And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. (Genesis 32:24)
There are several things I would like to get straight as we come to this wrestling match. I have heard it said that Jacob did the wrestling. Actually, Jacob didn’t want to wrestle anybody. He has Uncle Laban in back of him who doesn’t mean good at all, and he has his brother Esau ahead of him. Jacob is no match for either one. He is caught now between a rock and a hard place, and he doesn’t know which way to turn. Do you think he wanted to take on a third opponent that night? I don’t think so.
Jacob is no wrestler — let’s make that very clear here at the beginning. That night he was alone because he wanted to be alone, and he wasn’t looking for a fight.
This is the question: Who is this one who wrestled with Jacob that night? There has been a great deal of speculation about who it is, but I think He is none other than the preincarnate Christ. There is some evidence for this in the prophecy of Hosea:
Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt. The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Beth-el, and there he spake with us; Even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial. (Hosea 12:1-5)
“The Lord is his memorial” — or, “the Lord is His name.” It was none other than Jehovah, the preincarnate Christ, who wrestled with Jacob that night.
And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. (Genesis 32:25)
Old Jacob is not going to give up easily; he is not that kind of man — and he struggled against Him. Finally, this One who wrestled with him crippled him.
And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. (Genesis 32:26)
What happens now? Jacob is just holding on; he’s not wrestling. He is just holding on to this One. He found out that you do not get anywhere with God by struggling and resisting. The only way that you get anywhere with Him is by yielding and just holding on to Him. Abraham had learned that, and that is why he said amen to God. He believed God, and He counted it to him for righteousness. Abraham reached the end of his rope and put his arms around God. My friend, when you get in that condition, then you trust God. When you are willing to hold on, He is there ready to help you.—From Edited Messages on Genesis by J. Vernon McGee