Genesis 32:1 – 33:4 (selected verses)

1 So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is God’s camp.” And he called the name of that place Mahanaim. 3 Then Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 And he commanded them saying “Speak thus to my lord Esau, ‘Thus your servant Jacob says “I have dwelt with Laban and stayed there until now. 5 I have oxen, donkeys, flocks and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favour in your sight.”‘” 6 Then the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him” 7 So Jacob was afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him into two companies 8 And he said, “If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the other company will escape.” 9 Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’: 10 “I am not worthy of the least of all these mercies and of all the truth which You have shown to Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, 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, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. 12 For You said ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude” 13 so he lodged there that same night, and took what came to his hand as a present for Esau his brother… 16 Then he delivered them to the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass over before me, and put some distance between successive droves.” 17 Then he commanded the first one saying, “When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, saying ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you going? Whose are these in front of you?’ 18 “then you shall say, ‘They are your servant Jacob’s. It is a present sent to my lord Esau; and behold he is behind us'” 19 So he commanded the second, the third, and all who followed the droves, saying “In this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him; 20 “and and also say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob is behind us.’ For he said, “I will appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” 21 So the present went on over before him, but he himself lodged that night in the camp….
33:1 Now Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and there, Esau was coming, and with him were four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maidservants. 2 And he put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last. 3 Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. 4 But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.
Jacob was in a desperate position. He had deceived his brother Esau of his inheritance (Genesis 27), and fled to Padan Aram in the land of Canaan to spend time with his uncle – Laban. There the Lord blessed him greatly. However, the time came when the Lord told him to return to the land of his family (Genesis 31:13).
However we see from the passage that while on his way, Jacob decided to send a message of kindness to his brother. He thought this may be a way of appeasing him, especially knowing that Esau has hated him for his deception (Genesis 27:41-45). However, from verse 6, we see that Jacob had cause for great concern. Can you imagine that the sibling who you deceived, is coming your way with 400 men! Jacob feared for his very life (verse 7).
Let me just say that it is interesting to note that after following God’s instruction, Jacob now (at least in his own mind) faced imminent danger. Sometimes the Lord will lead us in a similar way – a way we cannot understand. However, He has everything in control, so trust Him.
Jacob proceeds to plan a way of escape. However although he acts out of fear, he does something that we MUST learn from. He prays, and reminds God of His promises. Look at verse 9…”the Lord who said…return.” He reminded God of what He said. This is a powerful key to effective prayer! In effect, he is saying “Lord, You said I should return, and now Lord it’s up to you to help me!” We must be like Jacob and make sure that we know God’s promises and take Him at His word, so that we too can go back to him and say “You said…!” For example, in our sickness – “Lord, You said that by the stripes of Jesus Christ I am healed” (Isaiah 53:5). When you need God to provide – “You said Lord Jesus that You came to give me life, and life more abundantly” (John 10:10). When you feel lonely – “You said that You will never leave me nor forsake me Lord” (Hebrews 13:5). On and on it goes! It’s all about knowing what God says in the Bible, and living by it.
Jacob does it again in verse 12, referring to Genesis 28:13-15, when God made a covenant with him, like He did with his father Isaac, and grandfather Abraham. In the present age, we have an even better covenant than this – a covenant of salvation with God through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:22).
When you are in a situation and do not know what to do, look to God and His word in faith, and pray – reminding Him of His promises and instruction to you…”God, you said…!” Recently I was in a very difficult situation. I went to a particular passage and held it up to the sky and said “Lord, this is what I prayed for…and it’s not happening like that!” I smile to myself as I remember!
Anyway (!), as we see in Genesis 33:4, God made a way for Jacob, and caused Esau to make peace with him. Not even Jacob could have expected Esau to hug him. This is an example of what the Lord can do for us too, if we put our confidence in Him!

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