Jacob wrestles with God

Jacob Wrestles with God Object Lesson

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Wrestling with God. Fighting with God. Everyone does it. And everyone will encounter God at some point in their lives. This Jacob Wrestles with God Object Lesson will help children to understand that we must surrender our sinful lives to then be blessed with eternal life.

Jacob Wrestles with God

Scripture Focus: Genesis 32

Materials: Container, water, cornstarch, towels {To make Oobleck: 1 cup of water to 1.5-2 cups of cornstarch. Put the water in the container. Slowly add the cornstarch. Mixing can be tricky. Oobleck has the properties of solids and liquids. You can punch it and it feels solid. If you slowly put your hand on it, it will sink into the material. Add cornstarch until you can do this. You’ll probably have to mix with your hands.}

Geography: Jabbok River; land of Israel

Background: Jacob has been in Haran at his Uncle Laban’s house for 20 years. Jacob now has 2 wives and 11 children. Jacob was extremely nervous about meeting his brother after tricking him years before.

Names are very important in the Bible. Many times parents chose to wait a few days to give their children names. Names were to be a reflection of the person’s character or personality. Jacob’s name meant “Deceiver.” When in a battle, it was a form of surrender to state your name to the opposition.

Object Lesson for Jacob Wrestles with God:

{Open the container of Oobleck. Shake it slightly and ask:}

  • What is this stuff? Is this a liquid? [The kids may already be familiar with Oobleck. Continue to describe the characteristics of the material as you punch it and pick it up allowing it to dribble from your hand. If you have a small number of students, allow them to manipulate it.]

Oobleck can be described as a solid AND a liquid. It can be hard and runny, but it is still called Oobleck. Oobleck is the name of this material. If you punch it, it seems to be solid, but if you scoop come into your hand, the Oobleck softens and pours out.

Jacob Wrestles with God

Jacob Wrestles with God

Jacpb Wrestles with God

Bible Lesson for Jacob Wrestles with God:

{For older children, have them read Genesis 32:3-32.}

Jacob, the Deceiver, was on his way home from Haran. While at Uncle Laban’s house he had acquired great wealth, but was still scared to face his past. He had sent scouts to see if Esau was near. They returned and told him that Esau was going to meet him with 400 men.

Jacob was scared. He prayed to God to deliver him from Esau. When he reached the Jabbok River, Jacob sent a huge gift of camels, donkeys, cows, and sheep on ahead to Esau in the hopes that it might soften Esau’s heart towards him. Then Jacob decided to send his wives and children over the river to meet Esau and maybe they would soften Esau’s heart as well. He was going to follow behind. He was acting like a coward.

Jacob stayed behind as night fell. He was alone. Then a Man appeared and wrestled with Jacob. Jacob wrestled until morning. When the Man saw that Jacob was not going to quit, He touched Jacob’s hip socket and made it fall out of joint. Jacob wrestled on. The Man said, “Let me go!” Jacob, who probably knew by now Who he was wrestling with replied, “Not until You bless me!” The Man asked, “What is your name?” At this point Jacob surrendered. “Jacob.” Deceiver! The Man replied, ” Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel!” (Israel means God Fights.)

This was a life-changing event for Jacob and so he renamed the place where this encounter took place. He named it “Peniel” because he had seen God face to face and his life was spared.

Jacob limped across the river and then moved to the front of the family and possessions. He was a changed man. Jacob met Esau first, instead of going behind his family. Esau ran to Jacob and they both wept, kissed, and hugged. Jacob walked with a limp the rest of his life.

Life Application of Jacob Wrestles with God:

This physical event in Jacob’s life reflects the spiritual events in our lives.

{As you work through this exercise with the children, have them tell you the facts of the story and then add how it reflects our spiritual transformation from sin to a new creation. Ask:}

  • What was Jacob doing? [Going back home]
  • What was he feeling? Why? [Scared, because he had tricked Esau out of the blessing and birthright. Esau had wanted to kill him.]
  • What did Jacob pray? [Lord, deliver me.]
  • What does this mean? [Save me.]

Jacob was greatly afraid because he had stolen the blessing and birthright from Esau. Jacob had been his own master instead of allowing God to give him the blessing. He knew that Esau wanted to kill him. You are born into sin. You like to be your own master. But at some point you recognize that you aren’t perfect or in charge of life and that can make you afraid. Jacob prayed to God asking Him to deliver him, to save him. People pray to God when they are scared. Maybe you have, too. We want Him to save us from what is happening.

  • When did a Man come and fight Jacob? [at night when Jacob was alone]
  • What did the Man want Jacob to do and how did Jacob respond? [The Man wanted him to let go, and Jacob told him not until He blessed him.]
  • What did the Man do to Jacob? [Touched his hip socket and made him go lame.]

Jacob was alone in the dark. At some point, you must understand that your life is your own. Your decisions are your own. You don’t live for your parents, or a brother or sister, or a friend. Your life is your life. You sin is your sin. Jacob wrestled with a Man and would not let go until he was blessed. If you haven’t already, you will encounter God. He will call you to Himself. You can either wrestle with Him, or you can walk away.

Jesus is holy, perfect, and powerful. You are sinful and broken. When you are your own master, then you are fighting against God.

  • How did the Man bless Jacob? [Gave him the new name of Israel.]
  • What happened when the sun rose? [Jacob crossed the river.]

The Man asked Jacob his name at the end of the fight. Jacob told his name in surrender. When you ask God to forgive you and confess your sins to Him, then you are recognizing that God is in charge. You surrender to Him. Jesus becomes your Master.

The Man gave Jacob a new name: Israel, which means, “God Fights”. When you encounter Jesus, believing that He saves you from your sin, and you confess with your mouth that He is Lord, the He turns you into a new creation.

The sun rose and Jacob crossed over into the Promise Land. Jesus is the Light of the World. When you believe in Him, you enter into eternal life.

  • What did Jacob call the place where he wrestled with the Man? [Peniel, which means I have seen God face to face, and my life is spared.]
  • Did Jacob’s hip ever heal? [No, he walked with a limp.]
  • Did Jacob make peace with Esau? [Yes, read a little into chapter 33]
  • Who do you think “The Man” was? [No one really knows. It could have been an angel, but because of what Jacob names the place, I think he wrestled with Jesus.]

Jacob named the place Peniel because he had seen God face to face, and his life had been protected. When you are saved from your sin, write down the date because that was when you encountered God and He protected your life from eternal death.

Jacob limped for the rest of his life. Even though you are saved from sin and have God as your Master, you will still sin. However, “God Fights” for you and the Holy Spirit will guide you if you listen. You can overcome sin and temptation and become more like Jesus.

{Show the Oobleck.}

This Oobleck can be hard and solid, but when it is picked up and in my hand, it becomes flexible. It changes. When we encounter God, we have hard-hearts and we want to be totally in charge of our lives. But if we allow God to touch us, He will change us if we allow Him. Like Jacob, we will never be the same again. If we stay in the hand of God, and listen to the Holy Spirit, then our lives will bring much joy and pleasure to God and ourselves. Instead of being hard-hearted, in God’s hand we become usable, flexible, and able to glorify God.

Other Resources on Jacob:








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