Jacob was a master deceiver. He conned his brother Esau into selling his birthright to him, and then he stole Esau’s blessing. In Genesis 32:22-32, Jacob has an encounter with God as he is on his way to meet Esau for the first time since he stole his blessing. Hearing that Esau was on his way with an army of 400 men, Jacob planned to send gifts ahead of him and divide his household into groups so that he would have a way of retaining at least some of his servants and possessions if Esau attacked.
During the night, Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions.
This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
“What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.”
“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
“Please tell me your name,” Jacob said.
“Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.
Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip. (Even today the people of Israel don’t eat the tendon near the hip socket because of what happened that night when the man strained the tendon of Jacob’s hip.)
The notes for verse 31 in the NLT Study Bible say, “God injured Jacob’s hip, thus curtailing his proud self-sufficiency. Since the Lord had restricted his natural strength, Jacob would have to rely on the Lord with greater faith. He had thought that returning to his land would be a matter of outwitting his brother once again, but here at the land’s threshold he met its true proprietor. He would get the land, but only if God fought for him. Self-sufficiency – trying to achieve the blessing by our own strength or by the ways of the world – will not suffice. If we persist, God may have to cripple our self-sufficiency to make us trust him more.”
At least on the surface if not internally, Jahar appears fairly proud and self-sufficient……fully believing that bombing the Marathon was the right thing to do…..that it was pleasing to Allah. Jahar was actively and physically fighting for another god. But the truly incredible part of the story is that despite the fact that Jahar was and may still be fighting for a false God………..the one true God of the universe is fighting for him! The Creator God fought for him that night in the boat and shielded his body from those bullets to keep him alive. His Father continues to fight for him by calling his people around the world to intercede on his behalf. And we can’t even begin to have a clue of what He continues to do each and every day to fight for Jahar to be His. How awesome and beautiful is it that we serve a God who is actively fighting for the heart of someone who is actively fighting AGAINST Him?
Although obviously different from Jacob in many ways – Jahar was similarly trying to achieve blessing and the ability to go to Jannah (heaven) through his own works and self-sufficiency. My hope is that in his present darkness, he will meet the one true God. My prayer is that hitting rock bottom will cause him to trust in the Jesus who is hopefully revealing Himself to him and calling his name. Jahar WILL get to heaven – not because of anything he did or didn’t do, but because our God is fighting for him……and our God is stronger.