Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dennis On: Wrestling With Scripture

Wrestling With Scripture
If there was ever a story in the Old Testament that, even as a child, confused me, it would be this one.

Jacob Wrestles

Genesis 32:

24 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but [n]Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob named the place ]Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” 31 Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. 32 Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorGod wrestles with men?  Actually it doesn't say that this was God but that has always been the assumption.  Some say it was "the one who became Jesus Christ."  Really?  The context says it was a man but since Jacob ends up naming the place Peniel which means "I have seen God face to face, the assumptions spring from this.  

What's really going on here.  Is God a vampire that He has to get back in the coffin before the sun rises?  

The REAL explanation of this is fascinating.  I wonder if any ministers in the COG will ever again say that this is Jacob wrestling with God who would become Jesus Christ?

Let me get right to the point.  No sense in going on and on and having to join On-And-On-Anonymous over this story

Jacob was wrestling, in the dark, with his last seen 20 years earlier brother Esau.  This is Esau , the brother deceived by Jacob out of his birthright.  Good reason for a good brother on brother fight.  Jacob had no clue who had accosted him, though in the text he was on the way to see Esau because Esau was coming to see him with 400 men.  Jacob had just taken many of Laban's cattle and sheep and now was having to consider giving them to Esau as a token of being sorry for events 20 years previous.
However, Esau caught up with Jacob in the dark.  Jacob had no clue who he was fighting in the dark.  He had not seen Jacob for many years.  Esau was not ready to tell Jacob who he really was as they scrapped "all night."  It may have seemed like all night to Jacob.  Esau wanted to be done with it by sunrise so Jacob would not recognize his long lost swindled brother.  

That's the simple story.  Jacob was wrestling Esau.  
Prove it!

Genesis 33:

Jacob Meets Esau

33 Then Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. He put the maids and their children in front, and Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph ]last. But he himself passed on ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. He lifted his eyes and saw the women and the children, and said, “Who are these with you?” So he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the maids came near with their children, and they bowed down. Leah likewise came near with her children, and they bowed down; and afterward Joseph came near with Rachel, and they bowed down. And he said, “What do you mean by all this company which I have met?” And he said, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother; let what you have be your own.” 10 Jacob said, “No, please, if now I have found favor in your sight, then take my present from my hand,for I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably. 11 Please take my ]gift which has been brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me and because I have plenty.” Thus he urged him and he took it.
When Jacob said, "for I have seen your face as one sees the face of God,"  this was one of the great "nudge, nudge, wink wink"s of the Old Testament.  It "dawned" on Jacob that it was Esau he was wresting with all night just hours before. It must have been an interesting moment when Jacob realized, "Oh it was you." 
 Esau had forgiven him as he himself had prospered anyway, but a little eye for an eye between brothers seemed appropriate to Esau and a limping Jacob was eye enough for him.

Jacob never wrestled with "God."   Jacob never wrestled with a God that later became Jesus Christ .  The idea that "no man can see the face of God and live," is intact as this story always caused some to wonder, "well Jacob did and he just got a limp out of it." Jacob looked into the face of his brother Esau who later he said , probably sheepishly, was what he thought may have been God and now sees was Esau. It had to be a great moment of realization on Jacob's part.

I would encourage all COG ministers to consider this small example of how you haven't been taught enough about the Bible or you haven't done enough homework to tell everyone how it all is.  Those of you who live off prophetic peepings and mutterings had better be very careful how you teach because you do cause people to determine their life changing actions and beliefs and that can have consequences down the road. Not to mention all the good sinew meat that , "to this day" is not eaten by some because of this misunderstanding.


 Dennis C. Diehl


Douglas Becker said...

It looks like you're calling for ACoG ministers to fall on their e-sword.

DennisCDiehl said...

Naw....just take a look at the sword and see if it is fit to use and has an edge.

Sweetblood777 said...

One problem with your opinion Dennis, is that since when did Jacob's brother have the authority to change his name from Jacob to Israel?

That has as much validity of me saying to you, 'You shall not anymore be called Dennis; but now PoorMeOne.'

DennisCDiehl said...

