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Wrestling God

Dr. Tim Mackie
Did God really pick a fight with Jacob in the middle of the night? In this Bible study, we take a closer look at Genesis 32.

Did God really pick a fight with Jacob in the middle of the night? Are we reading this right? In today’s Bible study, we’re exploring a fascinating story from Genesis that shows us God’s relentless commitment to bless his people despite themselves. Listen to the message, watch the video, open your Bible, and interact with the questions below.


Listen to a short message from Tim on Jacob's encounter with God in Genesis 32. You can listen to this on your own or with a group. If you are leading a small group or family, feel free to listen to the message and contextualize it for your needs.
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Tim's Message on Genesis 32
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Listen to the whole audio on the Reflections Podcast

Read and Discuss


Video Question
What image stood out to you in the video and why?

Message Question
How did Tim’s message challenge or encourage you today?

God blesses Jacob from birth (Genesis 25:19-34), but Jacob lives as if God’s blessing depends on his own scheming and skills. And he’s willing to sabotage anyone to get what he wants. In spite of this, God does not abandon Jacob. Instead, God commits himself even more to Jacob by visiting him in person to wrestle it all out. God wounds Jacob in the struggle, and it’s precisely this wound that helps Jacob finally receive God’s blessing as a gift. It’s a gift he could never acquire by himself, no matter how hard he tries.

Note: Feel free to reflect on all the questions or just a few. You can also return to this study throughout the week and focus on one question per day.

Reflection 1:

As you review today’s passage, pay attention to the details. What do you observe?

Reflection 2:

Notice the faithful character of God. He’s committed to fulfilling the promise he’s made to his stubborn people, no matter what. And he continually pours out his mercy on them so that they can still receive his blessing. What other examples in Scripture show this aspect of God’s character?

Reflection 3:

Notice Jacob’s character flaws. He chases after his own security by stealing the blessings and security of the people around him. What else do you notice about Jacob in the Genesis story?

Reflection 4:

Jacob’s story provides an opportunity for self-reflection. What’s one thing you have chased after in life (approval, love, etc.)? How did you chase it, and what did that pursuit cost you and others?

Reflection 5:

Let’s learn from Jacob’s mistakes. How has God already given or promised the very things you’ve chased after? What does it practically look like for you to receive (instead of chase) God’s blessings and promises through Jesus and his Spirit? To go deeper, read Ephesians 1:1-23, 2:1-10.

Reflection 6:

How has God intervened in your life to help you receive his promises and blessing? What did you learn through that experience?

Reflection 7:

Turn your reflections into a prayer. Thank God for being faithful to fulfill his promises and for all the ways he’s intervened in your life to help you receive his gifts. Be honest about the ways you’ve schemed after things he’s already given or promised through Jesus and ask for his help to trust him today.

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