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Jacob's Wrestling

Jacob's Wrestling

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY REV. R. J. CAMPBELL, M.A,

"And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a
man with him until the breaking of the day.'' — Gen.
xxxii. 24,
BY REV. R. J. CAMPBELL, M.A,

"And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a
man with him until the breaking of the day.'' — Gen.
xxxii. 24,

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Feb 07, 2014
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02/07/2014

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JACOB'S WRESTLING BY REV. R. J. CAMPBELL, M.A,"And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.'' — Gen. xxxii. 24, In approaching the subject indicated in our text 1 am conscious of a certain amount of difficulty arising from the fact that this passage has been preached upon so often that it has come to acquire a significance for the Christian mind which no one wishes to have disturbed. Most people are im-patient of anything which sounds like criticism of an accepted view of any subject — religious, literary, social, or political. And yet without such criti-cism we cannot possibly arrive at definite knowledge of the sources of our beliefs or the true strength of our convictions. You are all aware, no doubt, of the way in which this story of Jacob's wrestling with the angel has been made use of in Christian thought in the im-mediate past. Take our own hymn book, for
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instance, and notice the w^ay in which reference is made to the episode in Charles Wesley's well-known hymn. Come, O Thou Traveller unknown, Whom still I hold, but cannot see, My company before is gone, And I am left alone with Thee; 44 JACOB'S WRESTLING 45 With thee all night I mean to stay, And wrestle till the break of day. The very phrase, *' wrestHng with God in prayer," is derived from the language of our text, and im-plies that what Jacob is supposed to have done in the midnight experience described in this chapter we must do if we are in earnest about spiritual blessing. The assumption in most minds appears
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to be that Jacob's view of the nature of God was the same as ours, and that when he was wrestling he was really praying with all his might. Robert-son, of Brighton, has a great sermon on the subject, in w^hich this interpretation of the story is taken for granted all the way through, and a valuable spiritual lesson deduced therefrom. Only a month ago I heard a sermon myself in which the same thing was not only taken for granted but plainly stated by the preacher, and a very good sermon it was too. In thus pointing out the homiletical use to which this ancient story has been put, I am very far from wishing to suggest that the results have not been good and useful in their place, but what I wish to insist upon is that in the light of modern biblical scholarship no such interpretation is war-ranted. We do not lose anything by knowing this. We never do lose anything by facing the truth, and to do so in this instance will certainly repay us. Observe, then, to begin with, how obscure is the reference to Jacob's adversary. Our text says that ** there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day." Was this man God? If so, how anthropomorphic the whole story becomes ! We
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