I Will Not Let You Go Until You Bless Me

A 97-year-old patriarch.

A powerful being.

A late night by a river.

And a wrestling match.

That is what I found in Genesis 32.  A familiar account: Jacob wrestles with God.  Easy to pass by, but not this morning.  I kept coming back to that sentence in verse 28 – “I will not let you go until you bless me.”  How do I make sense of that?  I wondered if I could apply it to my life.  Is it right to say, “I too can and should wrestle with God.  I should hold fast to him, pleading for blessing.”?

I am careful when reading and applying the Bible.  I check my heart.  You see, I want that text to say that I too can wrestle with God when I’m up against the wall like Jacob.  After all, he is about to face a really angry brother who wants his hide on a wall.  When in a crunch, I too want blessing.  But, is it valid to make such an application in and to my life?

I think so.  John Walton writes,

On the banks of the River Jabbok, God finally finds Jacob in a situation in which his sense of self-sufficiency is crumbling.  Jacob is unable to provide for the security of his family…Now, he has his whole family to think about, and he recognizes his inability to vouchsafe their security.  This is what finally brings him to his knees.

Jacob – the man who has so greedily sought blessing throughout his life history, and contended with so many for what he wants – is in a unique place to recognize in a new way his dependence on God.

One of my favorite authors, J.I. Packer, beautifully describes the result of this encounter ::

That night, as Jacob stood alone by the river Jabbok, God met him.  There were hours of desperate, agonised conflict, spiritual and, as it seemed to Jacob, physical also.  Jacob had hold of God; he wanted a blessing, an assurance of divine favour and protection in this crisis, but he could not get what he sought.

Instead, he grew ever more conscious of his own state – utterly helpless and, without God, utterly hopeless.  He felt the full bitterness of his unscrupulous, cynical ways, now coming home to roost.   He had hitherto been self-reliant, believing himself to be more than a match for anything that might come, but now he felt his complete inability to handle things, and knew with blinding, blazing certainty that never again dare he trust himself to look after himself and to carve out his destiny.  Never again dare he try to live by his wits.

…The nature of Jacob’s “prevailing” with God was simply that he held on to God while God weakened him, and wrought in him the spirit of submission and self-distrust; that he had desired God’s blessing so much that he clung to God through all this painful humbling, till he came low enough for God to raise him up by speaking peace to him and assuring him that he need not fear about Esau any more.

So, yes, I may plead with God to bless me.

Yes, I may hold fast to God until he bless me.

And, I will be ready for God to weaken me while he holds me, and I hold him, placing me in the place of readiness for the blessing I desire.

Learning from the Scriptures with you,

Pastor Matthew


5 thoughts on “I Will Not Let You Go Until You Bless Me

  1. I really love this passage from the bible, I do also feel that God wants us to fight for our blessings and not just sit and wait for everything to be handed to us. When we fight for our bleessigs we show the enemy that we believe in the power of the one we serve and on his promise where he says that what ever we ask for in the name of his son Jesus, he will give to us so that the father will be glorified through his son. God bless!

    • Maria, I think I agree with what you are saying, if what you are saying is that we fight, but our fight is the fight of faith. In other words, I think our fight – our effort – is not to do for ourselves. Rather, the fight is to rest in believing in God and his grace to freely provide, so that in this way the Father will be glorified in the Son. Make sense?
      Pastor Matthew

      • I don’t quite understand. How are we to fight for our blessing? How dowe know if God is even wants to bless us or if we are doing the right thing to get the sensing we are seeking?

        • By “fight,” I mean the fight of faith. Further, what I mean by that, is my constant pursuit of God in the midst of difficulty or feeling distant from him. For example, I must, each morning, preach the Gospel to myself. I commonly use Psalm 42 and 43, “Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God! I will again praise him, my salvation and my God!” In this way, I am crying out to God for the blessing of his encouraging presence, and reminder of the hope I have in him. Finally, as his child, I know he desires to bless me, even when it is I who have strayed (see Luke 15:11-32). Blessings to you in Jesus Anita. Pastor Matthew

  2. Pingback: i will not let you go unless you bless me « Pris-tine Pondering

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