Friday 26 July, 2019
13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 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.” 17 He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ 18 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.’” 19 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. 20 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.” 21 So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.
I think the key word to describe this passage is ‘suspense’. Jacob is caught between God’s promise – to make him prosper and have countless descendants (32:12) – and this news he has received that Easu is coming to meet him with 400 men (32:6). I can almost hear Jacob’s mind whirring as he tries to compute, how is this going to work out? How can God’s promise come true if Easu completely annihilates his family?
Jacob’s plan is pretty cunning. He tries to woo Easu with gifts, and sends the gifts in such as way as to maximise the impact. Jacob may be outnumbered, but he is not about to be outwitted!!
What’s interesting is that Jacob has no idea how these gifts will be received. In verse 20 he says ‘perhaps he will receive me’. He’s done all he can and now Jacob has to wait and see how things will unfold…
God, from what I can see Jacob was relying on himself and somewhat hoping you would fulfil your promise. I don’t see a man at rest here. Help me to trust you in the suspense and learn how to rest in the unresolved. Amen.
Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh
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