"What Is Thy Name?"            

Genesis 32:27


     The Lord Jesus had been wrestling with Jacob all night. At last he had touched the hollow of his thigh, rendering Jacob helpless before him. All Jacob could do was cling to his Master and seek the blessing of his favor. "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 thou hast power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."

     Jacob was made to confess his name. When the Lord asked, "What is thy name?", it was not for his information, but for Jacob's humiliation and instruction. God forced Jacob to acknowledge who and what he was. "My name is Jacob." I am a cheat, a supplanter, a deceiver. I hold the birthright by my own efforts; and all my efforts are sin. I am Jacob, the sinner!

     Then the Lord gave him a new name - Israel. Israel implies royalty, sonship, acceptance, and favor with God. It means, "prince with God." Israel is one who has power with God because he has favor with God. This was not the result of Jacob's will, works, or worth. It was the gift of God's free grace (John 1:11-13; Rom. 9:15-16; Eph. 1:3-7). Israel also means, "God commands." Israel is one whose life is commanded and ruled not by self, or by satan, or by the world, or by circumstances, but by God.

     As a prince,Jacob had power with God and with men. His new name, Israel, was a constant reminder to Jacob of his success, strength, and blessedness. Indeed all that made him to differ with and prevail over men was the gift of God's grace, the result of God's command, not the result of his own excellence (I Cor. 4:7).

     Yet, Jacob was still a man of sinful flesh. Jacob said to the man who wrestled with him, "Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?" He was a subdued man; but his flesh was not destroyed. He pried into that which God had not yet revealed, and sought familiarity with God. The Lord refused to tell him his name, because he must believe God within the scope of his revelation. Faith demands no more than God reveals!

     Yet, the Lord "blessed him there," in spite of his weakness, in spite of his sinful curiosity. Thank God, the blessings of his grace are unconditional and free!



Don Fortner