Content for this article was taken from the new book Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus). For more articles included in the book go to Love Like Jesus Book. Love Like Jesus is due to be published in 2018.
Read Genesis 32:22-32
Where we left Jacob: In Genesis 32:1-21 we saw Jacob approaching his brother Esau’s territory on his way back home. As he neared his encounter with Esau, he became increasingly concerned with their history, specifically his deceit and manipulation of Esau to trick him out of his birthright and blessing, and Esau’s threat to murder Jacob for revenge. Jacob became afraid and sent gifts ahead in an attempt to appease Esau. He also prayed a fervent prayer to the LORD, asking Him for His help. (see previous post, Genesis 32:1-21 – Save me I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau)
If you’ve ever dreamed of having a powerful encounter with God Himself, read on.
We pick up our story on the night before Jacob will encounter Esau. He takes Leah, Rachel, their two handmaidens whom he took as wives, and his eleven sons, and he sends them across the river at the ford of Jabbok. Then he sends across all the rest of his possessions until he’s alone.
So here’s Jacob, just about to encounter Esau, just about to encounter, what is now at this moment, his greatest fear. And it’s when he’s alone that God chooses to encounter Jacob, coming to Jacob in the form of a man. (Is this man an angel? Is he a preincarnate appearance of Christ? Different scholars have different takes on the question) What we do know is that the man wrestles with Jacob all night long. At daybreak the man realizes he can’t overpower Jacob, so he touches Jacob’s hip socket, so Jacob’s hip is is wrenched. Then the man says, Let me go–it’s daybreak.
But Jacob says, I won’t let you go unless you bless me. (You might be tempted here, to think that Jacob is demanding to be blessed. But we see in Hosea 12:4 that Jacob was actually weeping and begging to be blessed.)
The man asks him, What’s your name?
Decades earlier, Jacob’s father Isaac had asked him the same question, What’s your name? And Jacob answered with a lie: Esau, he told his father. (Genesis 27:19) Here we see God’s angel, who quite obviously, already knows Jacob’s name, asking again, as if to say, Let’s see how well you answer this time? Many of us are trying to be someone who we’re not. I wish I were that guy, we say. Or, I wish I had what she has, we think. I wish I could do what he does… When we come to the place where we accept who we are, that’s the place where God can begin to use us most effectively. The LORD doesn’t want you to be someone else, the LORD wants you to be the best you, you can be.
Jacob, he answers.
Then the man says, Your name won’t be Jacob anymore, but Israel (which means he struggles with God or governed by God), because you’ve struggled with both God and with humans and have overcome.
Then Jacob says, Please, tell me your name.
But the man doesn’t tell him his name. He only answers Jacob’s request with a question, Why do you ask for my name?
Then the man blesses Jacob.
So Jacob calls the place Peniel. (which means face of God) He says, I call it Peniel because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.
By now the sun’s rising high in the sky, so Jacob limps along, because of his sore hip, out of that place called Peniel.
And to this day, the Israelites don’t eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
Alone with God:
So here’s Jacob, just about to encounter Esau, just about to encounter, what is now at this moment, his greatest fear. And it’s when he’s alone that God chooses to encounter Jacob.
This is huge! This is one of the most powerful secrets to confronting your fears! When you’re about to encounter something or someone you fear, do whatever you need to do to be alone. Send your wife across the river, so to speak, if you have to. Send your kids to the sitter if you need to. Take a vacation day if necessary. Do whatever you have to do to separate yourself from your people, possessions, and responsibilities, and get away.
Find a way to be alone, and God will find a way to encounter you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8 NKJV) And when He does, it’ll probably be emotional. It will probably be a struggle. There will be wrestling over your issue. An argument may even ensue, as you pour out your feelings, your fears, and maybe even your tears. (Hosea 12:4)
But don’t let go of Him. Hang onto Him for as long as it takes, until you’re blessed.
This is one of the most powerful actions you can take in life. It might feel weird at first, it might feel awkward initially, but try and see. If you do what I say here, if you do what Jacob did, and if you do it fervently, you’ll be blessed beyond your expectations.
God touches us in amazing and beautiful ways. He touches us when He helps us through unemployment, or a failed marriage, or a financial disaster. He touches us when He turns our hearts toward Him, and toward others.
One of my favorite examples of God’s touch occurred when the leper approached Jesus, begging Him for healing. Now at that time, in that culture, it was against the law to touch a leper. “Outcast unclean! Outcast unclean!” lepers were required to shout, everywhere they went. A leper was a person who hadn’t felt the touch of another human being in a very long time. A leper was a person devoid of physical affection from others.
