For the Strength of Youth
Why did God change Jacob’s name to Israel?

“Why did God change Jacob’s name to Israel?,” For the Strength of Youth, Mar. 2022.

To the Point

Why did God change Jacob’s name to Israel?

The Lord Appearing unto Abraham

Painting by Keith Larson

Jacob was the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham. Like them, Jacob had righteous desires and sought the Lord’s blessings.

At a crucial moment in his life, “Jacob wrestled with a serious challenge. His agency was tested. Through this wrestle, Jacob proved what was most important to him. He demonstrated that he was willing to let God prevail in his life. In response, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, meaning ‘let God prevail.’ God then promised Israel that all the blessings that had been pronounced upon Abraham’s head would also be his” (Russell M. Nelson, “Let God Prevail,” Oct. 2020 general conference [Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2020, 92]). Taking this new name was a sign of receiving the covenant his father and grandfather had received.

When we are baptized, we make covenants. We also show that we are willing to take upon ourselves a new name—the name of Jesus Christ. In addition, we become part of the house of Israel—those who have made covenants with God and have promised to “let God prevail” in their lives. God then promises us the same blessings He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.