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THE BIBLE’S WRESTLING MATCHES
Victor M. Eskew
A. When I was a boy, one of the popular things in Memphis was wresting.
1. There was wrestling on television every week.
2. There was always “Monday Night Wrestling” at the Mid-South Coliseum.
3. Some of the wrestlers were: Tojo Yammamoto, Jerry Lawler, Jackie Fargo, Hulk Hogan, Sputnik Monroe, Bill Goldberg, and Randy Savage.
4. The two main announcers were: Lance Russell and Dave Brown.
B. Wrestling is still a popular sport.
1. There are still two hour weekly programs that are on TV.
2. They now have “Pay-Per-View” wrestling matches.
3. There are still coliseums and arenas that are packed from time to time with wrestling fans.
C. Wrestling has always been popular. In fact, wrestling is mentioned four times in the Bible.
1. One is literal (Gen. 32:24).
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
2. One is relational (Gen. 30:8).
And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.
3. Two are spiritual (Eph. 6:12).
a. We wrestle against spiritual wickedness.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
b. We wrestle with others who oppose the truth (Jude 3).
Beloved, when I gave all diligent to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
I. A LITERAL MATCH WITH A SPIRITUAL APPLICATION
A. For Jacob, this wrestling match was real.
1. The match lasted until the breaking of day (Gen. 32:24).
2. Jacob’s thigh was out of joint in the match (Gen. 32:25).
3. Jacob would not let him go until he received a blessing (Gen. 32:26).
4. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel (Gen. 32:27).
5. Jacob had power with God and with men and prevailed (Gen. 32:28).
6. Jacob received a blessing (Gen. 32:29).
7. Jacob named the place Peniel: “for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Gen. 32:30).
B. In this event, we find a spiritual application to our prayer lives.
1. Prayer can be likened unto a wrestling match.
a. In prayer, we latch on to God and hold Him tightly.
b. We desire a blessing and will not let go until He blesses us.
2. Prayer can take its toll on us.
a. We spend long hours in prayer.
b. We wait with no response.
c. We can begin to question and doubt.
1) We can question God’s love and care for us.
2) We can question our motives.
3) We can begin to have our faith called into question.
d. We do not always get the answers that we desire.
3. In prayer, we are changed.
a. Sinner to forgiven
b. Weak into strong
c. Doubting into confident
d. Hopeless to hopeful
4. In prayer, we are blessed.
5. In prayer, we understand that we are in the very presence of the Almighty God.
II. A RELATIONAL WRESTLING MATCH
A. Jacob was tricked into marrying two women to get the one he wanted.
1. He agreed to server Laban for seven years in order to marry Rachel, his youngest daughter (Gen. 29:18).
2. After the seven year period, Laban gave him Leah instead (Gen. 29:23-24). Laban’s excuse was: “It must not be done so in our county, to give the younger before the firstborn” (Gen. 29:26).
3. Jacob was given Rachel after this, but had to toil another seven years for her (Gen. 29:27-28).
4. The battle really began when it was time to bare children.
a. Leah was able to conceive and bore four sons to Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah (Gen. 29:31-35).
b. Rachel, however, was barren. In Genesis 30:1, we read: “And when Rachel saw she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister…”
c. Rachel designed a plan to have children through her handmaid, Bilhah (Gen. 30:3-8)
d. Her second child through Bilhah was Naphtali which means “wrestlings.”
B. Wrestling matches in relationships are real. They can be just as difficult, and more so, than a literal wrestling match.
a. Sins in the church
b. Sermon selection
c. Preaching style
d. Control of the preacher
a. Sins (family members)
b. Advocating for change
3. False teachers
a. Opposition to teaching
III. SPIRITUAL WRESTLING
A. The first is the battle that all Christians face, the wrestling match with Satan and his allies (Eph. 6:12).
1. Leaders in churches are not immune from temptation.
2. Some of the sins they face:
b. Sexual sins (adultery, pornography, homosexuality)
c. Financial struggles: extortion, tax fraud, not paying bills
d. Sins of the tongue
3. Paul’s counsel is to put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17). Note: All of the armor Paul mentions has some connection with the Word of God.
B. The second spiritual battle involves wrestling against false teachers (Jude 3).
1. Three places they can be found:
a. In the congregation (perhaps before you arrived)
b. In the area (close ties, even families ties)
c. In the brotherhood (well-known, liked, well-educated)
2. Some of them love to spar. They love to cause trouble. They are extremely convinced that their error is the truth.
3. Jude gives us several ways to prevail against them.
a. Faith (Jude 20)
b. Prayer (Jude 20)
c. Love (Jude 21)
d. Hope (Jude 21)
e. Rescue (Jude 22-23)
A. Wrestling may be a fun sport to watch, but it is a difficult sport in which to participate spiritually.
B. There are four wrestling matches that each us will face in our spiritual lives: with God in prayer, with others, with Satan’s temptations, and with false teachers.
C. Jesus had to wrestle with all of these during His earthly sojourn.
1. He wrestled with God in prayer (Gethesmane, Matt. 26:36-44).
2. We wrestled in His relationships with others, even with His apostles (Ex., Peter’s denial of Jesus and his confrontation with Jesus after His resurrection, Matt. 26:69-75; John 21:15-17).
3. He wrestled with the evil one (Matt. 4:1-11).
4. He wrestled with false teachers, especially the religious leaders of His day (Matt. 15:1-9).
5. NOTE: If Jesus wrestled with these things, then we cannot expect to be free from them.
D. In every wrestling match, the desired end is to win.
1. We receive what we ask from God.
2. We strengthen our relationships with others.
3. We overcome sin.
4. We are able to convict and convince the gainsayers.