It's just a story and a tool by which the author of Genesis used to change Jacob's name. The entire setting is Jacob fleeing Laban and meeting up with Esau. It's a reconciliation. Perhaps just a statement that "all things work together for the good..." between the characters of Jacob and Esau. This story is used in the Jewish faith, after all it is their book, not to show that Jacob wrestled with God but that Israel and Edom were reconciled.

I'd not take the account too literally but more as a literary way to make a human point.

It is easier to believe Jacob wrestled unknowingly with his brother that he would meet in few hours for the first time in 20 years than God wrestled, or played with Jacob all night but had to leave before sunrise for some god reason.

Anonymous said...

Yeshua (Jesus) was born about 2000 years after Jacob died, so that certainly eliminates a 'Jesus Son of God vs Jacob Son of Isaac' wrestling event. Incarnation is a fairy tale for little children; try Procreation, as an alternative to the storyline. There's a huge difference between Babel and Begettal.

Why does [Esau] ask Jacob for his name? One would think, even after many years, brothers would recognize their own twin in the duration of a long struggle. Also, it would be odd, if not illegal, for a sibling to rename their sibling.

I'm sticking with the supernatural story.

The last biblical account of Jacob being asked for his name, came from his earthly father. Jacob had lied on that occasion and said, "I am Esau". Jacob had to acknowledge his real name in order to be blessed.

In the book of Hosea there is a reference to this incident,

He took his brother by the heel in the womb, And in his strength he struggled with God. Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; He wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, And there He spoke to us— (Hosea 12:3-4)

DennisCDiehl said...

Of course there will be the supernatural explanation as is the case many times with events that are quite natural. I don't know if the story is literally true or just a story meant to make a point. It is up to the reader to decide I suppose.

In the NT we see the symptoms of medical conditions such as epilepsy taken as demon possession readily "cured" in a short period of time. Such a thing can be frightening for humans to see and rebuked, it clears up in about 20 minutes.

Some prefer the more natual explanation, if it literally occurred and is found as a short episode in a story of two brothers meeting again after 20 years of growing up and one having a reason to give the other a thrashing just to set the record straight perhaps.

Jacobs comments about seeing Esau as if he had seen the face of God is many.

Of course I could be mistaken but in the context of the story, it makes more sense and is more plausible.

My reason for even bringing it up to challenge folk to see how the Book is written and how the stories to make very human points are told.

We can read the story of Peter pronouncing death upon two young church members who promised they'd give all their money from lands sold and held back as meant to bring fear on the church folk not to try that again. Or we can see that Luke/Paul who thought Peter was a dork and should not be followed were telling their followers how hilarious it is that Peter, who also said one thing, he'd not leave Jesus, and did another, also deserved death for lying to the Holy Spirit.

Retired Prof said...

Since when did George W. Bush have the authority to call Karl Rove "Turd Blossom"? To call Alberto Gonzales "Fredo"? Condoleeza Rice "Condi"?

Sometimes other people take up a nickname and it sticks, the way "Condi" did among journalists. Maybe Jacob just thought "Israel" sounded classy and started using it himself.

Nowadays a new name has to be registered at the court house to become official, but not in the Bronze Age. All Jacob had to do was start calling himself by the catchy new moniker, and the deed was done.

DennisCDiehl said...

I find it difficult to believe, maybe it's just me, that Jacob was such a manly man that he could put God in a headlock where God had to beg to be let go before the sun comes up.

Also, while Jacob got his named changed in all this, the text continues to call him Jacob.

"God renames Jacob the first time here (see 35:10 for the second renaming). God then says that from now on, Jacob will be called Israel, but the Bible continues to call him Jacob anyway. Even God calls him Jacob in 46:2."

Maybe God actually said, "Hey Jac....I mean Israel, sorry I forgot."

It's a metaphor for something and the stress and drama Jacob, in the story , was going through just prior to meeting Esau, who had a bone to pick with him over a blessing issue of years ago.

Anonymous said...

"For the righteous, a revelation is a joyous event, the realization of a divine truth. But for the wicked, revelations can be far more terrifying, when dark secrets are exposed and sinners are punished for their trespasses.”—Revenge ~ Emily Thorne

Anonymous said...

You people are disgusting! Arguing over the True Word of the True God like it was just some worldly literature, instead of accepting the Eternal Truth it expresses.

If Gerald Waterhouse was still around, he would be mad! He would prolly give a sermon 5 hours long, instead of four. Then you'd be sorry!

