Prepare to Listen. Light 2 purple candles. Be still and silently repeat: You are the Lord my God.
Prayerfully Read Genesis 32:22-31
22The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ 27So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ 28Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.’ 29Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. 30So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’ 31The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.
Jacob’s exile began when “the sun had set.” It ended when “the sun rose upon him.” This is the nature of exiles, even the figurative ones we experience. Exiles always begin with darkness, the darkness of loss, homelessness, sense of God’s absence. Walking out of exile feels like a homecoming, as though the sun has finally risen, the light returned, darkness dispelled.
However, the transition from sunset to sunrise isn’t without difficulty. Jacob’s homecoming meant facing Esau, who was coming to meet him with an army of 400 men (Gen 32:6). In fear, Jacob sent his family and possessions across the river, while he remained alone. Once again he discovered that God was present. This time not in a dream, but in the form of a wrestler; not with words, but with silence. As always God came in an unexpected and surprising way. When we assume God will show up as before, we’ll pass God by without even noticing him.
Jacob had to wrestle with God all night for the blessing he desired, an authentic one, not one stolen from his father. But first, and before exile could end, he had to confess his sin. Responding to the man’s request for his name was a confession of sin since his name meant deceiver, a description of the life he’d been living. God forgave him and gave him a new name, transforming him from deceiver to one who strives with God.
The man left and Jacob renamed the place Peniel because he’d “seen God face to face.” He limped out of exile as “the sun rose upon him.”
In what ways has God shown up in your life? Have you experienced ‘the sun rising upon you’ and what was it like?
Respond in Prayer
Lord, I pray today for those who wait for the sun to rise upon them so they once again experience your presence. Amen.
Live Obediently. Be open to see God’s sun rising on you.
Reading my Bible has been central in my life since I received my first Bible at 8 years of age. My decades of reading, studying and teaching the Bible gives my devotions a unique and enriching perspective. Reflecting on Jesus' family tree enriched my understanding of Jesus and the salvation he offers.