Are you guilty of taking God’s name in vain? Read on.
I have always found this story of Jacob wrestling with God a bit intriguing. Some believe this was an Angel others believe it is a Theophany, an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ. The text omits so much of the story.
Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”27 So He said to him, “What is your name?”He said, “Jacob.”28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel;[b] for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.”And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel:[c] “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
I meet strangers all of the time and it isn’t a part of my normal introduction to wrestle them all night long until they give me a blessing. Jacob actually acts more like a Duck Dynasty cast member. Imagine the dialogue that prompted such contending that a man would wrestle with an Angel or God. Regardless of what started it, the fact that this was no ordinary man adds to the mystery. Yet the part that leaves the casual reader dumbfounded, is the blessing; a new name. I am wrestling with God believing I may in fact die, and I let go when He says you get a new name? It makes no sense to my mind. I would have asked for wealth, wisdom, honor, long life, or children that serve the Lord all of their day, but a new name? When you consider his life’s story.
Jacob’s name meant supplanter, deceiver, etc. I like to call him “Tricky Jake”. So imagine every time someone called his name, they were calling him a deceiver and a cheat. All lifelong his very name implied shame. His story tells us that he lived up to that name. The Hebrew meaning of a name often gives insight into a Biblical character; a name revealed and produced identity.
Changing his name meant he could step into a new identity as one who knew God and walked in blessing. We believe what we have seen and heard. The old saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Isn’t true at all, words can hurt or heal, empower or enslave. Jacob was released into his destiny by a new name.
I recently heard Dale Anderson teaching on the subject of taking the Lord’s name in vain. He proposed that this went beyond the definition of using it as curse word and included much more. He spoke of their adopted daughter, who had taken on the family’s name but had not received or accepted the fullness of her identity. As a small toddler she pulled away, resisted being held and normal affection. Psychologists call it “Attachment Disorder.” Dale called it taking the “family name in vain.” Taking the name but living outside of its benefits. They persisted in loving and she seemed equally determined to resist, but then there was a glorious moment of “wrestling” where she received the name and embraced the fullness of her new family’s love. Her name changed her destiny. She is an amazing woman now serving the LORD with whole hearted abandon. Likewise Jacob’s name changed his destiny and spoke of God’s perspective of him.
All who have been adopted into the family of God must have a wrestling for identity. There is that moment in time where we receive the benefits of His love and adoption into the family. It is necessary for us to be secure in His love for us to hear and receive the Father’s blessing! The Father’s blessing always equips us to walk out our destiny and calling. Are you living under a false identity, adopted into God’s family, but resisting the benefits of living as a son or daughter. Your not a hireling, a foster kid, or step child your a beloved family member of the King now live in the fullness of this true identity.