He rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two handmaids, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford of the Jabbok. He took them, and sent them over the stream, and sent over that which he had. Jacob was left alone, and wrestled with a man there until the breaking of the day. When he saw that he didn’t prevail against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was strained, as he wrestled. The man said, “Let me go, for the day breaks.”
Jacob said, “I won’t let you go, unless you bless me.”
He said to him, “What is your name?”
He said, “Jacob.” He said, “Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have fought with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.”
He said, “Why is it that you ask what my name is?” He blessed him there.
Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for, he said, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” The sun rose on him as he passed over Peniel, and he limped because of his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel don’t eat the sinew of the hip, which is on the hollow of the thigh, to this day, because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.
This is a very strange incident isn’t it? Jacob separates himself, very likely upset by the fact that his life was a big mess and that he might lose everything including his life, when an angel decides to fight with him.
This is a very familiar thing to those of us who have a relationship with God. It is usually when we have finally come to the end of all of our own hopes and dreams that we begin to wrestle with the person that we should have been wrestling with all along.
I believe that this “Angel” was Jesus Christ Himself. Even Jacob recognized Him as God, yet he fought like a man. Notice that the Jews also believed that the Angel was God because
they won’t touch the place on their meat where God touched Jacob. This is the exact time when Jesus would fight for a person’s life; the time when all else fails. Notice that Jesus is not afraid of a fight. He knew that Jacob still had some fight in him so He wrestled with him and ultimately crippled him. God could have overpowered Jacob, but that’s not what He wanted. He wanted a relationship with Jacob, but Jacob didn’t have the right attitude until all he could do was hold onto God and ask for help. That’s exactly what God wanted Jacob to do. That’s what He wants all of us to do. We need to hold onto God and ask for His help.
On this day, Jesus created the Jewish nation by renaming Jacob to Israel and on this day Jacob asked Jesus for His blessing. It would have been better had Jacob not fought with God, but through it, Jacob discovered an appropriate relationship with God.