Abraham, Isaac, and… Israel?

Do you remember that great passage in the Bible where God names Abraham? The name was given to him as a promise: “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham for I have made you a father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:5) From that moment on, there is no mention of Abram and Sarai. They have been completely replaced by Abraham and Sarah.

Now skip forward several chapters to where Abraham’s grandson has a similar experience. “Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.'” (Genesis 32:28) Strangely enough, the first two words in the very next verse are, “Jacob said.” Twenty-five mentions of the name Jacob later, God appears to him once more and declares his name to be Israel. (Genesis 35:10) I don’t think Jacob ever fully claims that promise. Want to know why? I counted the number of times Jacob and Israel were mentioned throughout the remaining chapters of Genesis. Israel is named 30 times, but Jacob comes in first place with 46. That whisper of a promise was there the whole time, resurfacing every once in awhile, but in the end it seems that Jacob couldn’t rid himself of the title “Deceiver” and to this day, Yahweh is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The promise was seemingly not claimed by Jacob, but it was handed down to his children nonetheless as they call themselves the nation of Israel.

My point is: God has promises for you if only you are willing to claim them. Are you willing, like Abraham, to step out into the unknown, trusting that God’s Mighty Hand will guide you? Or will you fluctuate tenaciously back and forth as did Jacob – er, Israel? I pray that you would find the courage to embrace the promises God has for you. May you step out and be willing to change so that you may accept the full extent of God’s blessing.

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