All of Jacob’s children except one, were born in Padan Aram, (Iraq) where he toiled for Laban for fourteen years. For fourteen years Laban had experienced the blessing of Genesis 12:3, for the whole time Jacob worked for him, he was blessed, so also his flocks and grazing lands.
But in this foreign land, Jacob sensed a change, a shift in mood among Laban and his sons. Jacob and his growing family are suddenly becoming suspect, and there is danger in the air.
And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory. And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before. And the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.(Genesis 31:1-3)
This would not be the sat times Jacob’s children would be called to come back into the promised land, from wherever foreign land they find themselves. Among the gentiles, the winds of favor would shift, and the children of Jacob which were manifestly a blessing, would countless times in the future, suddenly be seen as a threat and a problem to be dealt with, the so called “Jewish problem”.
Jacob rounded up his family and fled Laban, for the promised Land. Because Jacob fled with his family and personal stock, Laban pursued him. Eventually Laban overtook Jacob, but God personally warned Laban not to harm him.
Laban chided Jacob for leaving without allowing him to say goodbye to his daughters, and went through all of Jacob’s possessions, including the tents of his wives, because one of his wives had stolen Laban’s household gods.
When Laban approached Rachel, sitting on the saddle of a camel, she begged his pardon, saying she couldn’t rise to allow him to search, because she was having her monthly period. But she was sitting on the household gods, hiding them.
The point is that as Jacob was coming back into the promised Land, the family was in unbelief. So shall it be in the last days, Israel shall go back into the land , but defiled and estranged from God, in unbelief.
A covenant is made, goodbyes are said, and Jacob and family go towards the Jordan border of the promised land, and Laban and family go home. But Jacob’s troubles are only starting.
HE must now face an even worse persecutor than Laban, for the news has come to him that Esau his enraged twin is approaching with a substantial army.
Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape. And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.(Genesis 32:7-12)
Jacob is frightened.He began to create division among his goods and family, hoping to forestall Esau. He fervently prays to the God of the covenant, and of his fathers, citing God’s promises, and renouncing his own personal Righteousness.
Then Jacob sends little companies of gifts, sheep, camels, goats towards Esau, hoping to appease his enraged brother.In this way Jacob reduced himself to virtually nothing.
Finally Jacob sent his immediate family on, away, leaving him utterly alone.
It is when Jacob is all alone on this dark night, but not entirely alone, for a figure of a man was there.
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.(Genesis 32:24-30)
Jacob wrestled with the ‘man’ first, until the man stripped him of his natural strength, (The wrestling expert, Dan Gable of the university of Iowa, teaches that the core of any man’s strength and the key to control, is the Hip).
So Jacob didn’t really wrestle all night, rather you could say that he wrestled until his natural strength was gone, then he simply clung to the ‘man’, until he receive the blessing. The’man ‘ acted as though he wanted to move on before daybreak, but Jacob refused to let him go without some kind of blessing, for he realized that the ‘man’ was the messenger of the Covenant.
So the man asked Jacob for his name, getting to confess to it,”My name is ‘heel grabber’…”. The Angel then gave Jacob a new name, ISRAEl, meaning, “the prince which prevailed with God”.
The long night was now over, and Jacob would ever walk with a limp, but he had received a new, ideal name, ISRAEL. He realized that it was God himself whom he had been wrestling, and ultimately clinging to until the breaking of the dawn.
Years later, the prophet Hosea would recount the story to the seed of Jacob, to incite them to repentance again as their father Jacob did,
The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us; Even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial.(Hosea 12:2-5)
One day soon, the currently estranged descendants of Jacob, are destined for a similar dark night, and dreadful accounting. Jacob has come back into the land again so that this prophetic story can be re-capitulated.
Esau is involved again, having amassed a huge constituency which has designs to utterly obliterate Jacob , and to wipe the nation and name of Israel off the face of the earth.He has lobbied the powerful nations of the earth, through oil wealth to turn on the only democracy in the Middle East as though Jacob were a pariah.
And once again Jacob is reduced to himself alone, for we have witnessed all of Jacob’s friends and lovers defect from any friendship with Him, either pretending neutrality or openly siding with the murderous Esau/Goliath Muslim confederations of the earth.
Jeremiah issues the solemn warning-
Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book. For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.(Jeremiah 30:2-3)
It shall happen in the days when Israel comes back into existence and God calls the seed of Jacob back into the land…
And these are the words that the Lord spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.(Jeremiah 30:4-7)
The time of Jacob’s trouble…the day of “Tribulation such as the world has never known before, nor shall ever see again”.
But we are comforted, that as at JAbbock, God shall save Jacob out of it, and save Jacob/Israel. He will destroy those who come against her, but only correct his erring Son.
For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them. Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the Lord; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet I will not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.(Genesis 30:8-11)