וישלח/VaYishlach

Torah: Genesis 32:4-36:43

Haftarah: Obadiah 1:1-21

Brit Chadashah: Hebrews 11:11-20

Wilderness.webp

As this week’s portion begins, Jacob, after 22 years in exile in Haran is returning to Canaan.  Yet, in order to return to Canaan however, he and his people had to first pass through to Edom, the land of his twin brother Esau.  Knowing this, Jacob sends messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau (Genesis 32:4(3)).  Yet, the Torah tells us that, “The messengers returned to Jacob saying, “We went to your brother, to Esau, and he’s also coming out to meet you - and 400 men with him” - Gen 32:7.  It seems that this frightens Jacob, and therefore he decides that before he can return from his exile, he must to face his fears and meet with his brother Esau. Yet, Jacob decides to face Esau alone, and therefore, divides his people and sends them across the Jaddok river.

After Jacob does this, we find him alone, waiting for Esau, and his 400+ men.  While he is waiting, sometime in the night, a Man appears and Jacob wrestles with Him.  The Torah doesn’t give the exact reason as to why this wrestling match began - it simply says, “So Jacob remained alone all by himself. Then a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn” - Gen 32:25.  Yet, it does indicate Jacob’s desire. After, this mysterious man, dislocates the hip-socket of Jacob, Jacob, recognizes the supernatural nature of this man, and says to him, “I won’t let you go unless You bless me” - Gen 32:27b. Who is this man? The Torah doesn’t immediately identify Him, but Jacob seems to recognize Him - wether it is was before he wrestled with Him, during or after - Jacob names the place Peniel - “the Face of G-D” - “for I’ve seen G-D face to face, and my life has been spared” - Gen 32:31. This seems to give us an indication of who this Man actually was - G-D Himself, who appeared as the Angel of the L-RD. The prophet Hosea, actually identifies this Man, in fact as G-D - the Angel of the L-RD, “In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel, and in his vigor he strove with G-D. Yes, he wrestled with the Angel and won; he wept and sought His favor. At Bethel He will find us, and there He will speak with us” - Hos 12:4-5. Just like the Angel of the L-RD, who appeared before Israel in the wilderness, as a Pillar of Cloud by day, and a Pillar of fire by night, this “Man,” was in fact the pre-incarnate Messiah, who came and wrestled with Jacob.  

The prophet Hosea, reveals to us that this wrestling match, may have been more than just a physical struggle - it may have indeed been more of a spiritual struggle. In Jacob’s preparation, to meet with Esau, the Torah reveals that just before this event, that within Jacob there was indeed a struggle going on - “Then Jacob said, ‘O G-D of my father Abraham, and G-D of my father Isaac, Adonai, who said to me, ‘Return to your land and to your relatives and I will do good with you.’ I am unworthy of all the proofs of mercy and of all the dependability that you have shown your servant. For with only my staff I crossed over this Jordan, and now I’ve  become two camps” - Gen 32:10-11. Jacob, saw himself as not worthy before Adonai, to carry on his calling of the promise that G-D had delivered first through Abraham, and then through Isaac, which is now upon Jacob. “How can I possibly serve You O G-D, when I cannot even face my fears?” Many times the enemy tries to defeat us spiritually before, he defeats us physically. In other words, if he can break our spirit, out faith will then come crashing down, and we essentially give up. Struggling is nothing new in this world, we are surrounded by circumstances, as well as trials and tribulations, that seem to overwhelm us. Yet, ultimately, our strength comes from Adonai, and not from ourselves, which Jacob would soon discover (or at least, remember). 

There are times when we are in midst of struggle, that we are faced with two important choices - do we rely upon our own strength or, do we rely upon the strength of Adonai? Faced with these two decisions, believe or not, it is sometimes easy to forget that we must rely upon the strength of Adonai so that we might prevail over the struggle that we find ourselves in. Oftentimes, we seemingly “let go” of Adonai when the struggle seems to be taking too long or, our prayers seem that they’re not being answered. Yet, the Scriptures remind us that we are in fact to rely upon the strength of Adonai at all times - in every area of struggle, during trial and tribulation. The Bible goes on to tell us that our struggles actually build endurance and strength so, that we can overcome present and future struggles - as well, as “let go” of past struggles. As it is written, “For you need perseverance so that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” - Her 10:36. The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, that like Jacob, we must simply hold on to this promise for soon, we will overcome through Messiah. Just as Jacob did at Peniel - “For yet, ‘in a little while the Coming One will come, and He will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by emunah (faith)” - Heb 10:37-38a. Therefore, we find strength in submission to Adonai’s will, rather than our will, as Jacob himself did as well.

