Can you imagine a man wrestling with God and winning?
Before Jacob could cross the Jabbok River, a man attacked and fought with him. The fight was real, and it was physical. "Now he arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had. Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak" (Genesis 32:22-24). They wrestled all night in a long decisive battle until daybreak. The man with whom Jacob wrestled refused to reveal Himself directly (v. 29). Probably if Jacob realized he would be fighting against God, he never would have engaged the Man.
Perhaps the strangest thing is that Jacob was not defeated until the Man “touched the socket of his thigh, so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him” (v.25).
Even then Jacob still would not let go of the Man. Jacob pleaded, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (v.26).
In a significant way, Jacob though crippled and therefore unable to win, pleaded for a blessing. It was the voice of a man who was subdued, beaten at his own game, crippled in the last agony of despair as he was pegged to the matt.
In the Old Testament a person’s name is linked to his character. In this encounter with the Man, Jacob’s life was radically changed (v.28). He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed" (Genesis 32:28).
The “heel catcher” was caught and subdued before he could be blessed.
The blessing took the form of a new name. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel – “he who strives with God.”
Has God had to cripple you to bless you? Jacob, now Israel, limped for the rest of his life. Everywhere he went people would ask, “Jacob, why are you limping?”
Jacob won when he was beaten. He triumphed when he yielded. God crippled Jacob and broke him of his being a supplanter, deceiver, and attacker from the rear.
Every time Jacob limped, it was a constant reminder that God won at last.
Does every limp in your life remind you of your weakness? Does it make you conscious of the evil within you? Does it bring to bear upon your conscious mind that which baffles, beats, and blisters your personal life?
God opens heaven and blesses us when we lay our head down on a cold, hard, rough, unkind, unsympathetic hostile stone.
The earlier we learn this great spiritual principle, the better off we are in life.
When the God of Jacob is our refuge, He puts His hand on us to teach us great spiritual lessons, to wound us, cripple us, in order that He might give us a deeper healing. He cripples to make us stronger.
God removed all of Jacob’s false securities that night and made him depend upon Him alone. The “God of Jacob” became his refuge.
Have you been to the Jabbok River? Have you wrestled with God until He had made you confess your real character and nature to Him? Has He humbled you by placing His finger in the socket of your thigh and made you leave limping because you wrestled with God?
God cannot bless us and use us until He has broken us. He has to put a scar on our selfish flesh to remind us what our lives are without His abiding presence to bless us.
The apostle Paul learned that lesson well (2 Cor. 4:6-12; 12:7-10). Afflicted, persecuted, perplexed, and struck down, “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you” (2 Cor. 4:10-12).