As we shall see, this was indeed a “physical fight” with a “Man” who is also called an “Angel” and Jacob realized during the wrestling match that the Man/Angel was none other than God Himself. This interesting account is in Genesis 32:22-32 and we will break this down to see what we can learn.

Verses 22-24: “And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.” There is no reason not to believe that this was a “literal wrestling with a Man” that went on all night long. Notice how the word “Man” is capitalized. Why is this? Ah, because this was no “ordinary man.” In Hosea 12:4 we read, “Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; he wept, and sought favor from Him, he found Him in Bethel, and there He spoke to us.” Hosea is describing this same wrestling match and he calls the Man “the Angel.” This was not any “ordinary angel” for it is indeed “THE Angel of the Lord,” which is a name the God took when He appeared to men at times throughout the Old Testament. Hosea goes on to say that Jacob “sought favor from Him” which also tells us this was God Himself, for no one would ask a mere angel to bless him. Let’s read on and this will become clearer.

Verses 25-29: “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. And He said, ‘Let Me go, for the day breaks.’ But he said, ‘I will not let You go unless You bless me!’ So He said to him, ‘What is your name?” He said, ‘Jacob.’ 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.’ 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.” As we read this carefully, we see that it was actually God that wrestled with Jacob and that Jacob prevailed, even though God put the socket of Jacob’s hip out of joint. Jacob may have lost the “physical fight” but he did win a “spiritual victory” since he was determined to cling to the Man/Angel until he was blessed by Him and God did bless him! He changed his name Jacob (which means “supplanter, deceiver”) to Israel (a Prince with God). Jacob’s “new name” became the name of the nation which would be born through him! Again, Jacob lost the wrestling match, but he was awarded a spiritual blessing because in faith he held on to the Lord and asked Him to bless him. In other words, he was “pleading for God to show him grace” and that’s exactly what God did! This teaches us, dear fellow-believers, that even though we are “weak in ourselves,” we can be “strong in faith” and cling to the Lord for His blessings which He, in His bountiful grace, loves to bestow upon us.

Verses 30-32: And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: ‘For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.’ Just as he crossed over Penuel, the sun rose on him, and HE LIMPED ON HIS HIP. Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socked, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.” These words confirm, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the wrestling match was a physical fight between Jacob and God and that Jacob’s hip socket was literally put out of joint, for he remained a cripple from that day forward. The Israelites acknowledged this solemn encounter that Jacob had with God by refusing to eat this portion of a slaughtered animal.  (DO)  (539.5)