Summary: Twenty years ago, he left the country as a fugitive, with a death sentence on his head. Now, if he is to return, he will either be public enemy number one or one of the best diplomats of his time.


Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 1

Twenty years ago, he left the country as a fugitive, with a death sentence on his head. Now, if he is to return, he will either be public enemy number one or one of the best diplomats of his time.

Jacob fled from Esau, his brother, trying to escape from his past. Then from Laban, his uncle, who was trying to control his future. He is most disturbed, however, by what is happening in the present. This journey back to his homeland after twenty years will either be a pathway of diplomacy or a precipice of disaster!

I have entered meetings so charged with negative emotions that it made me want to run the other way. Jacob has good reason to want to run.

The situation was quite clear when Jacob left the country. Genesis 27:41 (NLT) says, “From that time on, