Vayishlach – וישלח : “And he sent”
Thought for the Week
Jacob wrestles with the Angel of the LORD through the night. The angel asks him, “What is your name?” As Jacob holds on to the man with all his strength, he answers, “Yaakov” meaning “Heel-grabber.” The name is a reference to his talent for not letting go. It is a wrestling name. Then the man said, “Your name shall no longer be Yaakov, but Yisrael (ישראל); for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed” (32:28). The name Israel means “overcomer.”
In the book of Revelation, the Master describes Israel in terms of those who overcome. The ones who overcome are the ones given eternal life, paradise, a new name (like Jacob who became Israel), white garments, a place in the Book of Life, a place beside the throne of Messiah, and sonship. In short, the overcomers are the saved. They are the redeemed:
In one sense, these are disheartening words. Each one of us, if we are honest, knows that if fully tested, we could not overcome. We are creatures of such frailty; we could not hope to overcome. But we can learn a lesson from Jacob. To overcome does not mean we must conquer; it does not mean we have to pin God to the ground. All that Jacob did was hold on. He would not let God go. Neither can we let go of Him. We don’t actually need to overcome as long as we hold on to the overcomer. We must hold fast to Him who has overcome the world. “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome…” (Revelation 5:5).
The writer of the Book of Hebrews says that, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Jacob was sure of what he hoped for. “Bless me!” he said to the angel. Faith is the conviction of things not seen. Are we certain of what we do not see? Jacob was. Even in the dark, he held on all night long. That is faith. It is the triumph of faith. It is the faith of our father Jacob. It is his legacy to us, our spiritual inheritance, and the inheritance of Israel.