But Jesus, disregarding the law of humankind, in response to this lepers pleading, reached out and touched him, and he was healed. (See previous post — Mark 1:40-45 Jesus’ Touch)
However, there’s another way in which the LORD touches us. I’ve experienced it myself. Ten years ago I was in the prime of life. My marriage was doing well. My family was doing well. Professionally I was a part of the leadership in my organization, and doing well. My wife and I were just starting up our vacation rental business, it was going well. We were building a 4,000 sq ft home overlooking the beautiful Rogue Valley. Physically I was doing well. I was a high energy guy who worked from early morning until late at night. And, in my not so humble opinion, I thought, spiritually I was doing well also.
Then God touched me.
I was in Portland for a college class I needed for my Fire Administration degree. My family and I had just enjoyed a nice dinner and we were leaving our hotel to walk over to the Lloyd Center Mall right across the street. As soon as I hit the cold January air, it felt as though someone had removed all the oxygen from the atmosphere. I honestly thought that I had somehow walked into an invisible cloud of hazardous chemical gas. The only problem with that theory was, I was the only one in our group who couldn’t breath.
Next thing you know I’m in the hospital for a double by-pass operation. I can’t tell you how many people told me, I was the last person on earth they thought would need open heart surgery. But God touched me.
No longer was I a high energy guy. Gone was the capability to work from early morning until late at night. The capacity of my flesh was reduced dramatically. But I continued to try to live my life the way I always had: teaching a men’s leadership Bible study once a week, leading a church home group twice a month, serving as an elder at church, I was writing my book, I finished up school to get my degree, I took a promotion at work. As you might imagine, things didn’t go so well. I began to struggle with depression, partly from the heart medication, partly from the changes in my body, and partly because I wasn’t adjusting to life after God’s touch.
That was ten years ago. Now I see God’s hand in it all. He taught me things, important things: I used to think that most people were lazy. I didn’t understand why they didn’t work as hard as I did. God taught me not to think that way anymore. He showed me that everything I have is because of Him and not me. Even my previous high energy level was a gift from Him, and He taught me that He can take away that gift, or any other gift, anytime He thinks it would benefit me to do so. He revealed to me my faults and my shortcomings. He helped me to see that I can be a difficult person to be around. He helped me to see that I’m a person who needs His grace, and His mercy.
He rocked my world. He humbled me. He humbled me in a big way.
And now, having walked through that valley, I’m thankful for His touch. If I had the power to go back in time and have God take a pass on touching me in that way, I wouldn’t do it. I would rather be more of the man He wants me to be, with a reduced capacity, than a man with abundant energy, but who’s less His man.
And that’s not even the best part. The other day Kathy and I were standing in line at Barnes & Noble when an older lady told us the story of how her husband went to sleep one night and never woke up. He died of a heart attack before morning. A few days later, after an hour of bicycling, I felt nauseous. Twenty minutes after that I had chest pain accompanied by pain in my left shoulder radiating down my arm. If you know anything about heart attacks, these are classic symptoms. I couldn’t help but think, Hey, this could be it, just like the lady’s husband from Barnes & Noble, the Lord might take me home before morning. Obviously by virtue of the fact that I’m writing this post, it wasn’t my time yet, but for the past ten years, similar aches and pains happen from time to time. And every time, I’m reminded of heaven and eternity. Every time, I’m reminded of how short life is, here on earth, and how long eternity is, there with Christ.
The best part is, God’s touch has had the effect of turning my heart toward heaven, toward Jesus, toward eternity. God’s touch has changed my perspective completely. It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I’d rather live another two years with this perspective than another twenty primarily focused on the things of this world.
And it’s not just me. I know a man who had a similar experience when a knee replacement operation went badly. I read about a C 3-4 quadriplegic from Erie, Pennsylvania who says his broken neck was the best thing that ever happened to him. Just a few nights ago, I talked with a friend of mine who’s missing his right lower leg–he told me the accident that took his leg was the greatest thing that ever happened to him. This is what Paul is talking about when he says, he (Christ) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)
God touched Jacob. It’s interesting to note that after God touched his hip, we see very little evidence of sin in Jacob’s life. The angel even gave him a new name. He was no longer Jacob the “heel snatcher,” but now he would be called Israel, “governed by God.”
God touched Jacob, and the entire nation of Israel, from that day forward, no longer ate from the sinew of the hip socket, in remembrance of Jacob. He is remembered, not for his cleverness, not for his shrewdness, not for his amazing capability, but for his brokenness before his God. And for the rich and deep relationship he had with his LORD, after he was touched in the hip. God touched Jacob, He touched these other men I wrote of, He touched me. If He touches you in this way, after you’re through the valley, you’ll be surprised at the blessings that await you on the other side.
God may touch you, because He’s always more concerned about your eternal condition, than He is with your current comfort.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Right now you might be asking yourself about your own eternal condition. Maybe you’re like me before God touched me, consumed with the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches. If you are, maybe you’re reading this for a reason. Maybe this is your time to give yourself to Jesus, I mean really give yourself to Him, wholly and completely. That’s what made all the difference for me. That’s what will make all the difference for you too.
