Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin
Dispensation of Promise. What is the socket of your thigh?
We continue our study with Gen 32. Now, this passage is often quoted as an illustration of Jacob’s earnestness in prayer and it is nothing of the sort. Actually this passage is an illustration God’s devotion and dedication to take from us all that hinders our relationship with Him while we resist Him with our human power, human plans and human schemes. It was not that Jacob wished to obtain something from God but that the Lord had some strife and struggle with this double-dealing crafty child of His.
The Lord was desirous to break up and destroy Jacob’s self-sufficiency forever and to begin the development of the people of Israel. For this is the next dispensation which we are getting ready to note, the dispensation of Israel or the Jews. There was much in Jacob that needed to be broken and laid aside. There was much self-sufficiency in him requiring for him to be broken down! So, the faithfulness and the love of God drew near to him on this over burdened and anxious night, to wrestle these things from him at whatever cost.
Jacob was not wrestling with this Man to obtain a blessing, instead, the Man was wrestling with Jacob to gain some objective from him. And the objective was to reduce Jacob to a sense of his nothingness and to cause him to see what a poor, helpless and worthless creature he was. It was to teach us through him that all important lesson that in recognizing our weakness lies our strength.
As the apostle Paul said in 2Co 12:10, Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Now, notice that it says in Gen 32:24, Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
There are those who have taken exception to the view that this was the Lord Jesus Christ and who argue that if it was God who was wrestling with Jacob for the purpose of bringing him to a sense of his impotency and helplessness then He wouldn’t have had to wrestle with him all night. Now, this is an important point, why? Because this wrestling match was not designed to hurt Jacob but to teach him. And such objections as this lose sight of the tremendous patience that the Lord has toward us and that He exercises toward His own and how He is longsuffering.
In fact, it is because the Lord is filled with lovingkindness and truth that He can be so patient with each and every one of us. Think of how patient the Lord has been with you over the years! As Psa 86:15 says, But Thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger [patient and longsuffering] and abundant in lovingkindness and doctrine.
Patience and longsuffering is also related to the compassion of the Lord, in Psa 103:8. Because He is compassionate He operates in patience and longsuffering. Psa 103:8, The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger [patient and longsuffering] and abounding in lovingkindness.
Patience and longsuffering is related to the power or omnipotence of God, Nahum 1:3. When you have perfect power and omnipotence, you are not so concerned with how things turn out. You know that at any moment you have the power to do what has to be done. Nah 1:3, The Lord is slow to anger [patient And longsuffering] and great in power. The patience and longsuffering of God is related to the principle of repentance, Rom 2:4, Psa 18:35. Many believers throughout the ages can testify with David in Ps 18:35, that the gentleness of the Lord has made them great or matured.
Psa 18:35, Thou hast also given me the shield of Thy salvation, And Thy right hand upholds me; And Thy gentleness makes me great.
Rom 2:4, Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
The Lord is very sensitive and compassionate to those who are guilty and need to repent! The patience and longsuffering of God is related to the Lord’s tolerance and endurance with us, 1Ti 1:16, And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
So, in this passage, we have a picture of our Lord’s perfect patience toward the wicked sinner! And this is one of the reasons why our Lord let the struggle go on! His patience and longsuffering allows Him to bear with us but, in the end, He accomplishes His purpose and grace always triumphs. The delay only serves to provide opportunity for Him to display His infinite forbearance.
So Gen 32:24-25, Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 32:25 And when He [the Lord Jesus Christ] saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.
Jacob is now brought to the point where human devices and human ingenuity can no longer serve him purpose. His own schemes and cleverness that he always relied on now prove to be inadequate. Jacob has only the Lord left in this extremity and he learns that even though it costs him something, namely a physical disability for life, that this hard struggle paid off and he learns to cast himself upon the mercy of God. And this will leave its’ mark upon him for the rest of his life.
