“Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel.” Genesis 32:28
Jacob was a deceiver by name and nature. He purchased his brother Esau’s birthright at a time of Esau’s weakness and, with his mother’s help, stole the blessing Isaac wanted to give Esau. He himself was deceived by his uncle Laban into marrying Leah before marrying Rachael.
The Lord had met with Jacob at Bethel when he left the land promised in the Lord’s covenant with Abraham and again in Haran to send him back. At the ford of Jabbok the Lord came to Jacob again. Jacob was so self-sufficient that he resisted the Lord until the Lord made him lame. Some of us are so stubborn in our own self-realisation that this is the only way we will fully depend on the Lord. Only then was Jacob ready to re-enter the land of promise. Now that he was wholly surrendered to the Lord the Lord gave him a new name – Israel.
As his grandfather Abraham had done, Jacob purchased a parcel of land and built an altar to worship the Lord. He called the place, “God, the God of Israel.” This was the first occasion that the land of promise was called Israel and it stuck. Soon after this his sons referred to the place as Israel (Genesis 34:7).
It was only after the Lord had gotten His way with Jacob that Jacob received a new name. When the Lord has his way with us we are also known by a new name. We are told that we will be given a new personal name (Revelation 2:17) and also have our Lord’s name written on us (Revelation 3:12; 22:4).
The new name Jacob received meant Prince with God and was descriptive of his life after this meeting. Our new names may also be descriptive of our life since yielding to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.