The Strength of Belief in Divine Promises

Pentecost 22 Wednesday

Genesis 32:25

“And when the Man saw that he could not overcome Jacob, he touched his hip joint; and his hip joint was dislocated as he wrestled with him.”

Jacob is stronger than the Man who wrestled with him–not that he is in reality stronger than the Lord, but the well-being of the person is preserved here. For the Lord did not exert greater power than a human person would usually be able to exert; he only wants to test the strength and ability of a single man while he, as the Lord, is actually stronger. And, in truth, I would not want to wrestle with a believing man who has divine promises, even if I were a strong giant; for in that man nature works beyond its natural abilities. Therefore, God does not show his full power, but only as much skill and
understanding as is proper for a strong man. At the same time, God also brings along a horrible temptation of the spirit which truly strengthens Jacob so that he wrestles beyond his own ability. For no man, when he is healthy and at peace, can do what nature does when it is in hardship and burdened. When nature is weakened and works into death, it can overcome all burdens which it otherwise would not be able to endure. This is why they normally say when the battle is
over and the hard hits are past, when they come to: “Alas, how tired and weak I am.” For it follows that man becomes weak and tired in all his faculties after nature has labored beyond its abilities…Thus, this Man, who was Christ our Lord, wrestled with Jacob in just the same way in which a man wrestles with another. Yet when the Lord saw that Jacob was stronger, especially in his faith which God does not like to resist, he used a special trick which the fighters are accustomed to by striking Jacob on his hip joint…He used pressure to paralyze the leg. These are the tricks of the fighters…Jacob, however, did not feel that his joint had been touched in this way because he was caught in such great terror. For the senses and reason of a man in temptation are confused and distraught so that he is unable to notice
anything and cannot hear or see anything. And this usually happens when spiritual temptations of the kind Jacob experienced at the time are added. This is why he does not stop wrestling even though his hip joint is dislocated.

Walch ed., 2:1154-1158.

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