Jacob is coming to realize that apart from the grace of God he would be destroyed. He is experiencing God’s favor because of a covenant made with Another (Abraham). This is a pattern we will see throughout the Bible. It mirrors the fact that God shows us favor because of a legal agreement, a new covenant, made with Another (Jesus Christ) who has negotiated peace on our behalf through His shed blood on the cross.Despite being shown God’s favor, Jacob is still fearful and acts deceptively. He is fearful that he is going to be found out and punished by his father-in-law, Laban, and so he sneaks away towards the home of his parents without allowing Laban to say good-bye to his daughters and grandchildren.
Laban’s intention to harm Jacob is averted because God has intervened on his behalf. In a dream God warned Laban, the Aramean, to be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’(31:29 The Lord was saying, “Jacob is mine. Let me deal with him.”
Jacob confesses to Laban:
Genesis 31:42 42 “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had not been for me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, so He rendered judgment last night.”
Jacob realizes that it is God, not his fearful scheming, that has preserved him and peace is negotiated.
Jacob is also fearful at the prospect of meeting his brother, Esau, whom he has cheated out of his birthright and inheritance.
He seeks to win Esau’s favor. When he travels through Esau’s territory, he arranges a procession with his most disposable possessions in the front in case he is attacked by Esau.
Jacob should not have been afraid. He had heard God’s Word. He had seen the host of angels, God’s camp (Genesis 32:1-2). He need not fear Esau’s host when he was surrounded by a heavenly host.
We are reminded of the time when the great army of the Arameans had surrounded the armies of Israel.
2 Kings 6:14 15 Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
In spite of having God’s promise and having seen angels camping around him, Jacob was afraid of meeting Esau.
Jacob is panicked and distressed. Up until this point, the Lord has taken the initiative to call out to Jacob. Now Jacob calls out to the Lord:
Genesis 32:9-129 Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. 11 “Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. 12 “For You said, ‘I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.'”
Our reading ends with this cliff-hanger. Stay tuned to the next exciting episode of “Jacob, the inexplicable manifestations of grace towards the undeserving sinner.”
Our New Testament reading begins with “…so be not afraid.” When we are being pressed by trials and persecution, we must keep an eternal perspective. Fear God and don’t fear man.
Matthew 10:28 28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
God is sovereign. His eye is on the sparrow. Know that He watches (and cares for) you (Matthew 10:29-31).
Jesus calls for a bold confession. Do not be ashamed of Him, or disown Him, or He will be ashamed of you and disown you before His father in heaven (Matt 10:32-33).
A good bold confession is reasonable in the light of Who Jesus is and what He has done. There is a cost for identifying with Christ. You may be disliked and disowned by family members. If a person is not willing to suffer loss of temporal approval of family, they have not truly recognized who Jesus is.
Matthew 10:37-39 37 ”He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 ”And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.39 ”He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
Jesus is not teaching that His followers should dishonor their parents, or provoke conflicts at home. He is teaching that to know Him as He truly is, Lord and Savior, requires a decision. When we adopt His values, His morals, His goals, His purposes and commands we will inevitably be put at odds with others.
John the Baptist was put in prison for preaching the truth and denouncing the relationship that Herod Antipas was having with Herodias, his brother’s wife. One of the prophecies of the Messiah was that he would set the captive free and John remained in prison for a long time. We can imagine that he was somewhat discouraged and needed assurance that Jesus truly was the Messiah.
Jesus does not respond saying, “Yes, I am the Messiah.” Instead He points John to the authority of the Scriptures and the Messianic prophecies that the Messiah would heal the blind, lame, deaf, leprous and raise the dead (Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:4-6; 61:1-2). Jesus was clearly fulfilling those prophesies. Therefore, John was to believe on the basis of Scripture’s authority.
“How long, O Lord?” Is it any wonder that our God is often referred to as “the God of the 11th hour?” Deliverance is not always instantaneous. The Psalmist reports that he is in need of patience and understanding.
But notice the Psalm’s climax: It no longer matters ‘when’, he knows his deliverance is sure.
Psalm 13:5-6 5 But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. 6 I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Proverbs 3:16-18 16 Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.
PRAYER: Father, help me to recognize the self-sabotaging patterns of my old Jacobean nature and help me to put those patterns to death by reminding me to walk in the Spirit. Cause me to realize the covenant-promises You have given in Your Word, a covenant that has been ratified with the shed blood of Your holy Son, Jesus.
Thank You Lord Jesus, that You loved me and gave Yourself for me (Galatians 2:20). You paid for my sins, assure me of Your forgiveness and Your unfailing presence. Help me to so fear You, in holy reverence, that I will not fear what others might think or do.
Holy Spirit, cause me to be a bold witness for Christ, loving You, the Triune God, more than my own life, my own reputation, my own flesh and blood relations, and my own dreams and aspirations. Help me this day to glorify Your Name! Amen.