Vayishlach – וישלח : “And he sent”
Torah : Genesis 32:4-36:43
Haftarah : Hosea 11:7-12:12
Gospel : John 1:19-2:12
Jacob wrestles with the Angel of the LORD through the night. The angel asks him, “What is your name?” As Jacob holds on to the man with all his strength, he answers, “Yaakov” meaning “Heel-grabber.” The name is a reference to his talent for not letting go. It is a wrestling name. Then the man said, “Your name shall no longer be Yaakov, but Yisrael (ישראל); for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed” (32:28). The name Israel means “overcomer.”
In the book of Revelation, the Master describes Israel in terms of those who overcome. The ones who overcome are the ones given eternal life, paradise, a new name (like Jacob who became Israel), white garments, a place in the Book of Life, a place beside the throne of Messiah, and sonship. In short, the overcomers are the saved. They are the redeemed:
- To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)
- He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2:11)
- To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it. (Revelation 2:17)
- He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, ‘To him I will give authority over the nations…’ (Revelation 2:26)
- He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (Revelation 3:5)
- He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. (Revelation 3:12)
- He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:21)
- He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. (Revelation 21:7)
In one sense, these are disheartening words. Each one of us, if we are honest, knows that if fully tested, we could not overcome. We are creatures of such frailty; we could not hope to overcome. But we can learn a lesson from Jacob. To overcome does not mean we must conquer; it does not mean we have to pin God to the ground. All that Jacob did was hold on. He would not let God go. Neither can we let go of Him. We don’t actually need to overcome as long as we hold on to the overcomer. We must hold fast to Him who has overcome the world. “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome…” (Revelation 5:5).
The writer of the Book of Hebrews says that, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Jacob was sure of what he hoped for. “Bless me!” he said to the angel. Faith is the conviction of things not seen. Are we certain of what we do not see? Jacob was. Even in the dark, he held on all night long. That is faith. It is the triumph of faith. It is the faith of our father Jacob. It is his legacy to us, our spiritual inheritance, and the inheritance of Israel.