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The hip and the bush

When Jacob met his God 

Here is that curious incident in Jacob’s life.

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he answered. Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.’ Jacob said, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he replied, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.’” (Genesis 32:24-30)

It starts off as a scuffle, though a rather prolonged one, with the deadlock only broken by an illegal move. By the end of the story we realize that Jacob has had an encounter with God, an encounter so profoundly significant that Jacob is renamed. His protagonist is both man and God, so could this be Jesus himself who fought that extended bout?

The final word takes us back to the burning bush. Compare God’s words to Moses when he asked Him to identify Himself, with Jesus’ words to the Pharisees when they asked him to identify himself.

“God said to Moses, "I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' " (Exodus 3:14)

"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58)

The words should speak aloud to you and will be further analysed in a later article.

So we rest our case. Jesus was far from idle between Creation and Incarnation. God did not just light the blue touch paper and let his angels get on with the process of guiding His Covenant people through the trials and struggles of establishing themselves and fulfilling the role assigned to them. Not only was He in total charge at all times, but at certain turning points, such as the Binding of Isaac and the Burning Bush, He had to make a personal appearance. These were the appearances of the Angel of the LORD, none other than Jesus himself and we can only just marvel at the realization that we have a God unafraid to get His hands dirty for no other reason than the fact that He loves us so much.

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