In Genesis 32 I believe Jacob wrestled with a pre-incarnate Christ who was confronting his unbelief. Through a vision of angels and a message directly from heaven God had promised to bring him back to the promised land and bless him with innumerable seed, including the Messiah (Gen.28:13-15). The angels were visible confirmation of divine protection and supply.
So why the wrestling? It was wrestling in prayer as Hosea 12:3-4 elucidates. Jacob with tears sought to really lay hold on the promise and have it confirmed by Jehovah himself before he would let go his opponent. In what way was and is God our opponent in prayer? Surely if he has promised to bless us we have no need to persuade him! He is of one mind and who can turn him? Perseverance in prayer is portrayed in the lengthy wrestling match, something Christ advocates clearly in the parable of the widow and judge in Luke 18:3-5 and his admonition in Matthew 7:7. Prayer does not change God’s mind (his decree is eternal) but it does change us! He inspires it in us!
Our real enemies in every aspect of our Christian lives are the world, our flesh and the devil who commands hosts of wicked demons. In this situation Jacob’s major opposition was himself, his old sinful nature that he relied upon to dupe others and gain what he needed from them. Even with his presents of droves of animals for Esau he had no assurance he or his family would live another day as his brother undoubtedly had murderous intent (400 men are not for a peace party!) Christ, who wrestles in us by his Spirit wrestled truly and literally as man to man with Jacob and the proof was that he crippled Joseph with a supernatural touch to his hip joint, dislocating it. So God, in Christ, was prevailed upon to bless him and simultaneously he humbled him physically. The fact Jehovah salvation (Jesus) renamed him Israel meant much. From being a heel-holder (meaning of Jacob) he became a prince (meaning of Israel), the third in the famous line of patriarchs and the one who gave his name to all the Old Testament church and even believers today (Gal.6:16). What we see here is the physical realty of what the Spirit of Christ does in God’s people (Gal.5:17). Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor.15:57).