There are times when we are in midst of struggle, that we are faced with two important choices - do we rely upon our own strength or, do we rely upon the strength of Adonai? Faced with these two decisions, believe or not, it is sometimes easy to forget that we must rely upon the strength of Adonai so that we might prevail over the struggle that we find ourselves in. Oftentimes, we seemingly “let go” of Adonai when the struggle seems to be taking too long or, our prayers seem that they’re not being answered. Yet, the Scriptures remind us that we are in fact to rely upon the strength of Adonai at all times - in every area of struggle, during trial and tribulation. The Bible goes on to tell us that our struggles actually build endurance and strength so, that we can overcome present and future struggles - as well, as “let go” of past struggles. As it is written, “For you need perseverance so that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” - Her 10:36. The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, that like Jacob, we must simply hold on to this promise for soon, we will overcome through Messiah. Just as Jacob did at Peniel - “For yet, ‘in a little while the Coming One will come, and He will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by emunah (faith)” - Heb 10:37-38a. Therefore, we find strength in submission to Adonai’s will, rather than our will, as Jacob himself did as well.

When the the wrestling match between Jacob and this “Man” was over, the Torah tells us, that he did indeed walk away with his life spared. Yet, he walked away not merely a different man, but a new man with a new name - “Then He said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but rather Israel, for you have struggled with G-D and with men, and you have overcome” - Gen 32:29. Jacob was given another chance at life. How do we know this? It is because he, himself said so, “So Jacob named the place Peniel, ‘for I’ve seen G-D face to face, and my life has been spared’” - Gen 32:31. According to Torah, no man can see the face of G-D and live (Ex 33:20). Yet, in this instance, Jacob did just that - he saw the face of G-D and lived. Thus, after experiencing this, maybe his he truly had nothing to fear regarding his meeting with Esau, especially, now that he’d prevailed with G-D, and lived - and, that he has now been blessed with a new life. Faced with the reality of new life, one’s perspective changes in regards of what this world and its troubles have to offer - our outlook changes, we must see things differently, we must respond differently, and we even must believe differently. We are no longer who we used to be, before, the gift of new life. We are in fact new creations (2 Cor 5:17). Yet, beyond that, it is not even we, who live, but Messiah who now lives through us - “It is no longer I who live, but Messiah who lives in me. And the life I now live in the body, I live by trusting Ben-Elohim - Who loved me and gave Himself up for me” - Gal 2:20. However the secret is, to remain in Messiah, to live in Messiah, as well as to walk with Messiah. Messiah Yeshua, should not remain outside of our lives, but within our lives - within ourselves. We mustn’t fear any longer, at what the enemy can do, we must only fear Adonai, because He is our strength.

The Torah makes it clear that Jacob did not prevail against this “Man,” but instead, with Him - “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but rather Israel, fro  you have struggle with G-D and with men, and you have overcome” - Gen 32:29. There is a difference between prevailing with G-D, and prevailing against G-D. Prevailing with G-D means that like Jacob, one holds on to Adonai, rather than resisting Him. Jacob realized that the only way he can prevail, was by holding on to the Angel of the L-RD, so that he might be able to prevail and live. Letting go of Him, may have indeed meant certain death. Yet, that is what many choose to do, let go of Him, resist Him and go on their own to take on the trials and tribulations without any help or assistance from G-D. Yet, doing so, one must return to their old nature, to their old self, and even worse, to their old way of life - giving up on the goodness of G-D, and His prevailing mercy - something of which the Scriptures say, is a terrible thing to do (Heb 6:4-5). Even the angels rely upon the strength of G-D to overcome the enemy of our souls (Jude 1:8-9). Messiah Himself, taught that apart from Him, our flesh is indeed weak, especially in times of temptation - “Keep watching and praying, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” - Mt 26:40. In Messiah Yeshua, our will no longer should belong to us, but instead to Him, who desires nothing more than to do the will of the Father, as He did by giving up His life for us upon the Tree - “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me! Yet, not as I will, but as You will” - Mt 26:39b.

Interestingly, Jacob needed the strength of Adonai, to go the Bethel, which means the House of G-D. On the same token, we today, need the strength of Adonai, to enter into His House, which is done through the Messiah. Yet, even more striking is that the word “wrestled” (vayeavak), also means, “raising the dust,” which provides the picture of resurrection - burying the old man, and raising up the new one. Thus, this portion, paints for us a picture of both death and resurrection, as it is written, “He gives strength to the weary, and to the one without vigor, He adds might” - Is 40:29. In Messiah, we have been given a new name, a new identity, as well a new life. Yet, all of this comes when we submit or, surrender our will for His will. When this is done, death to the flesh comes, but new life in the Spirit enters - and, now we have prevailed in this world, because we are going on to the next, where Messiah Yeshua abides for eternity. Therefore, while we are here, we can consolation, as well as strength, as He, Himself as given us His own strength, because He abides us, as long as we abide in Him - as it is written, “No weapon for against you will prosper and you will condemn every tongue that arises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of Adonai’s servants - their vindication is from Me. It is a declaration of Adonai” - Is 54:17.

Through Messiah Yeshua, we have new life, and this new life, is meant to be lived now in Him. We have been given the blessing of eternal life through Messiah’s sacrifice, so that we can prevail with G-D, and not against Him any longer. Therefore, submit to His will, to His Word, and to His Promise, which are all in Messiah Yeshua - the One who is our strength and our life - as He Himself, said, “I am the resurrection and the life! Whoever believes in Me, even if he dies, shall live” - Jn 11:25.

Shalom