1.In Genesis 32:11 we read, “Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children.” Why did Jacob fear Esau?
Why did Jacob fear Esau? He had heard the promises of G-d and experienced the blessings of G-d so why do we see him here overcome with fear?
Maybe he was feeling guilt for what he had done to Esau. Maybe he thought Esau had held on to his anger for 20 + years. Remember Rebecca had said she would send for him when Esau’s anger cooled. Yet she never did. So maybe his anger never cooled. It could have been a number of things. So it is hard to settle on one.
Rather than trying to find one reason I would like us to look at how he could be fearful knowing G-d was with him. This question brought me to think of my own life and to take a look at those things I might fear. By extension I want you to look at your own life to see if there is anything that you fear.
What is the effect of that fear? I expect in all our cases, it always come to a problem of trust or faith. Do we trust G-d or do we hedge our bets by trying to deal with our fears in our own strength.
How are we to deal with these things? Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” In scripture it says, “Do not fear,” over 350 times.
So why do we fear? We don’t trust Him. We are afraid to let go, afraid G-d won’t catch us. In Matthew 17:20Yeshua speaks about faith. He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
My prayer for us is that our faith increase, that we can believe because our faith is in the immeasurable G-d of the universe, that we can rise above those things that hinder us and like Peter be able to put our foot out of the boat on the water.
2.If G-d promises us something what would cause us to doubt it or should doubt ever enter into our spirit? Can a divine promise be canceled?
Say G-d promises you a ministry to carry out. What should you do? Are you to sit back and wait for it? Just spend time, money and effort on your own personal wants and desires. Will this promise come about?
Or, when we receive a promise from G-d are we to set about preparing to receive that promise? Should we begin to discipline ourselves to study, pray and possibly conserve our resources so that when the time comes we are ready to step into the promises of G-d?
We are required to put forth an effort. This is really one of the outcomes of the sin of Adam and Eve. G-d created man perfect with only one restriction. Evil existed in the world but was external to man. However, when Adam ate from the tree he “ingested” evil in that it entered his world, his character and his being. What was G-d’s response? Genesis 3:17 He then had to work. He had to work at separating good from evil in himself. We still struggle. G-d uses things in our lives to show us those areas where the remnants of Eden need to be separated and our character perfected one step at a time.
I think this was the root of Jacob’s plea in his doubts. Was he still worthy of the promises that G-d had made to him. Now we can choose to rely on G-d’s promises and put no effort of our own into it but that effort will be required again somewhere. Jacob could have avoided meeting his brother Esau and choose to deal with him later in his life but he didn’t. Have we ever done that? Jacob stood up to the challenge and set a precedent for all of us to follow. He sought to perfect his spiritual character here and be worthy of the promise G-d had made to him.
3.We read in Genesis 32:22-24, “And he rose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.” What is the spiritual significance of the phrase, “Jacob was left alone;”
All his stuff made no difference when it came down to this encounter with G-d.
In the end he was left alone. For him and for us it is alone in the wilderness where we finally meet G-d. When he was stripped of all pretense and anything to which to run does he meet G-d. So it is with us. But for him it was still a struggle. He had relied on his own cunning for years.
I have always wondered why the angel chose to injure Jacob in his thigh. If you look at his past, Jacob fled from his brother. Then he secretly left with his family from Laban’s land. Maybe G-d was telling him his running days were over. It was time for Jacob to stand and face his brother. With this injury he could no longer run. His struggle with the angel changed Jacob from being a follower of men to being the beginning of the nation of Israel.
Jacob found himself in a situation that was beyond his control. Control is a big problem for most of us. We live under the illusion that we can work everything out in our own power and understanding.
He had made every plan, split the herds up, sent a present to Esau and put his family out of harms way as much as possible. But still Esau was coming with 400 men. Jacob was left alone.
G-d brought this change in his life through something as earthly as a wrestling match. This brought to a head the battle that had been going on with Jacob his whole life. He could not continue to run from his problems.
This battle left him with both victory and defeat. His defeat was in his flesh, namely the limp that he carried as a reminder for the rest of his life. I am sure each step after this encounter reminded him of what had happened. This had not been some dream that might grow dim His hip reminded him it had actually happened.
Our flesh has been defeated by our encounter with G-d through Yeshua. Sometimes it takes us a process to fully realize that defeat. In fact in the Messianic scripture Paul talks of the struggle between flesh and spirit but in truth the battle was won at our encounter with G-d.
The victory that Jacob received was that a new man emerged from this encounter. We also are new creations. So, as we read of this experience of Jacob’s life I pray that it encourages us as we meet each challenge that comes into our life.
G-d is our hope and our only hope, not how smart we are or how much we have, only Him.
4.Jacob prayed to G-d, sent huge gifts to Esau. He divided his camp in two so that even if one were destroyed the other might survive. He covered every eventuality, adopted every strategy, anticipated every outcome except one that actually happened – the appearance of an unnamed adversary who fought with him. Times of crisis come to us all. Is it possible to prepare for those times? Can we learn anything from Jacob’s story on how to handle crises in our lives?
Crises happen and there is no way we can make ourselves immune to them. Faith is not certainty. Faith in G-d gives us courage to live with uncertainty. There is one thing we do not know and never will; what tomorrow will bring.
We do know the wrestling match was a picture of Jacob’s inner conflict, the result of his fear and distress. I think Jacob was wrestling with himself and that is where the real battle takes place. If we can win the battle “in here” then we can win it “out there.”
We are here because G-d wanted us to be. He loves us and understands us, forgives us when we acknowledge our mistakes. This is where true self confidence is born. “The L-rd is with me, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalms 118:6
Perhaps G-d was teaching Jacob how to wrestle with his fears and defeat them. A strong person is one who can master his own impulses. Proverbs 16:22 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules over his spirit than he who conquers a city.
What actually happened the next day? Esau ran to meet him. There was no anger, no violence. Everything Jacob feared failed to happen. I believe Torah is teaching that once Jacob resolved the conflict within himself he removed the source of tension between himself and Esau.
Jacob limped after the fight. Crisis can bring real suffering and can cut deep. There can be wounds. Maybe you limp along for a while but the wound says you fought and won.
Sometimes events in our lives are painful but they can teach us a truth about ourselves. Jacob taught us we cannot pre-empt crisis, but we can survive it and thus become worthy of bearing the name of one who struggled with G-d and with men and prevailed.