Genesis 31 -- 33
The greed of Laban and his sons led them to be hostile toward Jacob the servant of God. No doubt Jacob was excited when the Lord said to him, Return to the land of your fathers . . . and I will be with you. . . . I am the God of Bethel . . . where you made a vow to Me (Genesis 31:3,13).
Jacob confidently and honestly said to his wives: The God of my father has been with me. And you know that with all my power I have served your father. And your father has deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me (31:5-7).
After 20 years, Jacob was returning home to the Promised Land with his two wives, two concubines, 11 sons and one daughter, servants, and flocks: Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him (32:1). Jacob's messengers, who had gone before him, returned to say that Esau, who had threatened to kill Jacob 20 years earlier (27:41-45), was approaching, accompanied by 400 men; Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed (32: 3,6-7). He hastily divided his wives, children, and flocks into two camps, reasoning that if Esau should come upon one camp and destroy it, the remaining camp would escape in the opposite direction. In the dark of night, Jacob escorted the two groups across the Jabbok River, and was then left alone.
Jacob earnestly prayed and reminded the Lord that He had said: Return to your country . . . and I will deal well with you (32:9). We need to learn a lesson from Jacob: first to know what God has said and then to remind the Lord that we are relying on His promises.
We should also observe the motive which prompted Jacob to pray: Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children (32:11). At first, it might seem Jacob was merely pleading for his personal interests as a loving father and husband. But, he added: You said, I will surely do you good, and make your seed (descendants) as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude (32:12). Jacob was also praying for the future fulfillment of the covenant promise first made to Abraham.
This godly and humble servant of the Lord spent the night alone, agonizing in prayer, until he was conferred with the highest honor given by God to any man in Old Testament history: Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince you have power with God and with men (32:28). Through the centuries, the people of God would be called by his name -- Israelites. Through his son Judah, Jesus the Messiah was promised (49:10).
Today we too are in a covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Savior and our Mediator, who declared that the Christian life requires struggle: Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say to you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able (Luke 13:24).
31:1 glory = wealth; 31:19 images = idols; 31:30 sore longedst = very homesick; 31:36 chode = argued; 32:2 host = army, company of; 32:16 drove = herd; 32:25 hollow = hip socket; 32:28 prevailed = overcame; 32:31 halted = limped; 33:2 hindermost = last; 33:14 softly = slowly; 33:17 booths = shelters (see Leviticus 23:42-43).
Government Official: Rep. Calvin Dooley (CA) · BPM Staff: Mary Kay Wagner · Pray for Dr. Victor Paul, Pakistan, Urdu translator · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast in honor of Barbara Ann and Joseph Bivens · Country: Sao Tome and Principe (128,000) two larger and several smaller islands in the Gulf of Guinea, 125 miles off the western coast of Africa · Major language: Portuguese · Religious freedom is fairly new · 83% Roman Catholic; 3% Protestant; 2% animist · Prayer Suggestion: Confess and forsake any known sin (Nehemiah 1:6).
Memory Verse for the Week: