|LATE BREAKING NEWS: Christopher passed his driving test, we now have another driver in our family. He is proud as anything.
I am so like Jacob. God can give me good guidance, He can change my name, attitude, position, way of thinking, and yet, parts of the old cling. He loves us anyway, but I bet at times, just like we do with our kids, he wonders why we don’t get it. I am so glad that He is patient and He knows our frame, knows that we were made of dust and loves us through our tough times. Remember that from now on we will see two names being used:
Jacob – when Jacob is acting in the flesh, not according to God’s best.
Jacob lifts his eyes and sees Esau and 400 men coming. So here is his plan. He divides his children among Leah, Rachel and the two maid servants and gives the following the marching orders:
Maidservants and their children in front – That means Bilhah with Dan and Naphtali. Zilpah with Gad and Asher.
Then Jacob sends out Leah with Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
Then Jacob sends out Rachel with Joseph.
I want to go mmmm, mmmm, mmmm. Can you even imagine what must go through the minds of these moms and their kids. Who does Jacob care the most about? The others have to be feeling pretty much like chopped liver, and I wonder what the repercussions of this will be in later life. You will see that the brothers do not have a fondness for Joseph. But my heart goes out to poor Leah, at least she wasn’t in the front lines but she obviously wasn’t the favorite.
THEN Jacob goes out. One would think that if you had wrestled with God, seen his face and not died, that a bit more courage would have been in order. But I am not in Jacob’s sandals, and I don’t know his thinking.
Jacob had twice done Esau wrong (that does not condone Esau’s cheapening of the blessing by accepting a pot of lentils for it). I have noted that when my conscience is pricked, I tend to over react and read things into situations that aren’t there. God, in a remarkably few amount of words, has shown so much human dynamism and motivation that it just blows me away. I keep praying that I will learn from the Bible, not the school of hard knocks.
So the advance troops of wives and kids were not massacred, so Jacob finally walks in more courage in verse 3 “Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.”
Don’t forget, Jacob had obtained the blessing and Isaac was still alive, theoretically the bowing should have been the other way around. Jacob is not acting too patriarchal here, but at the same time there is a humility in his actions, and I think that he really has repented of what he did to Esau.
I love Esau’s reaction, verse 4 “But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”
Esau is still the flamboyant one, but I am glad that the reunion was so positive.
Esau notices the wives and children. Even though they went before Jacob, Esau had eyes only for Jacob. Jacob replies, verse 5 “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.”
Then there is a massive bowing festival, that kind of reminds me of the King and I when all the children are presented to Anna.
Esau then asks about all the gifts sent before, and Jacob says that they were sent to find favor in Esau’s eyes.
Note Esau’s response: Verse 9 “But I have enough, my brother, keep what you have for yourself.”
Notice the difference between the two men:
Jacob: The children whom GOD has graciously given your servant.
Jacob acknowledges God’s gifts, Esau does not mention God, just himself.
Jacob responds to Esau, verses 10 “Now please, if I have found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I have seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me. Of course, Esau does accept the gifts in the end.
Jacob, Jacob, Jacob you did see the face of God, Esau does not fit that criterion. I know the heart of what he is saying, and I say this with the sure knowledge that I have also at times been strengthened by God and then turned around and acted the old way. I don’t know if this is just politeness on Jacob’s part, but God’s favor is the greater thing.
Then Jacob says something that surprised me, verse 11 “Please take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” So he urged him, and he took it.”
This is the blessing that Jacob cheated and stole for now he is giving it back. I am pretty sure it is the blessing of the numbers of herds, but the blessing is not Jacob’s to give, but God’s. Yet Jacob did the right thing, he shared his blessing with Esau – Jacob gave because he was so blessed by God.
Now Jacob still has a bit of the conniver in him. Esau wanted Jacob to travel with him, but Jacob tells Esau that the children are weak and the flocks have nursing animals, He tells Esau to go ahead, and that Jacob will follow at a slower pace, until Jacob comes to Seir (near the Dead Sea) where Esau resides.
Esau offers to leave some people with Jacob. Again, Jacob refuses that saying that he had no need of them. Esau leaves Jacob and returns to Seir.
Where does Jacob go? verse 17 And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, built himself a house, and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. Succoth means tent town. This is on the heathen side of the Jordan River, and Jacob is the first patriarch to be linked with a house. Sometimes when we set down roots in an area it can lead to backsliding – which is probably why God wants us to keep stepping out in faith, forging new territory. Jacob never planned to join his brother in Seir.
Finally Jacob crossed over the Jordan and went to Shechem, in the land of Canaan. He is finally where he should be, but just barely. This camp is still too near the gentiles and Jacob will face repercussions for not going whole heartedly into Canaan. Jacob pitches a tent and buys a parcel of land from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father for 100 pieces of money. Jacob builds an altar and calls it El Elohe Israel – God, the God of Israel.
Although Jacob was in Canaan, Shechem was a terrible place, a carnal, evil place. Like when Lot pitched his tent near Sodom, Jacob’s tent is too near carnality. It will take a tragedy to bring Jacob where he should be. Stay tuned, next chapter, another day…
I keep praying that God helps me to learn and change so that I do not have to have tragedies to cause me to go where God wants me to go.
A few thoughts from Beth Moore’s The Patriarchs She points out that Esau ran and Jacob limped, and on page 153 “Beloved, sometimes God will wound His own child to make him walk differently while the profane and ungodly seem to run with endless confidence and vitality. We are to walk as people who have encountered God, and some of the most transforming encounters are wrestling matches. Dear One, the lost do not wrestle with God nearly as much as we who belong to Him. The profane and ungodly don’t care enough to wrestle. We who are His often wrestle with Him the most, and at times we also seem to hurt the most.”
Oh can I relate to this. I wrestle with God a lot, although now it is a lot less than before. But it is because I care that I reach out to Him with doubts and fears.
Beth goes on p. 153 “Both wrestling and embracing are ordinarily face-to-face actions that involve holding onto one another–albeit with different motivations. In our Jacob-like relationship with God, wrestling and embracing are often separated by the thinnest thread. I’ve wrestled with God many times until the last thread of my resistance breaks. Then I fall sobbing into His arms in desperate embrace, submitting to His will.”
Have you ever wrestled that passionately, I know I sure have?
Here is another great quote, p. 153 “Like Jacob, our promised lands are practically under our noses when we’re closest to the ground. Bowed down.”
Beth quotes from a book called The Beginning of Wisdom p154 “But confronting Esau is more than a practical inevitability; it is also a moral imperative. Failure to settle accounts with Esau and to make amends for his conniving past would leave a permanent blot on Jacob’s supremacy. It would also cast grave doubts on his fitness as the next patriarch under covenant. For under God’s new way–in contrast to the uninstructed human way–a man cannot properly take his father’s place by denying or destroying his father’s other sons, that is, his brothers…Thus, when a man fights with his brother, he is indirectly fighting with his father.”
In the New Testament God also talks about making amends – in 1 John 4:20-21 “If someone says, “I love God” and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: That he who loves God must love his brother also.
And Matthew 5:23-24 that we must be reconciled to our brother before we offer gifts to God.
And Beth Moore points out that we Christians are blood brothers and sisters in a most significant way.
I am hoping you have a blessed day. Christopher takes his driving test at 11 tomorrow morning, I pray that he passes, but also that he drives safely.
Have a blessed day.
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