Series: General | Title: God Always Wins the Wrestling Match | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday, October 1, 2017
In a wrestling match there are many winning or scoring opportunities, out of them let us talk about four major ones as we saw in the video.
1. Take-down: A move that players take during the match to take their opponent down to the mat and gain control from the neutral position so 2 points will be scored for take-down.
2. Escape: A move, you use from the bottom of the referee’s position to escape, or get away from your opponent. So 1 point will be scored for escape.
3. Reversal: A move during which you quickly turn the tables and go from being in a position of defense to being in a position of control as the offensive wrestler. So 2 points will be scored for reversal.
4. Near fall: 2 points if you hold your opponent for two seconds and 3 points if you hold your opponent for five seconds.
These are different scoring opportunities in a wrestling match.
- In our life, at times we wrestle with God to fulfill our desires.
- God wrestles with us to fulfill his plan in our lives.
- But the truth is “God always wins the wrestling match”
That is the title of my sermon this morning “God always wins the wrestling match”.
Pastor Daniel Parkins says “I still remember holding him in my arms after he had passed away. He was 19 days old and a birth defect was the malady that raged against my little son. I wrestled with God till the very end, even blowing in his lungs to revive him after he died.” He was praying for his healing. Wrestling with God. God always wins the wrestling match.
Nine-year-old Sarah Tapley, was diagnosed with cancer in September 2009. After several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation Sarah went to be with the Lord on November 29, 2012 in Grimsby, Ontario. Later Sarah’s dad, Rev. Matt Tapley says “I am thankful for the 11¾ years that I had with Sarah. She has a piece of my heart that no other person will ever have and she is part of me that is already in eternity. Sarah has brought me closer to Heaven than I ever dreamt possible”. A 3 year long wrestling with the Lord for Sarah’s life has come to an end. God won the match. God always wins the wrestling match.
I was listening to Michelle Qureshi, wife of late Nabeel Qureshi, she was sharing about the glorious end of her husband Nabeel after enduring a yearlong battle with cancer. She mentioned about the wrestling she had with the Lord since the time he was diagnosed with cancer. Later when Nabeel was hospitalized her wrestling with God continued. When Nabeel was moved to palliative care, Michelle says, wrestling with God was intensified. When she realized that Nabeel’s life on this earth has come to an end, she was wrestling with God for resurrection of his body for 7 days before he was actually buried, based on the Biblical grounds. But at the end God won the match. God always wins the wrestling match.
May it be healing, may it be in sickness, may it be death, may it be resurrection. God always wins the wrestling match.
In a wrestling match there are many winning or scoring opportunities out of them we are going to talk again 3 of them in detail. (Take-down, Escape & Reversal)
A move during which you take your opponent down to the mat or to the ground to gain control from the neutral position. 2 points will be given for take-down.
I think about the life of Jacob in the Bible, son of Isaac and the brother of Esau.
- Jacob as the name goes, he cheated his brother and took his birth right as we know and he also received the blessings from Isaac. Cheated everybody. He was a cheater, he was a liar. So Esau hated Jacob very much and he wanted to kill Jacob. Jacob was running around for his life and he decided, it is better to go away from Esau so that he cannot find him.
- Jacob decided to go to Laban to his uncle.
- There Jacob was cheated by Laban and Laban made him to work for him for 20 long years.
- Now Jacob wanted to meet Esau. He was really scared to death. He was not sure how he is going to face his brother because he knew very well that his brother is so angry with him.
- He sent a messenger to Esau and he sent donkeys, oxen, flocks, male servants and female servants to obtain favor from Esau. He sent everything to Esau thinking that Esau will show favor over him and the messengers came back to Jacob, telling, Esau is on his way to meet him.
- Jacob was really scared to death. He was not sure how he is going to face Esau because he knew very well that Esau is going to kill him.
- Jacob collected whatever he could get in his hands and put everything together as a present again, to sent it to Esau. He also sent his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons across the river.
- Jacob was just sitting near river Jabbok, all alone at the end of the day.
- Later on that day, Bible says a Man (later on we come to realization, he’s not just an ordinary man, he’s Son of God) came and wrestled with Jacob. They were having a wrestling match there (Jacob and Lord Jesus). It was pre-incarnate Jesus in the old testament. He appeared too many times to many different people and now he appeared in front of Jacob.
- How long the wrestling went on? Bible says, until the break of the day. Break to the day means until you see sun. The whole night the wrestling was going on between the God almighty and Jacob. God wrestled with Jacob and God (Jesus) could not win wrestling with Jacob. Finally as he could not win wrestling with Jacob, Jesus touched the socket of his hip and the socket of Jacob’s hip came out of joint. Jacob could not walk anymore.
- Jacob was totally taken down to the ground by God almighty.
Genesis 32:22-29 22 And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. 23 He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. 24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” 27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but [i]Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” 31 Just as he crossed over Peniel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.
Here we see in the wrestling match, God bring Jacob down to the ground. There are couple of truths, this morning I pray that God may open our eyes. God always wins the wrestling match.
