This passage is found in the Narrative Lectionary, Year 2 (Most recently Sept 27, 2015)
This passage is also found in the Revised Common Lectionary at points during Pentecost season., most recently October 2016 and August 2017.
Summary: This passage is rich with names and their meanings. But don't get distracted by all of this. The main action is not in the words, but in the dirt! God is getting down and dirty with Jacob, wrestling away. God will stop at nothing to transform us [insert segue to cross], so that, quoting Luther, "I might be his own!"
בד (pronounced "bad", meaning "alone", 32:24) Jacob's being alone harkens back to the first case of man being alone in the Bible, namely the Garden of Eden (2:18). A few contrasts and connections:
- Cause of loneliness: Adam did not have a partner yet; Jacob has alienated his loved ones (his brother; his uncle)
- God meets dust: In Genesis 2, God creates out of the dust; in Genesis 32, God "gets dusty" (see below)
- God blesses through creation: In the Garden, God creates a woman; in Genesis 32, God creates a humble Jacob, ready to love, forgive, be forgiven.
אבק ("abaq", meaning to wrestle; literally dust, 32:24) It is worth pointing out that the word for wrestle is related to the word for dust (they are the same spelling and root.) To wrestle is literally to get dusty. God gets down and dirty with Jacob to transform him.
יעקב ("Yakov" or "Jacob", 32:27) The name Jacob means "he cheats" or "he steals." I've read before that names had power in the ancient word; knowing the name gave one authority over another. I still think this is true when I teach children. Once I know there names, I can much more easily manage their behavior! The point is that Jacob's revelation of his name was giving God power over him; but it also reveals humility because Jacob's name was a confession of sin.
שרית (conjugated form of שרה, "Sarah", meaning "strive", 32:28) This is fascinating. The root word of "Israel" (ישראל) is "Sarah" (שרה), which means strive/struggle. Of all the patriarchs and people in the Bible, Israel has the name Sarah in it!! As a side note, the full meaning of the word is hard to ascertain because it is not used that often in the Bible. Sarah certainly embodies the striving and struggling as much as anyone in the OT.
As a curious side note, the first example of the name is "Israel" in recorded history is from 1200 BC Egypt: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merneptah_Stele
יכל ("yacal", meaning "able", 32:28) This is fascinating verb because it simply means "can" and "is able." I think the translation of "prevail" is far too strong. I think endure is much better translation. I think it is worth pointing out that the only victory over God in life (again, I just "endure" as a better verb) is through submitting to God.
פניאל ("Peniel" meaning "face of God", 32:30) What I would like to point out here is that most English translations leave this as Peniel. The Greek (LXX) leaves it as "the place he saw God." This brings up a great question about Old Testament translation -- when do we translate the meaning of names and places and when do we leave them as is? (Do we expect people to read footnotes!)
Friday, July 21, 2017
Here is a proposal for a sermon series on freedom of a Christian. Feel free to use. I would really love some help creating adult Sunday school materials. Email me if you are interested!
Date Oct 22
Gospel Matthew 22:15-22 (Paying taxes; rendering to Caesar)
Theme Freedom is both a freedom from…and a freedom for
Quick Take The culture tells us that freedom is about autonomy, the freedom, really the right, to do what we want. Scripture teaches us that while we are radically free before God in Christ, we are radically bound -- freed for -- service to our neighbor. This sermon will lay out this tension and unpack the trajectory of the series: what freedom in Christ really looks like.
Possible OT Story David fights Goliath (1 Samuel 17)
Possible Psalm Psalm 41
Date Oct 29 Reformation
Gospel John 8:31-36 (Freedom in truth)
Theme Freedom to repent
Quick Take The culture tells us that sin is arachaic concept. As we have abandoned the concept of sin, we have become no less judgmental of a culture. In fact, most people (especially parents) experience tremendous guilt each day. In Christ we are free to confess our sins and live in the hope of God's ensuring grace that can carry us and even transform us. We are justified by God in Christ alone. This means that no one has a right to judge us, except for THE judge, who has declared us loved.
Possible OT Story David's Fall (2 Samuel 11-12)
Possible Psalm Psalm 51
Date Nov 5 All Saints
Gospel Matthew 5:1-12 (Beatitudes)
Theme Freedom to grieve
Quick Take The culture tells us to celebrate the death of loved ones, who are, in some weird way, still with us. We shame guilt and expect productivity to abound. As Christians who believe in the resurrection, we know that we will see our loved ones again. This means we are not simply saying goodbye, but until we meet again. This hope allows us to grieve them not being here now.
Possible OT Story Naomi and Daughters (Ruth 1)
Possible Psalm Psalm 4, 6
Date Nov 12
Gospel Matthew 25:1-13 (Parable of the Bridesmaids)
Theme Freedom to wait
Quick Take The culture tells us that we can have what we want, and have it now. In Christ we have the hope to wait -- to be mindful of the present even!
Possible OT Story Joseph in prison (Genesis 40)
Possible Psalm Psalm 27/40
Date Nov 19
Gospel Matthew 25:14-30 (Parable of the Talents)
Theme Freedom to give
Quick Take The culture tells us that life is about consumption. Christ teachs us that live is about giving it away…and seeing it multiply!
Possible OT Story Widow at Zarapheth (1 Kings 17)
Possible Psalm Psalm 23/24
Date Nov 26 Christ the King
Gospel Matthew 25:31-46 (Parable of the Sheep and Goats)
Theme Freedom to praise
Quick Take The culture tells us we are physical beings whose fulfillment is found in self-exploration and actualization. In Christ we learn that our ultimate destiny is a life time of service that leads to an eternity of praise. We can let go and fall into the embrace of a loving God, from whom all blessings flow.
Possible OT Story Miriam (Exodus 15)
Possible Psalm Psalm 150