Summary: The Patriarchs Broken but Blessed Genesis 32 For Jacob, like the rest of us, sin is a moral virus that is wreaking havoc in his life. God’s covenantal love and grace and mercy.
Broken but Blessed
September 11, 2016
We are in the midst of our series, “The Patriarchs,” where we have looked at the life of Abraham, Isaac, and now Jacob. For Jacob, like the rest of us, sin is a moral virus that is wreaking havoc in his life. Yet God is reversing the curse of sin in his life as he promises to do in the lives of his children. Turn to Genesis 32 as we continue to see God’s grace working in the life of Jacob, “Broken but Blessed.”
Jacob runs from Esau under the threat of death and runs into Laban only to face twenty years of slavery. Running from Esau he ran into Laban and now running from Laban he will run into Esau, a much more dangerous foe. If you remember, their relationship was characterized by conflict, from the womb until he fled to escape Esau’s murderous anger. Now twenty years later God calls him back home and on his way, he has an angelic encounter (1-2). It’s summary is brief but Jacob concludes that alongside his camp is God’s camp of angels, representing God’s promise to be with him (28:15). God has not forgotten his promise to Jacob and he is reminding Jacob about it. Remember, the promise of God’s presence is that God would provide for him and protect him. He needs this encouragement as he is about to run into his Esau. God did not reassure Jacob before he obeyed God; God reassured Jacob after he obeyed God. That is the normal way God reassures us. We step out in faith and God reminds us and reassurances us of his promises. God loves to respond to faith because it displays human neediness and exalts God’s great sufficiency/power to meet those needs.
So Jacob heads to southern Canaan, through Edom, determined to face his brother. He sends messengers ahead to test the waters with Esau (6-8). Yet there is no mention of how he responded to the servants so when the messengers return to Jacob and tell him that Esau is coming with four hundred men, he is greatly distressed and fearful. He immediately comes up with a plan to minimize his losses as Esau is a man who lived by the sword (27:40). So while Jacob comes seeking peace, it appears Esau is seeking war. Jacob fears for his life and the life of his family so he divides his camp into two camps to minimize the loss of life. And it is then he prays (9-12). It is a beautiful prayer, I think it is the first real evidence of faith, acknowledging God’s grace and mercy in his life. First, he identifies God as the covenantal God, who in free and sovereign grace chose to save Jacob, reverse the curse of sin in his life, and then bless the nations with salvation through his offspring. A covenant is not just a legal contract, but God binding himself to us in relationship and promising only to do good toward us. Then he reminds God of his command, God told Jacob to “return to your country and your kindred so that I may do you good.” Jacob is saying, in essence, “I am here because I obeyed your word and you promised to do good to me.” Then he acknowledges God’s mercy in his life, “I am unworthy of the least of all the deeds of covenantal love and all the faithfulness that you have shown your servant.” He is acknowledging that he does not deserve God’s love and goodness, specifically choosing him as an object of God’s covenantal love and grace and mercy. He has not deserved it, has not earned it; it is solely the result of God’s generosity and extravagance. He also acknowledges Gods faithfulness, he left Canaan with only his staff yet is returning with family, servants, and livestock. God has provided for him, even under harsh and difficult circumstances. Lastly, he pleads with God to deliver him and his family from Esau.
So he spent the night there and from all he had, he took five hundred and fifty animals as a peace offering, attempting to reconcile with Esau (13-21). He divided those animals into three groups and had his servants take the gifts to Esau, staggering the groups of animals as they went. As each group encountered Esau, the servants told him that these are a “present to my Lord Esau from your servant Jacob.” He is honoring Esau as the heir and the one who should have gotten the blessing Jacob stole (27:28-29). Jacob now recognizes how wrong and foolish it was to steal the birthright and blessing from Esau even though God promised it to him as the chosen Patriarch. He is making restitution.