When many people read Genesis 32, they may wonder why someone would wrestle with God. This is God, the God of the universe, the Creator of everything. He is the all-powerful, all-knowing, the great I AM. It seems crazy to even imagine thinking you could stand a chance wrestling with God. Yet, we all wrestle with God.
Each one of us is separated from God because of sin. He is holy and He will have no part of sin. The truth is sin is anything that goes against God. But as we wrestle with God just as Jacob did since birth, something happens. Jacob started out as a deceiver, a liar—some would even say a cheat. As Jacob was following his own way, God still was reaching out. The wrestling was always there as it is with us—God always reaching out to bring us back to Him, and us always pulling away following our own way.
In the passage we know as Jacob wrestling with God, the wrestling match has changed. This wrestling was very different from the past. Jacob was alone with God, just as we are alone with Him so often as we approach during quiet time in prayer. He fought with God in a different way. He clung to God. He desired God.
We read that God touches Jacob’s hip socket. With one touch, his hip is out of joint; this is something no man could do and it demonstrates the power of God. The fact is God could have done more to Jacob than cause a hip to pop out, but God does not wish to overpower us. This is a reminder that we cannot prevail by our own power. However, He wants simply for us to desire Him, not by force but freely. Jacob’s response shows his desire. He stated, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (v. 26). Basically, I am going to cling to You. I am not letting You go. You can do whatever You want with me. I am sticking with You.
God won’t try to overcome you with power. He could but then that wouldn’t be a relationship; it would be a dictatorship. All the gods of this world attempt to overcome with force. Our God spreads His arms open wide, humbles Himself and dies so that we can live. And when we wrestle with Him, when we declare that we will not let go of Him, He embraces us right back.
This does not just end with Jacob winning a match. God gives Jacob a new name. No longer will he be a deceiver; for he has wrestled with God and prevailed. This means he clung to God, he hung on with everything. Renamed Israel, this man asked God to tell him His name. Why? That’s what Jacob was asked. We don’t read of a response from Jacob because it wasn’t necessary. Jacob wanted not to know another name for God, but to have a deeper revelation, a greater understanding of Who God is. He was given that from that day and onward. As we continue to cling to Him, He continues to reveal Himself to us daily. He is too great and too glorious for us to understand. But we know that the glory of God, the beauty of Christ, is the Light of the gospel—the rest will have to wait (2 Corinthians 4).
I pray that you will evaluate where you are at with your wrestling match with God. Have you been running around the wrestling ring taking jabs? Have you been avoiding situations and blocking the right hooks? Or have you embraced Him, have you clung Him tightly and proclaimed, “I will not let You go” my Lord? I will not let You go. I will not let You go.