If I had the power to stop you, I would.

Vito Power

Douglas Becker said...

Reconciliation between Jacob and Esau?

Given current events of their descendants, that sure is a hard sell.

Byker Bob said...

What we believe about scripture in general usually dictates what we will glean from specific passages. Some believe it's the word of God (that one gets my vote!), while others believe it is pure manipulative crap, and valueless on top of that. Others believe it's akin to Chaucer's Canterberry Tales, or some old campfire stories. Usually, people find in scripture exactly what they are looking for. The bad, or evil, comes in when other "men" derive authority for themselves from it, and begin generating and inflicting atrocities on them. That's what we might call "bad witness" because it tends to evoke hatred, rather than love.

Some theologians long ago coined the phrase "theophany", meaning an appearance of God to man. Some passages in the Bible have been interpreted as theophanies, and whether they actually are such an event is usually subject to debate.
In the end, the outcome generally becomes yet another thing which we either can't know for a certainty, or perhaps even don't need to know.
Your opinion could probably go either way, and you'd still make it into the Kingdom.


Anonymous said...

"yet another thing which we either can't know for a certainty, or perhaps even don't need to know."

So are we saying then that "we know" this or that is true based on things we can't know for a certainty or perhaps don't need to know? How can we then "know" what we think we know??? You know? :)


Byker Bob said...

MT: I know what I do for these matters, but it's up to you to use your own brain, and seek God's guidance through the Holy Spirit in your own prayers. That's where it becomes personal, and I can't help you on that level.


DennisCDiehl said...

When we don't know something or can't know something yet need to believe it, then we do so with faith and not facts. It is from this fact that we say such things as "don't confuse me with the facts."

Religious claims are not really subject to examination. They are taken in faith as all the facts seem open to arguement and disagreement.

The New Testament, and Paul says "the just shall live by faith," which actually is a misquote of the Old Testament which says, "a man shall live by his faith." The Faith is not the one same thing all have to find and adhere to. Faith is a personal view and way of seeing the world. It can take many forms and take on many aspects. It is personal and a man living by HIS FAITH, is a much differnt concept than Paul's misquote of living by faith, as if it was a thing or a belief system as "the faith."

I have faith and I love facts. I live by my faith and continue to seek facts to know how things really are and came to be.

I have faith in nothing being for nothing and everything just being a part of learning. Learning why or what? I don't know. I think it's more exciting to think that the iron in my blood is the same iron we find in meterorites and stars. It came from there and as Carl Sagan said, "we are all stardust." That's why we are all small literal parts of the same one big thing.

Quantum physics inspires me, as do quarks, mesons, gravitons and strings. I like the idea of parallel universes , branes and 11 dimensions along with worm and black holes that cut through time and space.

I like being me on a small blue dot. And just like you, there is only one of us. Well unless we consider parallel universes where there are other uses. I'd like to be in the one where I DID become a paleontologist but alas am the one conscious only of what has been and now is. :)

The Hubbel Telescope has made the idea of chosen people and jealous Gods who demand worship or else rather silly. Almost as bad as the idea that unless we bleed out a hairless ape gone conscious of itself, there is no forgiveness of sins. That's not to be disrespectful. It is a view born out of a different understanding of where we really come from and how we got here.

Toby said...

Anon 9:20 your reference to Hosea 9:20 to support the traditional notion that Jacob wrestled with an angel from God has been translated differently according to various versions--

Septuagint version of OT (used by Greek speaking Jews and Christians in the 1st century CE): "In the belly he caught the heel of his brother; and in his toils he grew in strength with God. And he grew in strength with the angel, and he prevailed; they wept and beseeched me; in the house of On they found me. There it was spoken to them."

Youngs Literal Translation: "In the womb he took his brother by the heel, And by his strength he was a prince with God, Yea, he is a prince unto the Messenger, And he overcometh by weeping, And he maketh supplication to Him, At Bethel He doth find him, And there He doth speak with us"

Even the Septuagint and YLT translation of Gen 32 and 33 provide different insight and shed a new light into the account in contrast to the "orthdox" KJV translation.

Besides isn't the account more an explanation of why the Israelites or Jews didn't eat the sinew of the thigh?

Assistant Deacon said...

"Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed..."

Seriously, who can't whip an angel? Especially after struggling all night? The story just has to be literal, Dennis.

UT, The Reigning Being Of Being Banned By Banned By HWA said...


Perhaps I can provide you with a laugh at my expense.

Some Christians can read over this passage and get zip from it. However, the kwazier ones like me experience a stream of deep metaphors flowing one after another.

I've wrestled with God through many a dark night - metaphorically speaking.

Usually, my fighting anger is stoked by doubts - doubts about God's existence and all things related.

Throughout the bout I'm often screaming for God to just show Himself to prove Himself.

When the figurative morning comes, I realize that it was ironic that I had been struggling to find God - because He is never closer than when He's wresting with me.

And, blessing do come with the light; so much so that I get the why of the wresting match and feel that I'm far better off for having endured the agony.

Please feel free to laugh a my delusional Christian enlightenment.

You're a fighter too, Dennis. Although, you and I are likely to disagree on how good of a fighter you are. From my perspective you can't take or throw a punch.

However, I believe blessings are the order of your new day too.

Anonymous said...


What if this god is just a product of the collective imagination of roughly 2.1 billion christians and Jews?

Then maybe the source of your agony is the conflict within you that knows "The Truth" does not square with reality.

What if your doubts about his existence and all things related is a deeper part of your mind that knows your belief is a product of your suspension of scrutiny and your faith is a product of an end-run around your cognitive faculties?

How else can you wrestle with someone who does not even show himself? The conflict is internal, not external.

Of course god is never closer that when he's wrestling with you, because god is a function of yourself and you are wrestling with you.

DennisCDiehl said...

I opt for the metaphor of self wresting as well once we get past any literalisms of it all.

The character of Jacob was in a conflict with himself no doubt. He had was emotionally stuck between fleeing Laban who had taken 20 years of his labors rather deceptively and Esau whose birthright he had taken rather deceptively.

Perhaps it took him too long with Laban to throw a punch and with Esau he wasn't sure , as his brother , he could.

I'll go with metaphor as well of struggling with the self in times of self doubt and confusion.

Toby (the origional one) said...

An interesting point Denis,
(jacob wrestling with the "Angel/Esau")
Another one that is seldom mentioned is the fact that they where both 92 years old when this all happened. Also after agreeing to follow after his brother (to the south) Jacob crosses the river northwards and then eventually heads west to Shechem and stays there for many years (long story so i'll stop here)

Anonymous said...


you spoke about landing and taking a punch. I was awake wrestling with "God" over that rather true statment as it has been a theme and evidently how I am wired. I punch by writing and take a punch by endeavoring to better explain what I wrote. Conflict and confrontation is not my skill and being passive aggressive is my approach instinctively evidently. I think I do that because in the past, and even now, the price of punching was too high and reacting to one was either a part of my growing up messages, "we don't get angry" or a gift of the church, "you're fired." I'm sure that works in many places. I have "papers" confirming this approach :)

I missed a lot of better callings in my personal world and I grieve it. But it's all about choices that seem right and prove inadequate in time.

well, sun's coming up so gotta go!!
THanks for the insight and yes, I know.


Byker Bob said...

Most of the situations and morality plays of the Bible are multi-multi-level. They are intended to be thought provoking. Unfortunately, fundamentalist or authoritarian teachers insist on one possible interpretation, most likely the one they came up with themselves. In a man-made box, known as "religion", that is what passes for truth and often becomes the opiate of the masses.

In the "personal relationship with God" scenario, you talk to God, ask Him what you as an individual are supposed to get from a particular passage, He inspires you with personalized thoughts, and you experience personal growth. There is quite a difference between this, and the vain repetitions of religious creed. One works, the other not only doesn't, but also oft sends folks scurrying into non-belief.


Anonymous said...

BB said

"In the "personal relationship with God" scenario, you talk to God, ask Him what you as an individual are supposed to get from a particular passage, He inspires you with personalized thoughts, and you experience personal growth."

Do you just make this up as you go?
How do you know "He" does anything or is it that whatever you think you came up with is what God really came up with for you? There is not one thing in this statement you can prove as really true. This sounds like close my eyes, open the Bible and point to a verse to see what the message for the day is? How is that different from casting bones? What Church do you attend? Most churches would want the group to get the group meaning.