- Jacob was a liar and a cheater. Cheating everybody and then escaping from the scene, that’s was his plan. He thought he can wrestle with God and bring him on his way. The reason for whole night fight was going on there, that, Jacob was thinking, he can wrestle with God and make him somehow to bless him. Make him to somehow protect him from hands of Esau. That was the plan of Jacob. With that plan he was wrestling with God.
- God was dealing with Jacob gently. At times in our life, we try to escape from the situation. We try to do something else so that danger may not come upon us. We may not take the risk anymore. We try to escape at times from the presence of the God. But God is not angry at those times with us. God was not angry with Jacob in fact. If God would have been angry with Jacob, he would have been brought him down right there but God was very gentle wrestling with Jacob all over the night.
- Do you think that Jesus could not overcome Jacob? Jesus would not have enough power to overcome Jacob? I don’t think so. Sometimes when we walk away from God, we think that God is still good. Yes, God is good but that doesn’t guarantee that we are walking closer to God. God being a blessing in our life doesn’t guarantee that we are doing good with the God. Receiving multiple blessings one after another doesn’t guarantee that we are doing good with the God. That’s not the measure.
- God was expecting him to surrender. That was the only expectation that Jesus had on that night as he was wrestling with Jacob. God found he was fighting with the God till morning over the night, still he was not surrendering. Have you come across such times in our lives, when we pray and we fast, pray days after days but we would have not come to that point of surrender? Nothing will happen. God wants us to come to that level of surrender. That’s what God was expecting in the life of Jacob and since he could not overcome, that means since he was not surrendering, God decided to touch him. One gentle touch was enough for Jacob, to bring him down.
- This morning God is telling you, there are times when we don’t seek God. There are times when we don’t follow God, still we see things happening because God is being so considerate in our lives. He is so gentle in our lives.
- We can never wrestle with God, because he’s powerful. We are so little and powerless in front of God. We can never wrestle and win the match.
- Bible says Jacob overcame. Jacob win the wrestling match. What does it mean? It means Jacob brought him to total surrender so that God can put him down. The victory belongs to God always. What was the victory God gained on that day? The victory God gained on that day was bringing Jacob to complete surrender.
- He said, bless me Lord and God said, you are no more a deceiver. You are Israel. You are “Triumphant with God“. You are victor. You are no more a cheater. You are not a liar anymore . That’s the blessing that God can give us when we bring our lives to total surrender in the presence of God. When God blessed him, the past completely wiped away. There are new things started happening in the life of Jacob because he turned to be a blessing. He had to be blessed anyway because God promised Abraham that I will bless your descents and that blessing has to come through Jacob. But it was not happening in his life because he was not bringing everything to total surrender.
This morning God is telling us, its not enough, what we surrender. God wants us to bring everything to complete surrender to the presence of God. Then we will see the blessings of the God.
The second winning opportunity in the wrestling match is:
A move, you take from the bottom of the referee’s position to escape, or get away from your opponent. 1 point will be scored for escape.
God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah was wrestling with God and escaped. He thought, he won and gained the point. There is a wrestling match between God and Jonah.
- Jonah was playing escape game with God.
- God was handling him very gently and carefully. There are times when God’s hand is heavy upon us but there are times when God’s hand is so gentle over our lives. He was thrown into the sea of course, but he did not perish. God prepared a fish for Jonah. The compassionate and the gentle nature of our God, when one door closes, Bible says God opens other door because he is our God. He is such a compassionate, gracious and merciful God.
- There arose a need of help from Jonah. Jonah was in the belly of the fish, now he needs help from God. He thought, he won the match by escaping out of the scene but now Jonah wanted help from the God.
- Jonah thought, God was angry but God was not angry, God was trying to prove Jonah that his plans can never be altered by human being like us.
- God was just holding the gut of the fish so that fish is not able to digest Jonah . God was in ultimate control. He was very gentle. Can you come across such a powerful God being gentle. If somebody who is very powerful, very gigantic, very strong come to you, will you give your two months baby into his hands? No, You will think that he will through the baby away, because he is a powerful man. Think about our God all powerful, all mighty but still very gentle.
- God was protecting Jonah and waiting for a time of surrender.
- In the belly of the fish, Jonah surrendered to God.
Jonah 2:3-6 This is the prayer of Jonah, sitting in the belly of the fish and a man who escaped from the presence of the God.
3 For You cast me into the deep ,Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me;
All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me;
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever;
Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.
- Now he realizes that it is the hand of the God, now he comes to the understanding, you throw me into the pit Lord but still you are right there Lord God. Ready to pick me up. Jonah when come to total surrender and total realization, there comes escape. First escape that he made from the presence of the God, that was not real escape but now he has to really escape. When Jonah prayed, God commanded the fish to puke Jonah on the shore.
- The same words came again to Jonah, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.”
Now Jonah was right there in obedience, willing to obey. Now Jonah went. God always wins the wrestling match.