Now, what does this mean in verse 25, “when he saw that he had not prevailed against him”? The Lord saw that He could not prevail against Jacob! Now, this statement does not challenge God’s omnipotence but it does effectively portray the power of prayer. And here’s another one of those important principles, God does allow the prayers of men to be mighty and meaningful in His sight. This is why I’ve taught you that prayers are a part of the divine decrees! Remember that according to Hosea’s commentary, Hos 12:4, this “wrestling” on Jacob’s part involved weeping and supplication, as well as physical tenacity and contact.
Hos 12:4, Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor. He found Him at Bethel, And there He spoke with us,
In fact, Hosea compared Jacob’s holding to the Angel with his determination in holding onto his brother’s heel as he was born, both testifying of his great desire to be the recipient of God’s greatest blessings and responsibilities.
Hos 12:3-4, In the womb he took his brother by the heel, And in his maturity he contended with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor. He found Him at Bethel, And there He spoke with us,
So, when God saw that He could not prevail against Jacob, He finally gave him the blessing that he sought. This, of course, does not suggest that God was weaker than Jacob, but does show that God desires men to persist in prayer and that He delights to yield to such prayers.
So, as we continue our passage in Gen 32 let’s make sure that we understand what happened. Again Gen 32:24 says, Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. It’s not until Jacob is left alone with the Lord that his named is changed to Israel, a prince with God. Remember that “to be left alone with God” is the only true way of arriving at an accurate knowledge of ourselves and our ways through objective evaluation from residual doctrine. Jacob needed to have his “human-strength” battered out of him. Remember that Jacob has been relying on human strength, human power, human viewpoint, human gimmicks, to try and get blessings in life as well as to try and solve his problems! Jacob also needed to be made conscious of his standing with God so that he would stop conniving, plotting, scheming, and using human solutions to try and solve his problems. Therefore, God initiates this wrestling match which ends in the defeat of the “old” Jacob.
It is God who will “touch the socket of his hip” and Jacob’s hip will be dislocated while he wrestled with him. And it is God who breaks the stubborn, willful, self-reliant Jacob and brings him to his senses. This means that TLJC is dealing directly and personally with Jacob to change his life and to give him a new name signifying a change in his character. It is God who is wrestling with Jacob not Jacob with God. The reason why this wrestling match took place was not because Jacob wished to obtain something from God but that the Lord had some strife and struggle with this double-dealing crafty child of His. Jacob was not wrestling with this Man to obtain a blessing, instead, the Man was wrestling with Jacob to gain some objective from him.
The objective was to reduce Jacob to a sense of his nothingness and to cause him to see what a poor, helpless and worthless creature he was. The objective was also to teach us through him that all important lesson that in recognized weakness lies our strength. Gen 32:25, And when he [TLJC] saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Notice that the Lord touched the hollow of his thigh.
Whatever it is that prohibits a person from receiving God’s highest and best and stands in his way, God will touch it. It may be money! It may be a business! It may be a job! It may even be a relationship or friendship! However, if it is hindering your spiritual growth, it will not be spared, God will touch it! As Heb 12:27 says there will be the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
It may be something as minute as the socket of your hip or thigh but if it robs a man of spiritual blessing, God will touch it. For Jacob, it was the socket of his thigh, a small thing but its influence in making Jacob strong in his resistance of blessing was the reason that God condemned it. This is why you should ask God to show you what the socket of your thigh is or that which hinders your relationship with God. And by that I mean the strong things in your life for strength can be a hindrance just like weakness can! And you should ask Him to touch or to reveal it to you so that you shall not be able to hold out anymore against His will for your life! And this passage brings out another important lesson!
Notice that Gen 32:25 says, so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. It seemed to be a defeat for Jacob but it was not! And the principle is that there are times that we are apparently unsuccessful but in reality we are really most successful. It’s just that according to the world, it looks like we have been defeated when in reality we have been promoted. The point is that we may not obtain the very thing we seek after at the time, but the spiritual strength we acquire in the effort may be infinitely more important than the thing itself. All during Jacob’s life had been the struggle of a clever and strong and self-confident and self-sufficient person, who would always use his strength and wit to overcome others! However, in this wrestling match, God desired to break his strength and wisdom in order to bestow upon him divine strength and divine wisdom.
