Jacob’s return to the Land of Promise involved an intense meeting that would transform his life:
Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”
But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
So He said to him, “What is your name?”
He said, “Jacob.”
And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
The encounter lasted all night and gives a sense of Jacob’s physical strength and stamina. Jacob apparently realized that his opponent was not a mere man. At first, he may have thought he was wrestling with an angelic being, but as the night wore on, the Lord made Himself known.
In the process, the Lord gave Jacob the new name “Israel” that reflects the tenacity and perseverance that characterized his life. Jacob had persevered in spite of Esau’s threats, his father-in-law’s attempts to take advantage of him and in a wrestling match with God.
Limping away, Jacob, “called the name of the place Peniel: ‘For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved’” (v. 30).
While the uniqueness of the situation cannot be overstated, his new name, Israel, is a powerful testimony of Jacob’s character, influence and struggle with God.
The fact that we refer to the descendants of Jacob with the collective designation of Israel testifies to the historicity of the man who actually wrestled God!
1) Bible opened to Isaiah. By Ken Horn, [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) Jacob Wrestles with God and Prevails, (c. 1865). By Alexander Louis Leloir (1843-1884), [PD-US, PD-Art], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.