22 And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. 23 He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. 24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”
But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
27 So He said to him, “What is your name?”
He said, “Jacob.”
28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel;[b] for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.”
And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel:[c] “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” 31 Just as he crossed over Penuel[d] the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.
After years of struggling with men and himself, Jacob has now found himself wrestling with something more. Some have argued that this is really allegory or a simple illustration of the struggle that Jacob was having with God.
I personally believe that this was a real struggle; one that we all go through in our walk with the Lord. The Hebrew used here is “ish” and it means “man, husband, or mighty man.”
We are told that this wrestling match went on all night long and that this “man” seemed to be flesh and blood yet he believed that his struggle was with a divine being. Hosea seems to agree with him (Hosea 12:5) We also see that this being dislocated Jacob’s hip with a simple touch.
Christians believe that this is what is known as a “Christophany,” while Jewish legend states that it is the Archangel Michael.
Regardless of who you side with, the most important thing is the struggle that Jacob is experiencing here with what he believed to be an agent or representative of God and this very struggle is symbolic of what all believers must go through at some point in their walk with the Lord. We fight and scrape for control over our lives, but the time will come when we finally, through our own choices, must give in to God through absolute surrender, as we cling completely to Him because He is all that we have; all that we want; and all that sustains our lives.
This brings about a change in our lives and we become a new creature, in Christ, so that we are no longer known as what we were. We leave that old life; that old way, and we begin a new life in Christ.
This struggle comes with a price though, and we see that in the permanent limp that Jacob now has. We are saved from sin, with a new walk and a new life in and through Christ, but that doesn’t change the fact that we must pay the price that sometimes comes from our old walk, and just as Jacob now has a limp, we may have to live with the consequences of our sinful life.