Genesis 32:22 begins the story of Jacob returning to Canaan. Jacob was alone on the banks of the Jabbok river, worrying about his upcoming meeting with Esau, the brother he betrayed. An “man” appeared and wrestled with Jacob.
Jacob has lived largely by his wits, winning some and losing some. God had promised to bless him, but he continued to struggle. Now, Jacob seems to wrestle with a man who is God. And this time, he is determined to cling to God. He refuses to let go until God blesses him.
God did bless Jacob. But he changed him, too. He changed his name from Jacob to Israel, from “trickster” to “struggles with God”. He marks him physically, damaging his hip so that he walked with a limp. And, finally, Jacob starts to live as God’s man.
Jacob lived in God’s blessing. His new name, Israel, became the name of the nation of his descendants. He became great. But he also became different. He abandons tricks for dependence on God. When his sons trick the men of Shechem, Jacob condemns their actions. On his death bed he, in effect, curses them. (Genesis 49)
Those who live for God are changed. They are marked by their relationship to God. If not changed, they are not God’s.