - The Fall
   2 - Abel's Offering
   3 - The Ark Of Noah
   4 - Sarah and Hagar; Law and Grace
   5 - The Lord Will Provide
   6 - A Bride for the Heir
   7 - Bethel - The House of God
   8 - Peniel - The Face of God
   9 - Joseph Opens the Storehouses
   10 - Joseph and His Brothers
   11 - Shiloh
   12 - The Passover
   13 - The Manna
   14 - Water from the rock
   15 - The Blood Before the Lord
   16 - The Ram of Consecration
   17 - The Day of Atonement
   18 - Caleb - The Faithful Dog
   19 - The High Priest Intercedes
   20 - The Brazen Serpent
   21 - A Prophet Like Moses
   22 - The Cities of Refuge
   23 - Joshua
   24 - The Scarlet Line in the Window
   25 - The birth of Samson
   26 - The Kinsman Redeemer
   27 - The Song of Hannah
   28 - Give us a King
   29 - Saul's Great Sin
   30 - David and Mephibosheth
   31 - Why God Permitted David to Fall
   32 - Comfort from God's Covenant
   33 - I Will Not Offer to God that which Cost me Nothing
   34 - The Queen of Sheba Comes to Solomon
   35 - Three Examples of Faith
   36 - Where is the Lord God of Elijah?
   37 - Empty Vessels Filled
   38 - Naaman, the Leper
   39 - Open his Eyes that He may See
   40 - Four Lepers Teach us a Lesson
   41 - Nehushtan--A Piece of Brass
   42 - Bringing Back the Ark
   43 - Uzziah's Great Transgression
   44 - Four Things Learned in Trouble
   45 - How Can Man be Just With God?
   46 - Three Vital Questions
   47 - I Know that my Redeemer Liveth
   48 - Now Mine Eye Seeth Thee
   49 - The Psalm of Messiah the King
   50 - God's two great books
   51 - The Psalm of the Cross
   52 - The Lord is my Shepherd
   53 - True God - True Israel - True Redeemer
   54 - Eight Great Precepts
   55 - My Hope is in Thee
   56 - Many, O Lord, Are Thy Wonderful Works
   57 - A Song of Love
   58 - The Sinner's Prayer
   59 - My Rock and my Salvation
   60 - Our Lord's Sufferings for Our Sins
   61 - Mercy and Truth are Met Together
   62 - The Victory of the Messiah
   63 - Bless the Lord, O my Soul
   64 - Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So
   65 - The King-Priest
   66 - The Chief Cornerstone
   67 - The Observer and the Observed
   68 - Praise the Lord O my Soul
   69 - Wisdom in Christ
   70 - The Conclusion of the Whole Matter
   71 - Remember Now Thy Creator
   72 - My Beloved is Mine and I am His
   73 - What is Thy Beloved more than Another Beloved?
   74 - The Lord Our Righteousness
   75 - The Believers Hope
   76 - From Nothing to Everything
   77 - Lost, Driven Away, Broken, Sick
   78 - Can These Bones Live?
   79 - Four Things God Taught Nebuchadnezzar
   80 - Thy God Will Deliver Thee
   81 - Hosea--Type of Christ
   82 - A Famine to be Feared
   83 - Salvation is of the Lord
   84 - A Fountain Opened for Mourners
   85 - The Messenger of the Covenant

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