This is a weekly guest devotion written by my mother, Estelene. Each week she shares with us Scripture and a short devotion to encourage us.
Right in the middle of our study last week we skipped a few chapters in order to give an account of all of Jacob’s children. This week we are going to study a portion of the chapters we skipped. Rachel has given birth to her first born son, Joseph, but not her second. It was during the birth of her second son when she died. Therefore, in this week’s lesson, she is very much alive and doing well.
Jacob decided it was time for him to return to his homeland, so he confronted Laban about the idea. Laban asked Jacob to stay awhile longer because he had prospered greatly since Jacob had tended to his flocks. Jacob agreed to stay until sometime later when Laban and his sons’ attitude changed toward him. Laban was mistreating Jacob even though Jacob was faithful to him.
God told Jacob to go back to the land of his fathers. So without notifying Laban of his plan, he and his entire household along with his flocks began their journey. When Laban found out that Jacob had deceived him and took his daughters and his grandchildren away from him, he and his relatives pursued Jacob. But God warned Laban in a dream not to say anything good or bad to Jacob. It took Laban seven days to catch up with Jacob.
I am sure their conversation was anything but pleasant. Jacob reminded Laban that he had worked twenty years for him and that Laban had changed his wages ten times. After further discussion a covenant was made between them saying that neither of them would go past the pillar they built to harm the other.
Early the next morning Laban kissed his daughters and his grandchildren and returned home. Jacob and his household continued on their journey. This is where we pick up our lesson today.
Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.
Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my master Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, menservants and maidservants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes. ‘ “
When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”
In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.”
Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper.’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’ “
He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau; two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.”
He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’ “
He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds; “You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.’ “ For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp. Genesis 32:1-21
Jacob knew that God was with him because God sent angels to meet him. That should have been very comforting to Jacob. Do you think it was?
Jacob sent messengers ahead to let Esau know that he was returning home. In response to the news that Jacob was returning, Esau and four hundred men journeyed toward Jacob to meet him. Don’t forget that the reason Jacob fled in the first place was because Esau was so mad at him for stealing his birthright and his blessing, he planned to kill Jacob after their father Isaac died.
How did Jacob react to the news from his messengers that Esau and all those men were on their way to meet him? He panicked. He divided his household into two groups so that if Esau slayed one group, the other group could escape. He also sent an enormous gift consisting of many of his flocks ahead in hopes that it would pacify Esau before they met.
God had told Jacob to return to his homeland and that he would prosper. Jacob in his prayer to God confirmed God’s promise to him, yet he confessed that he was afraid that his brother Esau would attack him. Do you believe Jacob’s faith was strong or weak?
Has God ever told you to do something, but you hesitated or dismissed it completely because fear had a grip on you? God is not going to tell you to do something and then desert you. If you know that God is leading you down a path that is difficult, have faith that God will be with you all the way.
What do you think is going to happen once Esau and Jacob meet? Is Esau going to go through with his long awaited plan? Will Jacob’s fear become reality? We won’t find out next week, but the event that takes place in our study next week will be imprinted in Jacob’s mind until his dying day.