Jacob had wronged Esau. Now he was headed back to meet his brother, and he didn’t know whether or not Esau would kill him. But Jacob was about to have an encounter with God.
I find it very interesting how the Lord came to Jacob as a wrestler. It’s almost as though the Lord was saying, “You want some of this? You’re always fighting Me. You’re always wrestling Me. Game on. Let’s do this.”
The Bible tells us that “a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day” (Genesis 32:24 NKJV). This wasn’t an angel; this was the Lord Himself. Jacob called the place “Peniel,” which means “face of God.” This is what we would call a Christophany, which is an appearance of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.
We think of Jesus as primarily in the New Testament, but the fact is that Jesus, being a part of the Godhead, being eternal, has always existed. Thus, we find Christ in the Old Testament as well, making appearances in different places. I believe this was one of them. Jacob the manipulator met the Messiah. The conniver met the Christ. The wrestler met his match.
Commentator C. H. Mackintosh said, “To be left alone with God is the only true way of arriving at a just knowledge of ourselves and our ways.… No matter what we may think about ourselves, or what others may think about us; the great question is, what does God think about us?”
Jacob was all alone, and he was having to think about everything he had done. That happens when you get alone with God. Sometimes we need to unplug and, as the psalmist said, “Be still, and know that He is God.” That is how we can hear the voice of God again.