face to face in peniel!

And He said, “Let me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” (Genesis 32:26)

According to the Gospel, the first man to meet God face to face was Jacob. He named the place where he met God as ‘Peniel’. Peniel means ‘a new beginning’ or ‘a place where sun rises.’ At that time Jacob least expected to meet God. Only his fear over his brother inspired him to resort to stay with God.

He retained his wife and children on one side of the river To Japho and prayed to God seeking his mercy and blessing, staying on the other side of the river. Firstly the prayer clears the fear from the mind, secondly it brings in God’s presence and thirdly it provides the faith that He will do everything for me. Finally it gives the great blessing of meeting God face to face.

As 13:21 of Proverbs says “Evil pursues sinners”, his act of cheating his brother with stew and snatching his birthright came to his thought. His unsavory act of putting on the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck to make his father believe that his brother had too much hair in his body, in order to get the blessings of his father, also came to his mind.

When God came there unexpectedly Jacob held God tightly. He prayed day and night was stubborn that he will not allow God unless He blesses him. He fell on God’s feet and cried. Hosea the prophet describes this incident this way. “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).

God said to Jacob “Your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.” (Genesis 35:10). A big change came in the life of Jacob from the day on which he met God face to face. Till then Jacob had been known as ‘a cheat’ but after the change he was called as ‘Israel.’ The meaning of Israel is that “struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28)

Yes. “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.” (Mathew 11:12). Jacob, who fought with God in prayer, later received peace and joy. He had mental satisfaction when he met his brother on the next day.

To meditate: “…. you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints.” (Rom 15:30-31)