Jacob encounters God as a friend at Bethel (Gen. 28:10- 22). He encounters God a second time at Peniel as an opponent (Gen. 32:24-32).
This is consistent with Abraham and Moses’ experiences as well:
1. Abraham is initially justified by believing God’s promise
of future prosperity (Gen. 17).
2. Abraham is (according to James) also justified when he agrees to offer up Isaac for a sacrifice (Gen. 22).
1. Moses meets God as a friend at the burning bush (Ex. 3).
2. His wife and son later meet God as an opponent on the way to Egypt (Ex. 4:24-26).
Jacob’s struggle with God is part of his eschatological (goal) testing. He had wrestled with men all of his life, and now he wrestles with “a man” who is also “God.” Amazingly Jacob prevails!
The New Testament speaks of wrestling and the kingdom of God:
Matthew 11: 11-16
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Luke 16:16- The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
“Presseth” is the greek word Biadzo meaning “to force, crowd or seize.”
So all of the Old Testament was a time of man wrestling with God (Israel). Jacob wrestles for the goal of receiving God’s blessing. Once he receives this, he wrestles for God “God’s wrestler.” Israel wrestled for God against the pagan nations of its time, and now in the New Covenant, the Church wrestles:
Ephesians 6:12- For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
We now wrestle the spiritual powers and rules! These “powers” ruled over the old word (Eph. 1:21-22).
The Church militant is a Church that wrestles against evil, not carnally, but really.