Who Can Prevail in a Wrestling Match With God?

Unless you’ve been reading in the Book of Genesis here with us at Ladies Drawing Nigh this week, you might feel that the title of this article is a bit irreverent, at best.  After all, who would even think of such a thing as wrestling with the Almighty God?

I mean, even the lost Pharisees knew the futility of fighting against God.  Sadly, they were just too blinded by pride to see that they were doing just that.  Gamaliel says of the teachings of Jesus—

But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. Acts 5:39

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How could anyone possibly imagine winning any kind of battle with the One who holds all power in heaven and in earth?  (Matthew 28:18)

And yet Jacob did prevail in a wrestling match with the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ!

And he [Jesus] said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.  Genesis 32:28


Jacob Wrestles With Jesus.

How do we know that it was Jesus that Jacob fought?

Jacob says in verse 30, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”  But Jesus tells us of God, the Father, in John 4:24, “God is a Spirit.”

Jacob could not have had a physical wrestling match with God the Father.  Therefore, we know that he wrestled with God the Son, the pre-incarnate Christ!

And prevailed!

But how?  And in what sense?


Jacob’s Persistence

God, Jesus, has all power and was in perfect control throughout this incident.  Yet Jacob prevailed.  How?  Through persistence.  He stayed in the battle with God until he, Jacob, was ready to admit defeat.

He endured through his struggle with God until God thoroughly conquered him.

David Guzik

I know this doesn’t sound like Jacob prevailing.  But keep reading.

God conquered Jacob in this night-long struggle.  God conquered him not only physically but also, and finally, God conquered Jacob’s will.  Jacob finally admits defeat, surrendering his will to God.

We are told in Hosea 12:3-4 in reference to this incident, that Jacob wept and sought favor from God.

He [Jacob—Genesis 25:26] took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:  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;  Hosea 12:3-4

Jesus, not Jacob, was the conqueror.  A conqueror does not weep and seek a blessing, or favor, from the one he has defeated.  Hosea 12 verse 4 is referring to Genesis 32 verse 26—

And he [Jesus] said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he [Jacob] said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

Verse 26, then, is not Jacob demanding of God what Jacob wants to see happen and putting conditions on Him, like he had done at Bethel when he had fled from Esau years before.  (Genesis 28:19-22)

This time Jacob’s prayer is one of weeping and pleading…and acknowledgement of his need before God.  This time Jacob leaves the details of the blessing up to God.  Jacob now wants what God wants for him.  Whatever way God chooses to bless him.

Jacob is finally in a place where all he can do is hold on to Jesus.

The perfect place to be.

He cannot fight anymore.  He now acknowledges how desperately he needs God’s blessing.

God has conquered Jacob.


Jacob Prevails!

And Jacob prevails with Jesus…in that Jesus answers Jacob’s prayer!

He gives Jacob the sought for blessing!

No longer is Jacob the self-reliant, self-sufficient, schemer.  And so, Jesus changes his name from Jacob, “the supplanter, or deceiver” to Israel, “God rules.” 

God now rules Jacob’s heart and life, The greatest blessing of all!

For in surrender is the place of true peace, joy, rest, and protection.


For more help deepening your prayer life, you’ll want to be sure to check out all these powerful Prayer Resources!

Our Own Wrestlings

While we won’t ever physically wrestle with God, as did Jacob, we do wrestle nonetheless.

Every time we argue with God, we are wrestling with Him.  When we refuse His comfort in the face of our grief, we wrestle with Him.  When we tamp down the nudging of the Holy Spirit, we are wrestling with God.

Might you be choosing worry and fear, instead of the rest and peace available to you by faith in God’s promises?  That is wrestling with God.

Or, might you be struggling to accept the place God has you right now in this season of life?

Anytime we choose discouragement and discontent, we are wrestling with God.  We are fighting with Him to have our own way.  We think we know best what will make us happy and content.

But like Jacob finally learned…

We will only win, when God wins. 


Power With God

When God wins the rule over our hearts and desires and lives, we win.

We will never win in our struggles by praying over and over again for God to help us have our own way.

Asking God what He wants in our situation and life…staying in our prayer closet until we know that we have lost the battle through surrender to God…is the way to “have power with God” and to prevail.

God would answer Jacob’s prayer in Genesis 32:9-12.  But Jacob wouldn’t be delivered from his brother Esau until after he had been delivered from his self-will and self-reliance.

You know, our battles with God are really battles with our self-will.  And we will only continue to be miserable until we just give up our will and let God take over…whatever He wants for our life.  Remember—You will only win when He wins.

There is something to be said for every man doing his “wrestling” with God, and then acknowledging God’s greatness after having been defeated. We must know we serve a God who is greater than us, and we cannot conquer much of anything until He conquers us.

David Guzik


What are you struggling with Jesus about today?

Do you want to prevail with God today?  To have your prayers answered, your needs met?

Then concede the fight. 

Admit defeat and surrender to God, the One who loves and desires to pour out His blessings upon you. 


Drawing nigh to Him,


This post is part of our Genesis Bible study.

Study Journal available >> HERE!


Have you admitted defeat before God?  What in your life did God use to bring you to that place of complete surrender to Him?  What advice can you give to others who are still struggling?


Walking With God—What Does That Even Mean?

The Wisdom of a Teachable Spirit

What a Difference a Moment With Jesus Makes!

Jesus…Our Overcomer!

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