Byker Bob said...

No, I don't make this stuff up. It's certainly different from what we "learned" in WCG, but it's pretty much mainstream Christian teaching.

It's also refreshing, after having deliberately tuned out the spiritual for decades. What did HWA always teach us? That there was no depth to the teachings of "Christians falsely so-called". And, then, he proceeded to give us his own placebo.


UT, The Reigning Being Of Being Banned By Banned By HWA said...

Anonymous of December 6, 2012 8:39 PM:

I hope you don't think I'm some freak who WANTS to wrestle with God!

No, I'm approximately 98% all about wanting to wrestle with a bevy of lusty goddesses.

I don't know how I can even fit those fleeting thoughts of doubt in between all the goddess action.

However, on the darkest of nights on which goddesses dare not romp, that sneaky God shows up with a sucker punch to my solar plexus.

What am I to do? Beyond goddesses, I can think of a lot of other diversions to grapple with before I'd choose God. All the diversions plus the doubts are often my reality.

However, after the all night fight, when I see God face to face, He's my over-riding reality.

You can call this a "product of an end-run around my cognitive faculties" and I can call it a KO from God - we've both got to call them as we see them.

Maybe you'll see God face to face one day!

Anonymous said...

It looks like Dennis Diehl tried wrestling with scripture and lost.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe you'll see God face to face one day!"

I tried to find him for 35 years, so, probably not.

Some might say I didn't try hard enough. Some might say I'm a quitter. Some might say I wasn't righteousness enough. Some might say he didn't want to be found. Some might say I was looking for the wrong god. Some might say there's no god to be found in the first place.

The only one of these I know to be true is that I am indeed a quitter. But there's something to be said for quitting when what you're doing isn't working.

Anonymous said...

Senator Bob Dole, a personal friend of Garner Ted Armstrong, had all of the Garner Ted Armstrong, (actual TV show titled after his own name) preserved into the US Congress Library TV and Film national archives. They continued the congressional order after those programs from 1972 to 1978 were archived, and the Library continued to archive every program the father Herbert Armstrong made from 1978 till his death in 1986. However whenever the father took over the broadcast in 1978 he changed the name to coincide with the radio version titled The World Tomorrow. It is the only program of a religious nature preserved in the national archives. A wikipedia article indicates the program is once again on the air and copyrighted to the splinter group Church of God, Worldwide Ministries, under The World Tomorrow Evangelistic association. Evidently they own the copyright to the archived TV shows made by Herbert Armstrong from 1978 to 1986. Mark Armstrong, as producer of the Garner Ted Armstrong program, inherited the copyright of his dad's materials and has since aired several of the archived shows. Pack is off his rocker as are many of these self appointed splinter group leaders who are blind to the fact Ezk. 34 and Jer. 23 apply to them, and not the Sunday preaching devil ministers. The splinter churches have the truth in that they keep the God ordained and sanctified 7th day sabbath Christ kept, Saturday, over the 1st day of the week devil deception Sunday worshippers and the Holy Days of the Lord rather than the phoney fairy tale man made devil inspired Christmas, Easter, and Halloween.
But the splits have occured just as God ordered Daniel to write in Chapter 12, verse 7 ...and I heard him, (the angel on the bank of the river), swear by HIM, (GOD), who lives forever, saying, "It will be for 3.5 years. When the power", (financial ability to preach the gospel, GOOD News of Christ's return and God's government set up on this earth for all eternity), "of the holy people", (those babtized believers and core supporters mainly splintered fragmented former members of THE WORLDWIDE CHURCH of GOD) "has been finally", (not yet completely) "broken", (fragmented into smaller "splinter groups" BY GOD HIMSELF), "all these things", (earth shattering events leading up to the great tribulation and two witnesses final end time WORK), "will be completed".

God and His Christ led team Members WIN Crown of Life trophy and lifetime Kingdom membership after trouncing Devil led demon influenced dissenters in TRIBULATION Bowl!

Anonymous said...


The Saturday preaching devil ministers are just as bad, only different. HWA, his church, and the entire cloud of splinters it has decomposed into are not mentioned, symbolically spoken of, or cryptically prophesied about. They are not led by god himself. Enough with the fairy tales already!