Hosea urged his people to imitate the conduct of their progenitor – Jacob when he wrote: “He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and in his strength he struggled with God. Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; he wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, and there He spoke to us—” (Hosea 12:3,4). Here, Hosea referred to Jacob’s persistence in prayer when he resulted with God, the Angel of the covenant (Genesis 32:22–32), and prevailed, so that his name was changed from Jacob to Israel which means “he fights with God” (Genesis 32:28).
Jacob’s encounter with God
Because Jacob had used deception to secure his father’s blessing, intended for Esau, he fled for his life for his brother threatened to kill him. After staying for many years in exile, he, at God’s command, planned to return with family, his flocks and herds, back to his home country. Upon arriving to the borders of the land, he was filled with terror by the news of Esau’s coming with a band of warriors, to take revenge. He realized that It was his own sin that had brought this danger upon his family. His only hope was in the mercy of God.
To prepare for the predicament, Jacob spent the night in prayer. He wanted to confess his sin and make everything right with God. The Scripture tells us: “Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” (Genesis 32:24–26).
By his persistence in prayer and faith, God gave Jacob the blessing before the night had passed. For the Angel of Covenant said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed” (Genesis 32: 28). The Angel of the Covenant was the Son of God (Genesis 32:30). During that specific night, Jacob began with a struggle but ended it in prayer. The end of all wrestling with God is not to conquer Him but to conquer self. The acknowledgment of weakness is our strength, and those who approach the Lord with this prayer, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me,” will find out that it grants them power from the Lord.
Jacob experience shows:
(1) The effectiveness of intense and persistent prayer (Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Jacob did not give up when he faced the troubles that threatened him, nor yielded to the distresses that beset him. He bravely met the discouragements that engulphed him, not, however, in his own power but by the power God gave, he triumphed. The wrestling symbolized the serious earnestness and vigor he put forth. The persistence with which he prayed and begged is expressed in the words, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”
(2) Only through God’s help can we overcome the sins and troubles in our lives. The angel’s touch that crippled Jacob’s thigh and took away his strength showed for all time human helplessness to win in the battle with sin, and certainly showed what the Lord can do if we will place ourselves in His arms (Matthew 1:21; John 15:5; Philippians 4:13; Hebrews 13:20, 21).
As, Jacob had consecrated himself to God, and received His blessings. Now Hosea appeals to Jacob’s descendants to purge their lives of all idolatry, and to stop making the world and its pursuits the prime attention of their lives (Hosea 4:15).
In His service,
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