When reading the Bible, it’s a good idea to take notes. When I first started reading the Bible, I wrote my notes down in a journal. In a short time, I filled that journal and created another one. Now, many years and moves later, I’m not sure if I still have those journals, which is a shame. However, in 2009 I moved from writing on paper to digital. Shortly after moving to digital journaling, I started reading the Bible digitally for my daily devotions. Since the software I use, YouVersion, allows for notes, I have notes directly associated with verses.

While reading Genesis today, I stumbled upon a note I wrote about this verse from Genesis a few years ago.

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.

Genesis 32:24 (NIV)

In my note, I wrote, “This symbolizes wrestling in prayer with God.”

Frankly, I was surprised when I read that note because I strongly disagree now. Jacob wrestling with God, as we read in Genesis 32:22-32 isn’t an allegory, as some might think, because of two things that happened during this wrestling match.

  1. Jacob was injured.

When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.

Genesis 32:25 (NIV)

The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.

Genesis 32:31 (NIV)

One thing to note about Jacob’s injury is that there’s no Biblical evidence that it was permanent, as some claim. In fact, Jacob’s actions afterward, bowing down to Esau seven times and building a house at Sukkoth along with shelters for the livestock, aren’t indicative of someone with a hip injury. Furthermore, after Genesis 32:31, the Bible never mentions any physical issue with Jacob.

  1. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Genesis 32:28 (NIV)

This name change is later confirmed again by God.

After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.

Genesis 35:9-10 (NIV)

Jacob’s name changes to Israel in Genesis 32, and the confirmation in Genesis 35 reminds me of how, when we become Christians, we become new creatures in Christ. Yet, it takes a lifetime afterward to become the people God created us to be. Jacob, similarly, was still the fearful and deceitful person we saw earlier in Genesis but faced challenges that helped him change further until Genesis 35, where the Lord calls him Israel again. Then we finally see Jacob referred to as Israel for the first time in Genesis 35:21 after Rachel’s death.

While the Bible does contain allegorical messages, the incident we read of in Genesis 32 of Jacob wrestling with God isn’t one of them.

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, freed from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart and receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.