So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” Gen 32:30
Peniel means face of God. Jacob was considered a deceiver. He deceived Esau and got the first born right. He also deceived Isaac and got the blessings from him leaving nothing for Esau. But later in his life we see that there was waiting another greater deceiver than Jacob to deceive him, his uncle Laban. Laban deceived Jacob by switching Leah for Rachael and made him work another 7 yrs. He changed his wages 10 times deceivingly. Jacob had met his match and had had enough.
He wanted to return to his family. To his brother and ask for his forgiveness. He remembers God's promise to him and his vision at Bethel. He takes up his belongings, his cattle, his children and wives that God had given and starts out to meet Esau. When the time came near to meet Esau, he sent his family and the gifts but he himself stayed back. He wanted to be sure what he was going to do was right. Just wanted assurance from God. So he stayed back. Fear of Esau was gripping him.
There is a story of a little girl who was celebrating her birthday. Her parents got her a lovely pink frock with beautiful beads on it. She was so happy about that. She had a box full of chocolates for her friends. She sings happily and runs to her neighbours to give away the chocolates. She sees her friends and is very happy and starts to play with them. Time passes by and it becomes dark soon. She then realizes that she has strayed far from her house. She turns to return. It is dark every where. She is scared now.
All the happiness she found in her dress and chocolates has left her. She is no more happy that she is wearing a new pink frock nor the chocolates she has is making her happy. All she wants is get back to her mother's arms. Fear of being lost has taken away her happiness. Finally after walking and running in the dark she manages to find her home and her mother waiting for her worriedly. She runs to her and embraces her. What a Joy!! It is the same with many of us, we are lost in this world but when we find God's face we are like that child who found the mother.
Jacob was not happy at this point with the livestock and his family that he had got after all these years. He just wanted to see God and get his blessing. Many of us are like that, all that we have earned in this world will not keep us happy unless we see the face of God!
We read that Jacob wrestles with a man through out the night and overcomes. The deceiver has now become the overcomer. Jacob now becomes Israel. What a change!! He wrestles with God and changes his future. He gets the assurance from God himself. He sees the face of God!
Many of us would be in such a situation. Many of us would have been deceivers and many of us would have been deceived too. All of us will come to the place of Peniel in our lives at some point. We need to look into the face of God and repent and receive his blessing for us to go on. If we miss that point then the fear of man will consume us and we will not receive God's blessing. Seek his face every day and receive from him the strength and wisdom needed to go through that day.
No disaster came upon Jacob alias Israel from that day on. He was blessed as God said he would be. God will bless you too. He knows what you need and will make all things happen for us. All we need to do is seek his face and overcome all our fears by his grace and strength.
By Carolyn Thomas