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Read Genesis 32:24-25
The Runner and the Wrestler
By Danny Saavedra
“Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him . . . He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint . . .” – Genesis 32:24–25 (NKJV)
It would be an understatement to say that there are some interesting and eccentric characters in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. And among this amazingly diverse group, Jacob definitely sticks out.
From his heel-catching birth to getting his brother’s inheritance for some stew; from the hair-brained scheme he hatched to trick his almost-blind father into blessing him to his soap opera-style romantic saga over Rachel, Jacob had some stories to tell. If ever there were a person in Jesus’ family tree with some wild stories—the kind of stories so insane they’d have to be true—it would be Jacob.
Now, one of the things you’ll notice as you read through the many exploits of Jacob is that he was a runner. After stealing his brother Esau’s inheritance, he ran. When he wanted to get out from under his uncle Laban’s control, he ran. His default in difficult times was to run, because at heart, Jacob leaned on his own abilities in life. Even though he knew God, believed in Him, and listened when He spoke, he relied more on himself than on God.
After running away from Laban and being commanded by God to return to the land of his fathers, he sent a messenger with gifts to his brother Esau. Genesis 32:6–7 (NLT) says, “After delivering the message, the messengers returned to Jacob and reported, ‘We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you—with an army of 400 men!’ Jacob was terrified at the news.”
So, what do you think he did? You guessed it. He got ready to run again. While his brother Esau was on the verge of tracking him down, Jacob ended up alone in his camp wrestling with a man—only it wasn’t a man, it was actually God! He wrestled with Jacob in order to transform him, to bring him to a place of submission, and so God knocked his hip out of its socket.
Why in the world would God do a thing like that? Remember what Jacob did when things got tough? He ran because he leaned on himself. But now, with a hip out of joint, Jacob could no longer run or lean on his own power. From this point forward, he would have to lean on God. His hip was a constant reminder of that!
And to drive the point home even further, the Lord gives Jacob a new name, Israel, which means “governed by God.” The days of running and relying on himself were over. For Israel, the time for standing in faith had finally come, just as it had for his fathers before him.
Like Israel, God also wants us to be governed by Him. When the Prince of Peace left His heavenly throne and became a man, He gave us the perfect example of how to live governed by God. We need to lean into Him and allow Him to lead and direct us (John 5:30; 8:27–28; Luke 22:43–44).
Today, as believers, we can rejoice because we have the Holy Spirit of God within us to convict us and wrestle us back into a place of submission when we try to revert back to our Jacob-like ways. Spend some time today praying, asking the Lord to reveal any areas where you need to submit.