What is your name?

Identity  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Looking at the moment that Jacob wrestled with God and had his name changed to Israel. We will discuss the significance of our names and regardless of our name, what does God call us?



New Series: Identity
discovering who we are at our core
– who has the most nick names?
– who has an embarrassing nick name?


Tonight we will look at a guy who had two names…but the greater question is…what defined him?
Who are you? Answer WITHOUT using your name, job, friends/social group, accomplishments?
the real goal here is to figure out after all the labels are stripped from you…how do you fit into the puzzle of the kingdom of God?
(notice its not about fitting into the world)

Jacob’s Story

Family History

Parents: Isaac & Rebekah
Twin Brother: Esau
stole his brother’s birthright for a bowl of soup
stole his brother’s blessing from his father

Fleeing to Uncle Laban

After stealing Esau’s blessing, Jacob flees to his Uncle Laban
Jacob marries both of Laban’s daughters and builds up significant wealth for Laban

Separating from Laban

Jacob and his wives have several children
Jacob and his family parts ways with Laban and begin their own life

Jacob fears Esau

Thinking all was good, Jacob realizes he’s about to run into his brother Esau
The last time he saw Esau he was stealing his blessing.
Jacob comes up with a terrible plan that basically put his servants and family at the front of the caravan, while keeping himself in the back.
That night, Jacob get’s a visit from God...


Genesis 32:24–30 ESV
24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

God Encounter

Jacob gets alone
Jacob wrestles with God
Genesis 2. A Man Wrestles with Jacob (24–25)

Jacob didn’t start out wanting anything from God; God wanted something from him. God wanted all of Jacob’s proud self-reliance and fleshly scheming and came to take it, by force if necessary.

God asks Jacob what his name is
Jacob’s name was given by his parents, but God wants to change what man has called him
Jacob’s name is changed to Israel
Jacob = heel grabber
Israel = strives with God; prince with God

What Changed

Jacob names that place, Peniel (the face of God)
Jacob now leaves with a permanent limp
Jacob is still called, Jacob


God calls out to Jacob to meet again...
Genesis 35:1–3 ESV
1 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. 3 Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”

Step 1: Clean House

Jacob is instructed by God to get rid of anything in his household that is unclean
Before God can pour vision & purpose into you, you have to clean out your vessel
Cup full of dirt - can’t fill your cup with water if your cup is full of dirt.
Jacob is also instructed to change his garments.
Garments represented character in those days. God was preparing him for a character change.
Genesis 35:7 ESV
7 and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother.
Jacob sets up an altar to God
Altars exists to offer sacrifice & worship
The beginning of discovering who you are starts with forgetting what you think you know about yourself.
Do you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?
– Charles Burkowski
Genesis 35:9–13 ESV
9 God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” 13 Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him.

Step 2: Listen & Wait

Jacob waits and God shows up
God starts off the same, changing his name from Jacob to Israel
Adding, a blessing to Israel this time

Step 3: Gratitude

Israel (Jacob), offers up a drink offering and pours oil on the altar
Reaffirms that this place is called, Bethel (house of God)


Jacob was reminded of his God-given identity after he tried to make his own and failed
In order to step into your God-given identity, you have to surrender your own desires.
Key Verse:
Galatians 4:7 NLT
7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
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