Did Jacob wrestle with God or man?

JacobHello E,

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“Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day” (Genesis 32:24).

After Jacob deceived his father to take the blessing of Esau, he ran away from home. And Esau regarded himself as the sole heir of their father’s possessions. After a period of time, the Lord called Jacob to go back to his country. So, he sent messengers to inform Esau of his return. And Jacob’s messengers told him, Esau is coming to meet you with 400 armed men. Esau wanted to secure his possession of the wealth and to seek revenge.

“Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed” (Genesis 32:7) and he decided to spend the night in prayer alone with God. But during the night “a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day” (Genesis 32:24). The stranger placed his finger upon Jacob’s thigh, and he was crippled instantly. Then, Jacob realized that he was struggling with a heavenly being. All penitent and broken, he held on to the messenger of the Lord pleading for a blessing. The heavenly being tried to release Himself saying, “Let Me go, for the day breaks” but Jacob answered, “I will not let You go unless You bless me” (v. 26).

Through repentance, he prevailed. He had fastened his faith upon the promises of God, and the heart of Infinite love could not turn away his prayer. As evidence that he had been forgiven, the Lord changed his name from one that was a reminder of his sin, to one that commemorated his victory. And the messenger “said, your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed” (v. 28).

That messenger was not a human being because he said “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Genesis 24:30; Hosea 12:2-5). This being was the pre-incarnate Christ, “the messenger of the covenant” (Mal. 3:1), acting as the Lord’s vessel for communication and manifestation. This appearance of Christ in human form is not strange in the Old Testament for there are other incidents where Christ revealed Himself in a physical form to humans (Genesis 18; Judges 6:11-22; Genesis 14:17-20).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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