God in Hostile Form

A man wrestled with [Jacob] until the breaking of the day.
GENESIS 32:24
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God in Hostile Form
The chief significance of this story, then, is the example of perfect saints and of temptations in high degree, not against flesh, blood, the devil, and a good angel but against God appearing in hostile form. For although Jacob does not know who this man is, he nevertheless feels that he has been forsaken by God or that God is opposed to him and angry with him. . .. For Moses wrote the story as Jacob recounted it, like this, no doubt: "Suddenly he attacked, and a man fell upon me." This was a shape, or an appearance. But he does not discuss who that man was, because he does not know. But later, when he sees his back, he recognizes him and says: "I have seen the Lord face to face." That attack, accordingly, was the same as if a great strong man had fallen upon him and attacked him. Who it was, he did not know. Jacob himself was a man of regular strength with powers intact such as are usually found in a sound and strong body. Although he fought without sword and arms, he offered stout resistance. He still had a degree of faith in the promise. Although he was alarmed, his thoughts had not yet reached finality and become conclusions. His faith was, indeed, assailed and tried, but he still held to this conclusion firmly: "I have the promise."
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