For many believers, there are times when God intervenes between us and a greatly desired goal which we have been seeking to attain and counting upon as we place all of our human efforts into it. In fact, the expectation of accomplishing these goals or possessions have determined our decisions and even shaped our life in a dramatic way! And in some cases, it even seems as if God has been encouraging us to achieve these goals! And then, like Jacob, when it is nearly within reach, and when we are ready to seize the opportunity, we are seized by a strong an irresistible hand, the hand of God. Why?
Many times the reason is that God wishes us to be in such a state of mind that we shall receive it as His gift so that it becomes ours totally by the power and the grace of God.
1Co 1:29, that no man should boast before God.
Jer 9:23-24, Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, “declares the Lord.
Many believers, for example, desire to attain their escrow blessings for time and eternity, and they are dedicated and devoted to do so. However, there’s a tendency to fall into the trap of thinking that this accomplishment depends solely on their own endurance, therefore God intervenes. And they end up with obstacles in their path that they did not expect...obstacles that even seem to come from God. And so then the questioning comes in....does God really want me to do this or accomplish this? And I in the right place for my life? And in many cases it is simply because of the fact that he does not want any help from us whatsoever and that He desires it to be performed but by His might and power! We need to learn that very vital lesson of Zec 4:6, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
Now, what I’m saying to you is that many believers forget that the possibility of them receiving God’s highest and best which they long for is not decided by their readiness to pass through any ordeal, spiritual or physical, which may be required of them, but by God’s power and willingness to give it.
Now, don’t misunderstand me! I’m not saying that they do this willingly and knowingly, I am saying that it is a very subtle thing that the believer can fall into without even recognizing it! In the life of such believers there must therefore come a time when their own energy seems to collapse and they are now in a hopeless helpless situation forced to rely totally upon the intervention and power of God! And in reality they have experienced a spiritual dislocation.
In that hour the believer learns the most valuable truth he can learn concerning this which is Rom 9:16, So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
Gen 32:25, And when he [the Lord Jesus Christ] saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.
Alright we’re ready for a summary of this verse:
- In choosing and arranging the present for his brother Esau, we see the character and activities of the “flesh” deceiving and scheming. 2. In Jacob’s experience with this Wrestler we are shown the worthlessness and helplessness of the “flesh.” 3. We also learn from this passage that our nothingness can be discovered only we get “alone” with God. 4. The fact that the wrestling match lasted all night is a picture of the patience that God exercises toward us and the slowness of His process in dealing with our human nature experientially. 5. In the touching of “the socket of Jacob’s thigh” we see the method God pursues with us which is to bring us to a vivid realization of our utter helplessness. 6. Many times that which hinders us in our spiritual growth is not so much our weakness but our natural strength. 7. The laming of Jacob’s thigh represents the weakening of the strong part of the old sin nature which can hinder our relationship with God. 8. The failure of his natural power is the turning-point in this wrestling match and it symbolizes the transition in Jacob’s life and character from reliance upon self to reliance upon God, his divine Antagonist. 9. If we are ever to become like Jacob, a prince with God, dependence on self must be broken and lamed in order that we may grasp the hand that smites us and find divine power for our weakness. 10. At first Jacob held his own, the “Lord saw that He prevailed not against him”, therefore, the Lord must take some severe measures which will give us no alternative but to give in.
The strength that years before had rolled the stone from the well for Rachel’s sheep, was still vigorous. And we do the same in our own way. We resist the love of God at times! We carry out our own plans! We follow our own will! We do things our way! We are strong in our own self-sufficiency!
As the Lord said to Peter in Joh 21:18,“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.”
Each one of us have had many experiences where we have held on to human power and resisted divine guidance and the Lord knows that He cannot prevail against us, without taking some severe measures which will give us no alternative but to give in!