“Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him (Jacob), he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.” Genesis 32:24,25
Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that the Lord often uses crises to prepare us for His purposes! If one is a follower of Christ, if you are not going though a crisis presently, one will be along presently! And most would add, they have learned more in times of affliction than they have in times of affluence.
That will be the testimony of Jacob (v 30) as the Lord maneuvers him into a one-on-one encounter. That is the Lord’s goal for each of us, to get us alone with Him! After running from his brother, Esau (Gen. 27:42-45), then running from his father-in-law, Laban (Gen. 31:20,21), he finally ran back to the Lord (Gen. 35:1-3). But two key things had happened to him before he returned to the Lord: He was crippled, and his name was changed! For the rest of his life Jacob was limited in what he could accomplish. It was a daily reminder of his limitations, but also a reminder of the supreme sufficiency of the Lord. The change was so dramatic his name was changed from Jacob, which means “supplanter” to Israel, which means “succeeds with God!”
And not only was his name changed, the change was apparent in a new life! He named the place “Peniel” which means “The face of God!” Yet, even seeing God face-to-face, his life was “preserved” meaning “not snatched away!” And not only did he have a new life, but a new light as well…“the sun rose upon him as he passed over.” And not only a new life and a new light, but a new limp. “He was limping on his thigh!” It was a daily reminder for the rest of his earthly life, that he could no longer depend on himself, but he would operate in the presence and power of the Lord he knew, loved and served!
Verse 32 is not addressed in the Mosaic Law, or anywhere in the Old Testament! Yet, orthodox Jews did this to commemorate Jacob’s discovery that self-sufficiency is not compatible with, or needed for the work of God! The first step in deliverance from constant defeat is this disabling touch of God that prepares us for His purposes.