After Jacob and Uncle Laban concluded their meeting in an amicable way, Jacob’s journey is stopped by angels of God. Jacob desires to provide for his own family, and God wants to fulfill that desire, but there is sin in Jacob’s life that must be dealt with first.
“When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for he takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?”
Jacob had a good desire, but the unpaid vow leaves God little choice but to “destroy the work” of Jacob’s hands. God sent the angels to minister to Jacob. If Jacob will receive it, they have the answer to Jacob’s sin problem.
Jacob has good intentions, but the desire to do the right thing is not strong enough to conquer the evil that resides in all of us. The Apostle Paul described the battle in Romans Chapter 7.
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”
Jacob knew keeping his vow was the right thing to do, but could not find the strength to keep his end of the deal. While waiting Esau’s arrival to verify if he could return home without his brother killing him, he arose in the middle of the night and sent his family to a safe place.
Jacob is alone with his thoughts and the Bible says “a man wrestled with him till day break.” The heading of this passage in my NIV bible says he wrestled with God. The heading in my Chronological Bible says he wrestled with an Angel. These are generally accepted views in Christianity, but I don’t believe he wrestled with God or an Angel. The Hebrew word translated man in Genesis 32:24 means “a man”, not a divine being.
Jacob wrestled with himself. The New Testament tells us to put off the “old man”. He was up all night trying to put off the “old man”, which is corrupted by our deceitful lusts. When the Angel saw that Jacob could not prevail against the old man, he point to the problem. The Angel touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh knocking it out of joint.
Covenants are established by vows. Vows were made by placing a hand upon the thigh. Jacob cannot overcome the sinful old man because his thoughts are out of joint regarding the covenant God made with Jacob’s ancestors and the covenant Jacob made with God at Bethel. God knows Jacob is headed for disaster. The disaster could be avoided if Jacob renewed his mind regarding the covenant God made with Abraham and if he kept the unnecessary vow he made at Bethel.
Esau arrived overjoyed to see his brother again. Jacob could have returned to his father’s house as God commanded him. Instead he limped his way to Shechem and bought land. He had no intention of returning home or keeping the vow he made at Bethel, but he built another altar and continued to offer insincere worship to God.
 All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.
 Ecclesiastes 5:4-6, NASB
 Hebrews 1:14
 Romans 7:15-17
 H376, אישׁ, ‘ı̂ysh, eesh, Contracted for H582 (or perhaps rather from an unused root meaning to be extant); a man as an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation.) : – also, another, any (man), a certain, + champion, consent, each, every (one), fellow, [foot-, husband-] man, (good-, great, mighty) man, he, high (degree), him (that is), husband, man [-kind], + none, one, people, person, + steward, what (man) soever, whoso (-ever), worthy. Compare H802.
 Romans 6:6
 Ephesians 4:22
 Genesis 33:18-19