Did you know that Jesus knows Jiu-Jitsu? No, I don’t mean in a purely philosophical sense; I mean joint locking, grappling- Jiu Jitsu! Before I show you some specifics, we first need to understand Typology. Typology (or typological symbolism) is a form of biblical interpretation that proceeds on the assumption that God placed anticipations of Christ in the laws, events, and people of the Old Testament.
Pre-incarnate appearances of the Son of God take place throughout the Old Testament. Terms such as the “angel of the Lord” are used interchangeably with “the Lord” (God) about these visitations. One Christophany (an appearance or non-physical manifestation of Christ) is found in Genesis 18:1–33 when the Lord appeared to Abram in human form. Such tangible encounters with God are scattered throughout the Old Testament (Genesis 16:7–14; 22:11–18; Judges 5:23; 2 Kings 19:35; Daniel 3:25).
Jesus, Himself confirmed that He is in the Old Testament. In John 5:46, He explained to some religious leaders who had challenged Him that the Old Testament was talking about Him: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.”
· The “I Am” in whom Abraham rejoiced was Jesus (John 8:56–58)
· The Lord who motivated Moses was Christ (Hebrews 11:26)
· The Redeemer who brought them out of Egypt was Jesus (Jude 5)
· The Rock in the wilderness was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4)
· The King of Isaiah’s temple vision was the Son (John 12:40–41)
This information, which I highly encourage you to investigate further, demonstrates the extent to which Jesus has and continues to go through to save us. Let’s examine one visitation in more detail in Genesis 32: 22-32 when Jacob wrestled with God.
“During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions. This left Jacob alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked.
He replied, “Jacob.” “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and men and won.” “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said. “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip. 32 (Even today the people of Israel don’t eat the tendon near the hip socket because of what happened that night when the man strained the tendon of Jacob’s hip.)”
This is a fantastic account of Jacob having a physical, hand-to-hand encounter with God. In Verse 23, the Hebrew word for wrestled is אָבַק ('āḇaq) which means to grapple or roll on the ground. So, we know that this was an actual grappling match. As daybreak came near, “the man” had not yet prevailed against Jacob, and in verse 25, we see that he “touched” Jacob’s hip, which is the Hebrew word נָגַע
(nāḡa) which means to strike or overextend. Now we learn that this match, which lasted hours, included a strike or overextension to the hip of Jacob, which gave him a lifelong limp after that encounter.
While the Bible is silent regarding calling the technique used a “Jiu Jitsu” technique because, at this point in history, Japanese Jujitsu or “gentle technique” had not yet been established. Grappling, however, has existed since there were two people capable of rolling around! Only a few hip locks are known in Jiu Jitsu, and adding a strike or firm hyperextension press to any would cause permanent damage to the joint.
The man blessed Jacob by changing his name to Israel, and Jacob named the place of the match Peni-el’, which meant the face of God, for he had encountered Elohim (God), Panim el’ Panim (Face to Face). This man, we fully recognize as the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. The Scripture has no record of anyone wrestling with the Lord after that. Still, in Ephesians 6:12, we’re instructed, “For we wrestle (pale (Greek)/ Grapple) not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Why do we need not fight against one another but with the enemy? Because God blessed the seed of Abraham and the 12 sons of Jacob, who became Israel, and the twelve tribes of whom we are grafted in Ephesians 2:11 and Romans 11:19. If you practice Jiu Jitsu, evaluate the principles to see where they line up with scripture and how you can use them in your spiritual development.
1 Corinthians 9:22 ...I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.