Our discussion on How To Make God Change Your name yesterday dwelt on Abraham, our father of faith. Abraham, as seen yesterday, displayed two major characters which made God changed his name from Abram to Abraham. The changed name moved Abraham from “Father of Nation” to “Father of Multitudes”. The two major characters of Abraham which changed his name were “absolute believing in God and unchanging obedience to God. Our discussion today centers on Jacob and what he did that made God changed his name. Every Christian knows that Jacob initially means “Supplanter” which some Bible teachers say is “a fastest cheat.” Jacob, from the beginning lived by manipulating people to have his ways up. He played on Esau to get the Birthright. He played on his father-In-Law to have many livestock.
As many years as Jacob was living the meaning of his name Jacob, he was progressing with struggling and difficulties. He worked for 14 years for the choice of his wife. His father-in-law reduced his wage downward six times. With all his hard labour trying to survive the intrigues of Laban, the brother-in-Laws hated him for taking their entire father’s wealth. He could not move downward to his family community for fear of Esau for many years. He however, had two encounters with God that changed his name. Out of fear, he fought with God and prevailed. This wrestling made God changed his name from Jacob to “Israel” meaning “struggled with God and with Human beings and overcome” (Gen. 32: 28). His second encounter that God still announced his name as “Israel” was when he obediently obeyed God’s instruction to go back to Bethel to offer sacrifice to God as he promised when running to Laban (Gen. 3: 1).
The two episode about Jacob’s change of name show that if we can endure hard times, struggle with unseen forces with determination positively God will change our names for good. With all the fear of Esau which strengthened Jacob to struggle with the Angel of God, he still knows how to key into opportuned time that will give him what he wants. When the Angel of God begged him to let Him go, Jacob told the Angel that not until he was blessed by the Angel, he would not let Him go. If we can have our faith eyes opened even at our most pressing moment, we can discover when God will ask: “What will you want me do for you now”. When Jacob agreed to go to Bethel for the sacrifice, he did something very significant. He asked his family members to sanctified themselves and burn off all the earrings, necklaces and other jewelries dedicated to the gods of Laban. Everyone in his house did that. After the sacrifices at Bethel, God appeared to him in the night and re-emphasized that Jacob’s new name still remains Israel (Gen. 35: 9 – 10). Any of us who want God to change his/her name must faithfully sanctify himself/herself. We are to constantly stay away from sins and secret worshipping of idols.
Pray and ask God to bestow His grace upon you so as to have the later grace of Jacob. Ask the Holy Spirit to grant you enabling power to remain sanctified for God and Jesus Christ.