Genesis 32:30 “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
There are meetings for which we are excited; meetings that may cause us to be anxious, and meetings that would grip us with fear. There are meetings for which we prepare. There are chance meetings that turn out to be great blessings. Some take us quite by surprise.
This meeting between God and Jacob came quite unexpectedly. Jacob was alone; away from the huge company that was now his family. Typically, when meeting a man, their strength was tested to see just who it was they were dealing with. A fight or a wrestling match ensued. This one was without weapons, so, it was not a fight to the death.
Jacob showed himself strong and persevering. Wrestling throughout the night, the morning began to break.
Genesis 32:24-25 “And Jacob was left alone, and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 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.”
This theophany – or visible manifestation of God to man – was very personal; singular if you will, to Jacob. So many thoughts run through my mind in trying to visualize this meeting.
God had power enough to squash Jacob with His little finger. Yet, we read; “…he prevailed not against him” and I wonder – Why? Again, the test of strength between two men via the wrestling match. Could it be God was seeing just how far Jacob had come; how much he had grown?
God is omniscient – all-knowing. Wouldn’t He have known what Jacob was capable of? His strength? His weaknesses? Or could it be, He was revealing something to Jacob?
Often, our trials are to strengthen us; to grow us. They come when our faith needs to expand. They come to reveal God’s character; to give an opportunity to trust more thoroughly, or just to show us that we can persevere in the toughest of times.
Jacob was about to face his brother Esau for the first time since tricking him out of his birthright and stealing the blessing of the firstborn. God came in the form of a man to meet with Jacob; to test him and bless him in many ways.
He tested his strength. Not only physical but also his grit and determination. They fought all night. That could not have been an easy task for a man upwards of 50 years old.
Most significantly, he began to realize just Who it was he was fighting. This was revealed when he said:
Genesis 32:26 “And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”
Face to face with God in the flesh.
My heart melts at the thought. Not in fear, but in awe of the ominous immensity of what will be the apex of my relationship to date.
As saved, children of God, we are blessed to be able to experience the very near presence of God here on this earth. For every one of us, it happened the day we got saved. For many, it happens when we bow in prayer. For, what seems to be fewer, a close presence that I believe that God was right there in the room.
I have heard it said that you are as close to God as you want to be. The Word of God bears this out:
James 4:8 “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
Jeremiah 29:13 “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Jacob had stolen the blessings he received from his father, Isaac. Yet, here he was; face to face with God, wanting his own blessing – on his own merit. He had been shown, by God, that he was where God wanted him to be and heading in the direction God wanted him to go.
If you and I were to meet God face to face, what could we offer; what part of our life could we place before Him to say; “God, bless me.”
Our faith will take us to some of the most exciting places in our lives. One day, it will lead to a meeting; face to face with Christ my Savior.
Mrs. Frank E. Breck wrote a beautiful hymn capturing in song this very truth:
Face to face with Christ my Savior, Face to face what will it be When with rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ who died for me?
Face to face I shall behold Him far beyond the starry sky. Face to face in all His glory. I shall see Him by and by.
My dear reader, if you are saved, that day is coming, and you and I are one day closer to it. Meetings of such significance as this one deserve the greatest of care and preparation. If only to reveal how precious we revere just Who it is we are going to meet.