I love this summer of Bible stories, it just keeps getting better and better. In our story for this coming Sunday, Genesis 32:22-31, Jacob struggles all night long with a being who is alluded to be God, or at least an angel of God, representing God. At the end of the night,as dawn is breaking, Jacob’s wrestling partner asks him his name, and when he says “Jacob” the being tells him that his name will be “Israel” from now on, because he has struggled with God and man and not been defeated.
Any number of threads may be pulled out of the story for discussion. One I especially like is the Hebrew tradition that naming something symbolizes your power over it.
The next day after this happens in the story, Jacob meets up with Esau. Jacob has been avoiding his brother for years because he is afraid Esau will kill him in revenge for all the wrongs he did to Esau while they were growing up. But Esau loves his brother and instead of fighting, they have an affectionate reunion and go their ways in peace.
The prayer this morning is for the Peace of Jerusalem, that Israel and Esau, and Isaac and Ishmael, would love each other again. But it seems that even the angel with whom Jacob wrestled cannot bring this peace. As long as Ishmael and Esau tunnel into modern day Israel to murder Jacob’s children, peace cannot come by love, but only by force, and talk of a truce is not only naive, but folly.
Lord, have mercy. For the children.