There are couple of things that God wants to do through you and those things can be done only through you. God cannot replace you. God really doesn’t find another person to do the job because he knows very well that you can do that work. You are anointed, appointed and called to do that work. God has brought you with a purpose in your life. God repeatedly tells you to do certain things in your life over and over again. God wants you to do it. But you are not doing it. May be you are afraid or you are not willing to make a commitment. You are not seeing yourselves doing that. How is that possible Lord? But lord says it has to be done only through you. God always wins the wrestling match.
The third winning opportunity in the wrestling match is:
A move during which you quickly turn the tables and go from being in a position of defense to being in a position of Offense. Wrestler who’s brought down, is in the position of defense and now he turns over the other one and he moves himself to the position of offence. 2 points of course in the wrestling match. Spiritually speaking this is not a good move at all. Take-down and escape is good because God will bring you back anyway but reversal is not good move. We take the offensive position from the defensive position. God cannot handle this. Because he is God. How can we ever do this to our God? We can never oppose God. It’s dangerous to oppose God.
Solomon talked about this very clearly in Proverbs 21:30 There is no wisdom or understanding Or counsel against the Lord. But still we try to teach God at times.
When you pray, Bible says do not pray hastily and don’t say take my life away Lord . Do not pray that way because God’s wisdom is much higher than our wisdom that we can ever think.
When we pray, don’t try to teach God, just say what ever we want and STOP. God knows everything. It’s not a good move at all. When we pray, Bible says do not use repetitive words – Babbling like pagans, long prayers thinking that prayer will be answered. Sometimes we just go on and on, lets not think that such prayers will be answered or heard.
Matthew 6:7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Let our prayer be sharp and crisp. By telling too many things we try to teach God at times and God doesn’t like that much.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.
God wants us to think even when we pray about the words that we use but men have always tried to fight God to bring God on our way. This is the saddest part of it. Men try to twist the hands of God so that God can move on behalf of us.
- Pharaoh tried to fight God. You remember the story. It cost him his whole honor, his people, his slaves, his army, his son and his own life.
- King Arad, the Canaanite fought God. God destroyed his people and destroyed his armies. Sihon, King of the Ammorites, Og, Bashan all tried to fight God. They were slaughtered and their land was possessed by Israel.
- Balak, King of Moab tried to fight God, plotted against God and lost the battle.
- The Midianites fought God. God slew all the Midianite males and took the five Midian kings and slew them too. God is all powerful. This morning God wants us to know, let’s not think anything out of the will of the God, completely surrender to the plan to the God.
- The King of Ai fought the God and he was hanged.
- All the kings in Joshua chapter 9 fought God, they plotted all kinds of clever little devices against God and all five of them were taken and hanged on five trees in a row.
- The northern kings in Palestine fought against God. Joshua remembered the story and confined all their horses and burned them. Their chariots were slaughtered with a sword.
- The Bible tells us in Joshua Chapter 12, there were 31 kings who tried to fight against God and they were all slain by Moses and Joshua.
- The greatest men of the world, the monarchs of the world, they were all trying to plot against God, bringing everything together to fight against God. But simply they couldn’t fight against God. It is wrong move to turn against God. At times we turn against God. We ask questions to God. This morning God wants us to know that he is God, we are human.
- Ahab tried to fight God. Remember him? The dogs licked his blood. We can’t fight God.
- In the Southern kingdom and the Northern kingdom most of the kings fought God. None of them could gain victory.
- Rehoboam, Jehoram, Ahaziah, Athaliah, right on down and finally tragically they all met their end of life, terrible stories in the word of God that we see.
We cannot fight God. The greatest people and powerful in the world started fighting God.
- There have been Napoleons in the history, Hitlers, Stalins, Gingus Khans and everybody. There are many other people, names that can go on and on. They all tried to fight God. They collected all the riches and put all the people together and thought they can go and fight God. They could not fight God. Always God won in the history.
He is King of Kings, he is immortal, he is eternal God.
Psalm 2:1-4 1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces, And cast away Their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Bible says, they are all plotting against God, Bible says God who sits in heaven, he just laughs. He just mocks at them. The same thing is applicable to you as a child of God. When people are trying to do something against a child of God, God just mocks at them and laughs at them because nobody can touch a child of God.
When God wrestles with us, we are not going to win. God is going to win but something is going to happen to our lives. It is going to change our lives. We can’t change God. But God changes us. No matter how much we wrestle against God but ultimately God gives, what he wants. But our life would have been already prepared to accept the will of God.
- When Jacob wrestled with God, God changed Jacob totally. He was just limping all along but he was blessed. The limp came because of his adamant nature, fighting with God, wrestling with God and not surrendering his life. Do not go to that extent. It may not be good. When God touches our life, we can’t handle it. It is better to surrender to God.
- When Jonah wrestled with God, Jonah had to repent.
- When the Kings wrestled with God, they were all perished, but God did not change.
God is a source of power. When we touch God, when we deal with God, all that one thing that we need is, surrender. Our mouths closed, our eyes closed, completely bring everything to surrender knowing that he is God.