That day when I fell on my face and surrendered my life to Him, that’s the day everything changed.
You can do the same.
Humble yourself before Him and give your whole self to Jesus.
You’ll never regret it.
(I would love to hear from you. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Coming in January of 2020:
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.
(Kindle, hardcover, and paperback are scheduled to come out in 2020.)
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I was born and raised an atheists, and that lasted for 34 years, last august I felt the touch of god, it healed me my body, cleaned my mind. God is everything, and we are a part of it.
I spoke to a pastor for the first time yesterday and he told me of the Jacob hip story, which is exactly where I was touched, It’s Interesting to know I’m not insane, but stories like this actually happen, that the supernatural exists, and we are open to the experiences of this. god bless us all
Yes! Exactly. God is real and I don’t know why but He loves us! And He interacts with us sometimes in these strange ways. Thanks for sharing your story with me. Hope to hear from you again.
I have been seeking God on many things in regard to my calling and what direction it has been taking the last few years. I felt like He abandoned me many times and then I get reassurance many times that He is still guiding me. Lately I feel like a puppy being nudged along by it’s mother’s nose to guide it where the mother is wanting it to go for whatever reasons the mother has. A few months ago I was mowing the lawn and I sprained my hip! What a weird thing to happen! (Like you, I have a history of being very physically fit also and at one time was training for competitions.) I have been using Chinese herbs to heal and strengthen my body for many years so the hip is healing very nicely and I am able to almost completely use it normal. Today as I was speed walking, I prayed for the first 25 minutes, partly in English and partly in my prayer language. At the end of my prayer time and before I realized my music was playing the Holy Spirit showed me how when I started out this morning my hip hurt and I was being careful to not re-injure it and then it was totally fine once I started a slow jog for 2 miles and finished with another few miles of speed walking. He equated my hip to Jacob’s hip. Now it all made sense how I could sprain my hip just mowing the lawn! Before that happened, I had been literally wrestling with God for several years over the direction my calling is going and sometimes thinking I missed something and other times knowing God is still guiding me. His financial blessings haven’t been coming the way I was used to and really testing my faith. Now I am stepping back and seeing where I started to do something the Lord had for me to do that started on 2006 and in 2009 just as I was about to do it (a big move to another state that would further my calling) someone came along aborted the whole process. That derailed me for 4 years and it took serious warfare to get me out of that situation. Now He has brought me back to completing that move and really having to have faith because the finances I had back then are not here now. I thought I had to wait for them to get better back then, and now I am ready to take a leap of faith and just go! So like Jacob, my blessing is the way that my faith has grown over the last 9 months!
So many don’t recognize the opportunity in suffering but I see, Pat, that you have! You’re finding growth from your injured hip even as Jacob did. I hope and pray our God will lead you down the specific path He has in mind for you.
Amen Kurt! Thank you for your encouragement and prayer! I was blessed to learn many years ago that there is value in suffering and God will always make a way to learn from it. At that time, I had been being poisoned with arsenic for 10 months and learned more and more natural healing by the way of herbs and foods to “fix” it with the leading of the Holy Spirit. That is what launched me into my calling which for 10 years I prayed for people and gave them free nutritional and herbal advice. After that He gave me the instructions on how to start a business with all that He had been teaching me. I wanted to build a Biblical healing center totally free from man made medical things and that vision is Alive & Well! There have been some variances along the way for God to teach me more about natural healing. I will still continue to learn more about natural healing till Jesus comes back! Of course I pray for my clients, sometimes they (or I) have received supernatural miraculous healing from God (such as broken bones healed right before our eyes, ovary regrown instantaneously) and other times He leads through a nutritional approach. I thank God for being my insurance and doctor. (I never saw in His word where it says to do anything else, in fact the woman with the issue of blood spent all she had on doctors for 12 years and was worse instead of better.) The whole requirement for insurance in this country for 8 years prior to 2016 had me doing serious warfare because I refused to get insurance and kept doing things naturally and trusting God and He brought me and my children through it with no medical insurance, no penalties and no doctor intervention! God is truly the Great Physician!
Wow, just fantastic!!
Hi , Thank you for this message on when God gives a touch to people seeking Him. I have been greatly encouraged. God bless you.
Whatever you’re going through Phinehas, go with Jesus, and never give up.
I must say first, I am a Jew and while I believe Jesus of Nazareth to have been a Hebrew Prophet in the spirit of those who came before him, and while I believe him to have been the Messiah for many a Jew in his time and gentiles since then, he is no more the son of God or God than Bilaam’s Donkey. Having said that, I admire your knowledge of Torah and the lessons you abstract from the text are life enhancing.
