Sermons by Pastor Walter Snyder plus announcements, articles, videos, and anything else that doesn’t fit Ask the Pastor or the Luther Library.

20 October 2019

Pentecost 19 Sermon: Wrestling for a Blessing

Preached on Genesis 32:22–30
19th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 24C
20 October AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Wrestling for a Blessing.

Genesis 32:22-30 Summary: God allowed — or forced — Jacob to struggle with Him throughout the night before easily taking the budding patriarch out of the fight. Yet even though a dislocated hip would prevent a physical victory, Jacob clung on for a blessing.

He received more than that, for the Lord also gave him a new name. Instead of being known as the Heel Grabbing Trickster, he was now the God Wrestler. We don’t know the exact text of the blessing but we know that it was be Israel’s new name, not Abraham’s, by which God’s chosen people would be called.

God also renames us as He blesses us. In Baptism, while we keep the names given by our parents, we receive a new family name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As God’s children, our new selves still struggle with Him, not in competition but rather cooperation. He moves us to strive against our own sinful desires, the allure of the world, and Satan’s temptations.

During our days of wrestling on earth, Peniel* times come as we meet God face to face in Word and Sacrament. Still, though, we only see Him in part. The fulness of this revelation must wait until our resurrection into eternal life.

*Peniel is Hebrew for “face of God.”

Text: The same night [Jacob] arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had.

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.

Genesis 32:22-30 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.”

But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

And he said to him, “What is your name?”

And he said, “Jacob.”

Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.”

But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him.

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” Genesis 32:22-30

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Wrestling for a Blessing.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8

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