Day 5: Vayigash/Genesis 46:29-47:11
We, the called-out people of Israel, are collectively YHVH’s possession as described in Torah; yet, YHVH relates to us by the name of Yacov as well.
So, what is the difference between being called Israel in contrast to Yacov? A pattern arises at the initial look of Yacov’s life when YHVH referred to him as Yacov and then later as Israel. This was more significant than just a name change or a new title. Herein, YHVH established within the name change a state of being and a way of life.
When we first see Yacov, he is grasping the heel of his brother, Esau. His name, thusly, was called Yacov. Our translators tell us that this means supplanter, but that is not entirely accurate. Yacov actually means heel holder. This is evident by the root word for Yacov which is aqeb or heel. Yacov was not trying to supersede Esau out of the womb, he was resolutely protecting himself from Esau’s foot crushing his head.
Remember the curse from the Garden that states that the seed of man’s foot would crush the serpent’s head? This sheds light on an interesting line of thinking. It actually reverses the story of Esau and Yacov around to understand that the enemy was trying to crush the righteous seed of Isaac through which Messiah would come.
As we fast-forward this narrative we become aware that Yacov did not steal a birthright, but bartered for it with a bowl of stew. Furthermore, he did not steal the first-born blessing but took what was rightfully his by ownership of the birthright — although a deception was facilitated by Rebecca to acquire the blessing. Through his obedience and faithfulness, Yacov emerged as the righteous seed who was called and known by YHVH.
Later, as he wrestles with the angel of YHVH, his name is changed to Israel. The root words for Israel are sara, meaning to have power, persist, persevere, and content with; and el, meaning mighty one and eludes to YHVH.
Some differences are worth pointing out: While, Yacov is subservient to men and YHVH, Israel seems subservient to YHVH alone. Yacov lives in fear of man and longs for what is lost through anxiety and perplexity, while Israel takes steps of faith and obedience he then hears the voice of YHVH with Covenant promises and renewal. Also, Yacov is incomplete and apart from the peace of YHVH; meanwhile, Israel sojourns with YHVH as a complete son and full of peace.
While this explanation is not exhaustive, there are other reasons why YHVH would distinguish between Yacov and Israel. There are very strong reckonings as to why a name change is established and why we would be considered both Yacov and Israel, both in yesteryear and our lives today.
It should be noted that Yeshua was called by two names: Son of God and Son of Man. This did not diminish His role, character, or personage, but demarcated Him before men who wanted to keep Him separate from the Father. He stood before man and humbled Himself as mankind’s ultimate servant while simultaneously standing before YHVH as the King of kings and the High Priest eternal.
Our poignant dual roles have been defined through Yacov, for Yacov’s trouble is set before us, Israel, as the people chosen by YHVH for His own possession. It is imperative that we begin to walk in faith and obedience so that we draw closer to YHVH and draw closer to one another to fulfilling both callings: a nation of kings and priests, and the whole household of faith that makes up the bride of Messiah.
How do you see yourself today? Are you being overcome by the crushing heel of the enemy or are you an overwhelming conquering king and priest in Messiah?
While we are to humble ourselves before man and serve each other (just as Yacov went before Pharaoh so as to bless him twice), we should posture ourselves as princes having presented our case to the Father through Yeshua, yet have faith that we are chosen to be kings and priests. Both are our called-out roles, both are who we are in Messiah.
Dwell upon Isaiah 44:1-3, “But now listen, O Yacov, My servant, and Israel, whom I have chosen: thus says YHVH who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you, do not fear, O Yacov My servant; and you Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Ruach on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants…”