I am the one who comes in his own name. http://jonathanmichaelrobbins.blogspot.co.il/2017/05/a-total-eclipse-of-america-1111-soon.html
Our Father has been telling me to seek understanding of Jacob…it’s all over scripture…thank you for sharing your testimony. My understanding has been enlightened by yourself and others. Jacob represents the gentiles in the receiving the blessing of his father without being the chosen by law. He even used animal skin to cover his self to receive it…which likely connects to the sacrifice of Jesus’s covering over us. He indicated clearly that He didn’t want us to be anyone else and that by our receiving the gift given we can walk into who we are in Christ’s offering which changes our name to Isreal. It does not make us Jews but it does make us His chosen. One more thing I’d like to share in case you are not aware. The 7th day was given and made Holy immediately after He created us Gen 2:3. That’s very clear how important it is to Him. We’re not to “keep it” by our earning something but by our Honor of His will over man’s traditions. Hopefully this will bless you. He is an amazing Father of love and freedom in Christ! God bless you!
Many Thanks for the article, its inspiring and a lot to learn from that. Hope to read more of your articles on topics which are rarely discussed. Thank you for the depth of writing with simple and easy language. Will post queries if you are willing to get bothered :).
Thank you once again for the lovely experience of learning from the article.
Thanks & Regards,
Noah, I love to hear from readers! Post questions anytime. Thanks for stopping by.
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When I read this, it seems to be like my story, even I am team leader if my company, physically I am well fit, only because of God ‘s grace, one thing I learned from this message and our pastor also thought us the same thing, fall on the rock (Jesus), if the rock falls on you it will be very difficult to get up, and He is the only one who will help you to get up.
Humble yourself, before God humbles you
Thanks for this excellent message.
“Humble yourself, before God humbles you.” That’s an excellent comment! Thank you for stopping by.
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Wow thanks for this article! I was reading this story this morning and felt confused about what it was saying, and I was really touched by how you’ve explained it here.
I’m glad you found it helpful Ben. Thanks for stopping by!
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Just what I needed to read.I struggle with being unemployed due to a disability.Thank you for turning my eyes from me to God.Perhaps I am not useless and he can use me.
I’m so happy to hear that David! For me a big turning point came when I stopped focusing on what I could not do and started focusing on what, by God’s grace, I can do. I was amazed at how blessed I am. Yes I have physical issues but wow, there is so much I can do, including prayer, and writing a blog!
My wife read your comment and said I should share with you the following story:
And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. (2 Samuel 9:8-10 ESV)
So even Mephibosheth ate at the Kings table. And you and I will too, because we’re Jesus’ bride.
If you want to, you can email me any time David: email@example.com
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Was reading about Jacob wrestling with God the last night in my quiet time, and I never really understood the meaning of “God touching Jacob’s socket”. After reading your blog, I not only understood God’s touching but also alot of the other past of that chapter.
It was nicely written. God bless!
Thanks for stopping by Stephen.
Wow! i like the read! i now understand and can relate why i also have been going thru similiar circumstances..In previous years i was a very spoilt person got everything i wanted for many of years, but later in life things went bad.i got depressed had 3 knee ops which still not so good, body pains coming from no where, lack of work,anxiety ,divorce , which was my fault cause i was an idiot! also lack of cash , Heartbreak, Emptiness,etc.. i was losing desire to live just felt exhausted and down,couldnt care if i left this planet being dead seemed easier than to live,didnt have to face another depressing day. i so hated the frustrating deepressing ,pain enduring journey i was going thru ,and wouldnt wish it on anyone. But crazily enough as i look back now im glad i went thru it.God is amazing all of this has taught me gold advice and has done something i cannot completely explain. All i know is im starting to now enjoy life,i appreciate it more and i love chatting with god and seeking to understand more about him i feel im arriving in a different place with god and i like it! i like it a real lot , i can see he has a plan for me and im now dareing to believe in him like i have never done before. i have seen miracles and joy and peace and soundmind slowly develope in my life and his love grace and goodness is being more exposed as i learn more about him, its amazing! i also learnt what we go thru sometimes isnt about us but for someone else who you can help when they are faced with various troubles.and we all have our share of troubles jesus said we will have many troubles but we will overcome them all it doesnt mean they vanish it means we work through them in gods help and grace
“…crazily enough as i look back now im glad i went thru it.God is amazing all of this has taught me gold advice and has done something i cannot completely explain.”
I like how you expressed that Evan because that’s how I felt too. Looking back on it with 20/20 hindsight, I think we need a certain level of humility before we surrender ourselves to God and begin to live the abundant life He wants us to live. Sometimes trials like yours and mine are the way God accomplishes that transformation, transformation from a man too proud to let go of his self-life to a man with a humble spirit.
Thanks for stopping by and thank you for sharing your story.
I came to tears reading this. Speechless.
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