It means God has shown you holy mercy.
R. C. Sproul finds out by looking at Jacob, Job, Habakkuk, and Paul in chapter 7 of The Holiness of God.
“When we wrestle with the Almighty, we lose.”
God let Jacob survive his wrestling match with the angel (Genesis 32:24-32), but Jacob was crippled the rest of his life. Sproul says a lesson here is that,
God will engage us in our honest struggles. We may wrestle with the Holy One. Indeed, for the transforming power of God to change our lives, we must wrestle with Him.
When Job challenged God, he was looking for answers. Instead,
God answered job's questions not with words but with Himself. As soon as Job saw who God was, Job was satisfied. Seeing the manifestation of God was all that he needed. He was able to leave the details in God's hands.
Job repented and made no further challenges (Job 42:2-6).
Habakkuk was a prophet in the Old Testament who was offended that God was letting his own people suffer at the hands of those more evil than they (Habakkuk 1:2-4).
But after demanding answers from God, like Job, Habakkuk too was quickly humbled when God spoke (Habakkuk 3:16). He turned from despair at what God had planned to having a confident hope in the final outcome, and leaving us with some of the most beautiful verses in the Bible:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
Sproul summarizes these Old Testament stories in this way:
Jacob, Job, and Habakkuk all declared war on God. They all stormed the battlements of heaven.
They were all defeated, yet they all came away from the struggle with uplifted souls. They paid a price in pain.
God allowed the debate, but the battle was fierce before peace was established.
Saul of Tarsus was another who fought against God. While blatantly persecuting God’s true followers, he was abruptly challenged on the road to Damascus by the Lord himself (Acts 26:13-19). He was thrown to the ground and instantly blinded by Jesus’ holiness.
His first question was, “Who are you, Lord?” Finding out turned his fight against Christ into a fight for Christ.
You and me
We often struggle against a holy God, too. Only when we come to grips with own unholiness and accept the gift of his righteousness do we find peace. A lasting peace.
Our peace with God is not fragile; it is stable. When we sin, God is displeased, and He will move to correct us and convict us of our sin.
But He does not go to war against us.
This peace gives us access to God’s presence forever. We may still tremble before him, but we are no longer at war with him.
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When have you fought with God? How did it turn out?
Chapter 8, Be Holy Because I Am Holy