Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. (Genesis 25:26)
That Jacob means “hand on a heel” is very important when you consider that he will later be called Israel, understood to mean “prince of God.” When the man with which he struggled asked him his name (Gen. 32:27), his reply of “Jacob” carried a message with it — “I am always having to protect myself against those who wish to destroy me” (at the time, Esau was approaching him with 400 armed men). To this the man replied:
And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28)
Because he had struggled with God, he was destined, as Israel, to prevail over “Esau” — all those who seek his death — in the end. The prophecy given to Rebekah said that, in the end, the older (Esau) would serve the younger. Rabbinical literature understands Esau (Edom) to be representative of western civilization, specifically Rome. In today’s world that would equate to those nations who consider Israel as an aggressor and oppressor, trying to force them into untenable positions. In the end, Israel will prevail over those who are antagonistic toward them and the King of Israel, the Messiah, will rule over all nations.
This promise to Israel extends to all of us who are in Messiah. Though we may have been faced with trial after trial and attack after attack, there comes a day that we will overcome our enemies. We must, however, be faithful to walk the path that He has prepared for us for it is the only path that leads to life. It is a troublesome journey, at times — one that causes us to struggle with Him even — but it will be worth it all when we, once and for all, overcome the Esau in our life.
Blessings and Shalom,