Seeing By Means of the Word and Blessing of God

Pentecost 22 Saturday

Genesis 32:29-30

“And Jacob asked him and said: “Tell me, what is your name?” Yet he said: “Why do you ask for my name?” And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the place Peniel. “For I have seen God’s face and my soul was healed.””

Jacob, because he was so terrified and distraught, does not yet understand the words. For he is not quite done yet with the Man’s temptation he endured to this point. It was so hard that he did not feel anything else besides that he had to be lost and die. For such apparitions happen according to the feeling of the one being tempted or as the poor weak flesh thinks. For both must happen and be experienced, namely, the mortification of the flesh and the vivification of the spirit…Now, as Jacob experiences the weakness of his faith and does not cling to the promise firmly enough, but wavers
according to the flesh and doubts God’s will, as the flesh is accustomed to do, the face of God appears to be unfriendly and sour to him; it fights and looks as if it wanted to kill Jacob. This is also what happens to all those who are tempted when they do not rejoice in the goodness of God which they see before their eyes, but are terrified and afraid of the angry God. Then they think that they are threatened by certain death; then everything looks bleak, dark, sad, unfortunate, and miserable, in heaven and on earth; they delight in neither sun nor moon; for the heart, oppressed by the flesh, is dying, and when the heart is dead, everything collapses…These matters are quite hidden and marvelous, known only to those who have the promises, in which they are tempted and humbled in this way. And in such humbling they nonetheless become overcomers, even of God himself. For, this Man says, “I am God and man whom you have overcome.” But while the struggle takes place, Jacob does not understand this; due to the weakness, he also does not see his strength, but begins to ask: “Who are you? Tell me your name because you say that I have overcome God and man.” For that is when the fighter revealed himself, that he is God and man. But Jacob does not yet understand it and still lies in utter darkness…The fighter, however, still refuses to tell him who he is and leaves Jacob in uncertainty and doubt. And just as Jacob’s mindset is, so the likeness of the man is…If Jacob had come to already and the clouds had not darkened the sunlight, he would have been able to understand this much more easily when he was called an overcomer of God and men. He understands the words but the thing itself he does not understand; for he does not know that this is the Lord: “Who are you in whom I have overcome God and men?” But finally the apparition of the Lord follows, when he blesses him. For there God lets go of the outward mask and reveals that the Man who wrestled with Jacob was both God and man who would reveal himself in the future in our flesh and whom the Jews would crucify. Moses does not say what the
blessing was. Yet, without a doubt, it was the blessing by which the fathers had been blessed: In your Seed all the nations will be blessed, Genesis 22:18…What Jacob was unable to see when God appeared as a man…this he now understands based on the Word and the blessing, and sees it with great joy…This is a very joyful end and conclusion of this struggle. For now Jacob passes from hell into heaven, from death into life.

Walch ed., 2:1167-1170.

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