Jabbok, the place where Jacob wrestled with God and made his total surrender, exemplifies the place where Christians fight their private wars. There are no counselors, no friends, no helpers — just you and God. At Jabbok Jacob cast down his last idol and won his greatest victory. And there he received his new character and his new name — Israel.
“And [Jacob] arose that night … and crossed over the ford of Jabbok” (Genesis 32:22). Jabbok means “a place of passing over” but it also stands for struggle; to empty and pour out. The glorious truth revealed in this place has everything to do with us today. It is where God’s people discover the secret of power over every besetting sin. It represents a life-and-death crisis, one that leads to absolute surrender.
We are familiar with two crossings — the Red Sea and the Jordan River. Crossing the Red Sea represents a new start, coming out of the world, “getting saved.” Crossing the Jordan represents a commitment to go on with the Lord, reading the Word, witnessing, growing in Christ, and receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
But there is more — a third crossing, a crossing into a place of true rest in God. There can be no glorious victory over self and sin until you go to your personal Jabbok. Multitudes of Spirit-filled, Spirit-led believers have never known the true rest of God because of secret sin or unbelief. God said of Israel, “They could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19).
Our Lord wants to change us into new people with pure hearts and clean hands. Our personal Jabbok is the place where the Lord hears our cries of desperation and touches us, just as he touched Jacob. During Jacob’s wrestling with the Lord, his thigh was put out of joint and the Lord purposely weakened him, but he came through in glorious victory. The same may be true with you. He may cripple your human efforts and cause you to hobble away, humbled and crippled. But your surrender will bring you into victory, totally dependent on your Deliverer.