Torah Portion: Vayishlach Genesis 32:4-36:43
HafTorah: Hosea 11:7-12:12, Obadiah 1:1-21
Matthew 26:36-46, Hebrews 11:11-20
Tonight we look at the Torah section that brings Jacob back to the Land. It covers his reunion with his brother as well as the death of his first love, Rachel.
I want us to look at a couple of things that I think the L-rd has for us tonight. First I want to explore the last question that I sent out to you. 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? Remember he had recently dealt with Laban who also persecuted him yet he showed no fear in this meeting. So why here? 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 look at those things that I fear. By extension I want you to look at your own life to see if there is anything that you fear. And then what is the effect of that fear. In my case, and 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.
In my case it is something I fear losing. Not something material but something even more dear. How are we to deal with these things? Isaiah 41:10 is a good place to start. “Do not fear for I am with you.” In fact 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 He won’t catch us. In Matthew 17:20 Yeshua speaks about faith. My prayer for you and me 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.
Now to the struggle of Jacob with the angel of G-d; how can we look at this as a parallel to our own walk? In fact it is a good example of the first point. In Genesis 32:24 the Torah speaks of Jacob being left alone. Jacob had come to the end of himself. There was no one around to help. It was him and G-d. Wasn’t it that way for us all? Sure someone helps us along the way but when it comes to it it is us and G-d. Do we trust or not? Do we believe or not? No one can make the decision for us. In the end it is us and G-d and even then it is a struggle. Do we believe or don’t we? It isn’t logical, it isn’t something we can see or touch. So how do we cross over? By faith. Jacob struggled with G-d and in the end received a new name, Israel. When we cross over we become a new creation. (II Cor. 5:17) And even more cool, we are adopted into Jacob’s faith now called Israel, we are grafted into that cultivated tree. Faith, whether it is the first step or later in our walk, it comes to the same thing. Have faith in G-d.