Thursday 25 July, 2019

Genesis 32:1-12

32 Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim. 3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. 5 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’” 6 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.” 7 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. 8 He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.” 9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 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 camps. 11 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. 12 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.’”

The background to this narrative is that Jacob has previously tricked and deceived his brother Esau and therefore has had to flee from him. So when Jacob hears the news that Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men, he has good reason to fear that they may be coming for revenge.

Jacob does a three key things here to show that he is a changed man.

Firstly he acknowledges that God has blessed him far beyond what he deserves. Jacob came into this new land with nothing, and with a shady past as a liar and a trickster and yet God has greatly prospered him. He humbles himself before, saying “ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant”.

Secondly, Jacob is honest before God, acknowledges his fear and asks for help, “Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me”.

Thirdly, Jacob recalls God’s promises to him which boosts his faith in the face of fear, “But You (God) have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted”.

This is a very good model of how to face a challenging situation – humbly recognise my failings and the unmerited grace of God in my life, honestly tell God how I’m feeling and ask for His help and then remember the promises of God that He is ALWAYS at work on my behalf.

Today I am thinking of a challenging situation that I am facing, and I choose to apply these principles. I encourage you to do the same!

Written by Shelley Witt

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