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Worship Services

Wrestling with God

May 24, 2020
Genesis 32:22-32
preached by
Pastor Jon Needham

Sermon text

Genesis 32:22–32

Jacob Wrestles with God

[22] The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. [23] He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. [24] And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. [25] 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. [26] Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” [27] And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” [28] 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.” [29] 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. [30] 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.” [31] The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. [32] Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob's hip on the sinew of the thigh. (ESV)

Understanding the text

What happens physically in this story demonstrates what has been going on in Jacob’s life for quite some time. Jacob was wrestling with God. This is how God would reveal himself to Jacob and also how God will reveal who Jacob is to Jacob himself! Jacob was alone. It is often the case that God does His greatest work in our hearts when we are alone and removed from all distractions.

Through Jacob’s encounter with God, he learns two very important things. First, God has great and incredible power. By simply touching Jacob’s hip, He was able to injure Jacob. Second, Jacob saw that though he had indeed wrestled with God, God had withheld His great power and not destroyed Jacob. God’s power was used for Jacob, not against Jacob. Jacob would be reminded of this important truth by the limp that would accompany him from that day forward.

Additional scripture

  1. Proverb 26:7
  2. Romans 12:3
  3. Psalm 37:7

Applying the text

  1. Why do you think God waited until Jacob was alone to have this encounter with him? What does this teach us about the importance of getting alone with God?
  2. In what sense can Jacob’s wound and limp be seen as a gift from God?
  3. How does this story reveal both God’s great power and His gentle care?

Call to Worship

Psalm 50:1–6

[1] The Mighty One, God the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
[2] Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.

[3] Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
before him is a devouring fire,
around him a mighty tempest.
[4] He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
[5] “Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
[6] The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge! (ESV)

Prayer of Confession

Gracious God, we find ourselves in circumstances we have not chosen, and we struggle to find any sense of normalcy. We know that You are the Rock, yet we lean on other foundations; We know that You are sovereign, but we seek security in our own control; We know that You give comfort, but we elevate comforts of our own design; We know that You satisfy, but we keep scrolling; We know that You set us free, but addictions grip us tightly; We know that You call us to rest, but we keep struggling. By grace, forgive us. In mercy, meet us. By Your Holy Spirit, equip us to walk in the newness of life-with-Christ, In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Resources for Parents

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, we are suspending all physical gatherings. However, we recognize that discipleship doesn't take a break and parents still need resources and encouragement as they train up their children in the LORD. To that end, our Kids Ministry Director, Krysta Kogut, will be going live on Facebook on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 12 pm to share a short devotional time for Coram Deo's kids. We hope you can join us!


Jon is the lead pastor and founding pastor of Coram Deo Church. He and his wife live in Bremerton with their three kids. He loves spending time with his family and riding motorcycles.


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