Torah Portion: Vayishlach (He Sent) B’Resheet (Gen.) 32:4-36:43

HafTorah: Hosea 11:7-12:12, Obadiah 1:1-21

In Genesis 32:12 we read Jacob’s prayer for deliverance from Esau. What is odd about this prayer? In Genesis 28:15 and in Genesis 31:3 we read where G-d promises him that He will return him, bless him and do good for him. Now the blessing in Genesis 28:15 occurs 20 years or so in the past so maybe it had grown dim in Jacob’s memory but here the last blessing where G-d reinforces His blessing is very recent. Jacob surely remembered it. So why was he afraid of Esau? 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?

Let us explore a possible answer. As believers we are all called to grow in our spiritual life and character. The promised outcome is that we will grow closer to the Father and more like Him each day. We are to be His mirror to the world. We are to allow Him to perfect us each day. So how do we handle things that G-d allows into our lives to perfect us? For example, we have a boss who is really difficult. He puts us down or is just hard to be around. How do we handle it? Usually we major on what is wrong with the boss. We don’t normally look at it as what is G-d saying to me. Is there a part of us, a trait that G-d is trying to perfect? Maybe our pride gets in the way or we lose patience easily with this person. So what is a way to grow through this? Examine what G-d is trying to show you. Especially in work situations, G-d provides us our income really, so work’s challenges are there to perfect our spiritual character. Without it we never get to where He wants us to be.

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 out comes 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.

I pray that each of us examine our lives for those difficult things that G-d has allowed into our path. See what He is saying to us through it and meet the challenge head on as Jacob did. We can’t be passive about the promises that the Father has given us. We must do our part, put forth the effort so that we are ready when the promise is fulfilled.