Bible Characters – Jacob
Bible Characters – Jacob
Jacob came away from his encounter with God limping!
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100 Stand Alone Bible Studies

Bible passage – Genesis 32:7–12, 22–31

In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.” Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”… … That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 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 humans 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.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.


This story of Jacob is an encouragement. In the first place, Jacob was an out-and-out rogue (see Genesis 27:1–41, the background to our study passage, and Genesis 30:25 – 31:2). If God was on his side, he is on your side too – whoever you are and whatever you’ve done!

Then, secondly, Jacob came away from his encounter with God limping. This is something to remember if ever you feel that you are not as shiny a Christian as you might be, that following Jesus seems difficult, and that your encounters with the people of God can be a little bruising at times. Jacob was blessed by God, but he couldn’t get the blessing without the collateral damage. When he found himself between a rock and a hard place Jacob turned to God (he maybe didn’t have too many other friends), and he met God face to face and that changed everything. And God kept his promises – but so did Jacob keep his limp. Maybe some of our personal vulnerabilities and the scars life has left us with are the medals we wear from our encounters with the living God.



How strange and wonderful it is that you, Lord God, who made the heavens and the earth and set all the stars in place, should come close to us and engage with us in the course of our everyday lives. We join with the words of the old hymn in saying, “When on others you are calling, do not pass me by!” Meet with us, God of all our lives, and in our encounter transform and renew us, for we ask it in Jesus’ holy name; Amen.