"There Wrestled A Man With Him"
In the evening as Jacob sat alone waiting for Esau to appear, suddenly a man appeared out of nowhere, laid hold of him, and wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. This was not a vision, or a dream, but a real struggle, both physical and spiritual. It was not a brief encounter, but one that lasted all night long.
Who was this man? The question is easily answered. The man who wrestled with Jacob was God himself (v.30). He was the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Angel of the covenant (Hos. 12:4),through whom all the blessings of grace come to God's elect. Christ frequently appeared to God's saints in the Old Testament in human form. These preincarnate appearances of our Savior were tokens and pledges of his coming into the world.
This man, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God wrestled with Jacob. We are not told that Jacob wrestled with the man,but "there wrestled a man with Jacob." Those who use this story as an example of importunate prayer miss the mark. Jacob was not wrestling with this man to obtain a blessing. This man was wrestling with Jacob. It is the object of a wrestler to bring his opponent down, to pin him to the ground, to render him helpless. That was the Lord's object as he wrestled with Jacob. His purpose was to pin Jacob down, conquer his spirit, subdue his flesh, and render him helpless. He wrestled with Jacob to reduce him to a sense of his nothingness, to make him see what a poor, helpless, worthless creature he was. You see, God's purpose in all the trials of his elect is to make us strong in grace and strong in faith; and the way he makes us strong is to make us know and recognize our weakness. "When I am weak, then am I strong" (II Cor. 12:7-10).
This man wrestled with Jacob "until the breaking of the day." This was no brief, indifferent encounter. Great issues were at stake. Eternal matters had to be resolved. They had to be resolved in Jacob's heart, resolved permanently, and resolved on the spot. Jacob had to acknowledge Christ as his Lord, bow to his will, and lose his life to his rule. He must willingly, in his heart, surrender to Christ in all things. God was determined to bless and use Jacob; but he would neither bless him nor use him until these matters were resolved, until Jacob was conquered, broken, subdued, and willing to be ruled by Christ.