“What Is Your Name?”

Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.—Genesis 32:24

The way in which God helped Jacob to be rid of his spirit of demandingness is revealing—”a man wrestled with him until daybreak.” Like the hound of heaven, the love of God pursued him down the years, awaiting the hour when he would be ready to admit that he was beaten.

This man (probably an angelic representative) wrestled with him until Jacob’s strength was diminished, at which point he asked him: “What is your name?” To us it seems a simple question, but in those days one’s name was the expression of one’s character; if the character changed, the name was changed. So Jacob, after a tremendous struggle, made the crucial confession: “My name is Jacob—the supplanter,” he sobbed. The depths were uncovered. Jacob’s heart was naked before God. The real problem was identified.

If you have not reached this place in your spiritual experience, I suggest you stop everything and tell God your name. You might have to confess: “My name is Demandingness; I insist on having my own way in everything.” This may be hard to say, but get it out no matter what the cost, for there will be no new name until you say the old name.

The saying of the old name is a confession, a catharsis. When Jacob said his name, the angel said: “Your name will no longer be Jacob … It will be Israel” (v. 28)—a striver with God. The new nation of Israel would be named for this crooked man made straight. Jacob was buried; Israel was alive forevermore.


God, help me to tell You my name—my real name. Help me to dodge no longer; the game is up. Take out of me the spirit of demandingness. Change my name and change my character. Save me from myself. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Further Study

1Jn 1:1-9; Ezr 10:11; 2Sm 12:13

What are we to do with our sin?

How did Nathan respond to David?

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