I don't know the amount of people that are handling the promises of God that were given to Israel as promises to them. Wikipedia shows me that as of 2012, Christianity is the religion of one-third of the world's population -- that's a couple billion people that are taking promises given to Israel as theirs. However, knowing that the Bible's covenantal promises are for Israel, and that Israel is most certainly not replaced with Christians as the spiritual Israel, many of us are left with the question of who is Israel? It only seems logical that the answer to that question would be in our parsha, where we have an experience of a man who became Israel and why/how he became this recipient of Covenant and many promises.
And Jacob was left alone. And a Man wrestled with him until the ascending of the dawn. And He saw that He did not prevail over him, and He struck his hip-socket, and Jacob's hip-socket was unhinged as he grappled with Him. And He said, Send me away, for the dawn has risen. And he said, I will not let You go unless You bless me. -- Genesis 32:24-26
When I researched the hip-socket, there are two words being used to pinpoint this body part. The first word is referring to an extremity (like a leaf to a branch, paw to a hand) and a bowl. It is like a hand, which can cup into a bowl. The second word is the fleshly part of the loin. So then the word hip-socket comes to the translators, because the hip is a fleshly part of the loin and the socket is a bowl. The text says that the man's striking unhinged this fleshly bowl. The Hebrew tells us this is a severing. So then we get a picture of the man severing Jacob's flesh and Jacob is still holding onto Him. Beloved Reader, from the looks of seeing many fall away from just the slightest transformations, we can honestly say that not very many people can sit around and let God sever their flesh while they hold onto Him for dear life.
And He said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob. And He said, Your name no longer shall be called Jacob, but Israel, because you have persevered with God and with men and have been able. -- Genesis 32:27-28
This incident birthed Jacob. Jacob remained through the severing, holding on until the dawn and until the blessing. Through this tiny bit, I relate to the teachings of many well-studied preachers and Messianic rabbis I know who often say that salvation is the end result. Endurance and perseverance is a must to attain it. Jacob remained. Jacob was a symbol of the remnant, primarily remaining faithful in His attachment to God through the severing of the flesh. This is a lifelong process and the smallest denials for God to transform us reveal much of our character and who we are (or are not) spiritually.
The man we all understand to be God. We understand this because there is an image Jacob saw and He calls that image God:
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, Because I saw God face to face and my life is preserved. -- Genesis 32:30, A Literal Translation of the Bible
It sounds a lot like the experience Moses had with God. In fact, the Bible says that God did speak to Moses face to face, as Jacob saw Him even here. Yet, we know that the exclusively express manly image of God is fully in Yeshua. So then, who did Jacob (and Moses, and any other OT prophet/saint who experienced God) see? Jacob saw Yeshua.
I have noticed God's response to the OT prophets/saints when they ask Him to reveal Himself or His Name. To Jacob, He didn't answer but asked him why he wants to know. To Moses, He said you cannot see me and live but I will let you see my "after" (we get behind/back from this) parts -- this is very interesting to study, because the Hebrew word means not just after but "in time." Moses then saw God's "in time" parts, and God in the realm of time is Yeshua. God outside of time is the invisible God we cannot see. Moses saw Yeshua. To Manoah He said His name is "Secret." Some translators translate it as "Wonderful," and this is because it is the same root word as found in Isaiah 9:6 describing the Messiah as "Wonderful." Manoah saw Yeshua, but it is secret because He has yet to be manifested by birth through a woman. The God of the Old Testament is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and His image is Yeshua.
It is not completely impossible to believe Jacob encountered Yeshua, as he has seen Yeshua before. In the first revelation he had with God (chapter 28), Jacob lays his head on a stone and has a vision of a ladder reaching to heaven, messengers descending and ascending. Jacob then takes the stone and pours oil over it and sets it up as a pillar. When I studied the Hebrew, I found it very interesting that the way the stone is written in the Hebrew -- et ha aven, one literal translation could be "you, the stone." So then, the stone is not an "it" (third person case), but in the second person to tell us that Jacob took 'You, the Stone,' that he had put as his Head and set it as a pillar in the place of this encounter. We will get to "in the place" below. Then it says that he poured oil on it ("it" has a pronoun change to a female) and called the place the House of God (Bethel). What is hidden here is a house of God in the feminine, from this Stone...and what does this all mean?
Well, in this parsha we come to an encounter that almost mirrors. Jacob returns to Bethel after his meeting with his brother. In the same place called Bethel, there's a pillar set up, and oil poured on. However, there are some changes to the text from the first encounter as well as an additional thing that was added.
And Jacob set up a memorial pillar in the place where He had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. And he poured a drink offering on it, and he poured oil on it. And Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel. -- Genesis 35:14-15In both instances we have a term "in the place." In the place, Jacob saw God's messenger going up and down, but also in the place Jacob sees God Himself (Genesis 28: 13) as Yeshua, the Stone. It was like a treasure hidden to see that the place is the Hebrew makom -- not any other word that could mean place or land (like eretz). Kom is a rising, and adding the mem in front tells us this is a place of rising. It is the place of resurrection! Here, at the place of resurrection, Jacob sees descending and ascending. Fast forward to when Yeshua tells us in John 3:13 that no man can ascend into heaven except he who first descends (speaking of Himself). It is the same terminology used to describe what Jacob saw, in a place called the resurrection. Jacob saw the resurrection in his vision!
So he comes back to this place of resurrection, Bethel, and almost mirrors what he did the first time around, with some exceptions. The second time he pours a drink offering, which is missing on the first encounter he had with Yeshua. Also in the text I noted an even bigger change -- the pillar and the action to pour are both with feminine endings, and the pillar of stone from the first sentence in 35:14 is actually the feminine plural pillars. So when I read the text with its feminine direction, I read, "And Jacob set up a (feminine) pillar in the place where He/God spoke with him, pillars of stone. And he poured on her a drink offering and he poured on her oil." The first stone in the place of resurrection is none other than our Firstfruit of the resurrection, Yeshua, and by this Stone a house of God is built which is feminine. The feminine is revealed in the second Bethel encounter, where the stone is actually more than one (see Revelation 3:12) and it is the church, with the drink offering as the blood of Yeshua poured on her. By Yeshua, we are now temples of the living God, the habitation of His Spirit, the Bethel. He is seen in the place of resurrection first, because He is the first fruit of it. She follows, as we will resurrect even as He did.
What does it mean to be Israel? One must strive and overcome, be severed from flesh yet still hold on and remain through the darkness of the night and the Day of the Lord until the bright dawn. One must be the habitation of the Spirit. One must be in Covenant, which has the promises so dearly desired, and which is only through Yeshua. And just as we follow His resurrection, one must follow His walk.
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