Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto Him: He found him in Bethel, and there He spake with us;
Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial.
This story always puzzled me when I was a child. How could a human being possibly prevail over God Himself? Bible scholars agree that the “man” was actually the Angel of God, or a Theophane, an appearance of God as a man.
We know that Jacob’s character was one of deceit, and that it was so from before he and Esau were born. He deceived Laban; he even deceived his father Isaac, with the encouragement and help of his mother. Knowing this will help us to understand why he found it so difficult to submit to God. He knew that if he gave in, there would have to be a change in his behavior. So he fought.
The only way he could prevail with God would have been to admit that he was outmatched, and to give in. When we submit to God’s authority, acknowledging that He is God, then we have power with Him.
I like this painting for several reasons. I do wish the artist had left off the wings, but that’s a minor detail. If you look closely at the “angel,” he does not seem to be stressed at all. His face is calm. His muscles are not defined like Jacob’s, who would seem to be exerting every ounce of strength against his heavenly opponent. It would almost seem as if the angel was simply waiting for Jacob to relent. And we even see the angel touching Jacob’s thigh, causing him to limp for the rest of his life. What a reminder that must have been to Jacob every single day!
And he did. He wept and prayed to God, asking for His blessing. In his surrender, he got that blessing. He called the place Peniel, which means I have seen God face to face. The remarkable thing to Jacob was that his life was preserved!
I refer you again to Gen. 32: 24-30 for this dramatic story.