It has been about 20 years since Jacob has seen his brother Esau, the last time they were together we read in Genesis 27:14
Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
Esau has an army of 400 men with him. Jacob, scared to death, sends ahead a fortune in gifts to pacify Esau. Take note that Jacob says he is coming behind. If the camp is attached, Jacob has no intention of going! In 32:21 it states
So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.
That night Jacob wrestles with God who has taken on flesh. Until this point Jacob has referred to God as “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac…But does not refer to him as HIS God. Part of our walk with the Lord is confession. We must confess we are a sinner, we require a blessing:a promise of a covenant (Jesus on the Cross) to seal that God is MY GOD, not just your God. In Genesis 32:26-27 Jacob confesses who he is in God’s eyes
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
I am Jacob! “I am a deceiver, a heel grabber, a sinner”. Jacob becomes a new creation with a destiny! Just like Abraham and Sarah, he is given a new name: Israel “Struggles with God”. So let’s see how this new creation has changed him. He still has a fear of Esau (who wouldn’t), and lines up his family in least loved to loved just in case they are attacked (chapter 33):
Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
But wait….did you see it!! God has changed him: “He himself went ahead and bowed down to the ground…” He received new courage. He went from fear “staying behind” to courage “went on ahead”. Insert smiley face with heart eyes. Time has healed all wounds for Esau.
I think it is fair to say that very few people have read the parts of the Bible “in between” the stories the pastor talks about at church. So when I say “you know the part where Noah gets drunk and naked…” or “Lot’s daughter’s have sex with their dad to get pregnant” or “Rachel says she has her period so her dad doesn’t find the hidden idols she is sitting on”, people think I am kidding. Who needs Netflix when you have the Bible! Chapter 33 is one of those stories people think I am kidding when I say “One of Jacob’s daughter’s gets raped and 2 brothers concoct a plan to have them circumcised and on the third day when the pain in their…is at it’s worst they can pounce on them and kill them!!”. You can’t make this stuff up!!
Jacob’s sons (but not Jacob himself) are furious when their sister Dinah is violated by a prince in Shecham. This horrible man now wants her to be his. Jacob (that’s right…I am not calling him Israel here because he is acting like a butt) does nothing!. Two brothers, Simeon and Levi (take notes on your Genealogy) are ringleaders on a vengeful attack. They lie and say: “Sure you can have her and we can ignore all the rules about intermarrying if you circumcise ALL your men. The men say “Let’s snip! It’s a “win win” situation! Our ruler gets the girl and we will share in their livestock and wealth”. Well, the story turns out in a “lose lose” situation. Just when the pain was at its highest from the circumcision, Simeon and Levi lead an attack on them. The End. NO! Not the end….Jacob disappoints again…read the end of Chapter 34. SMH!!
Taking notes will help when we get to Chapter 49 and land is distributed to the 12 tribes or why the Covenant gets passed to Judah.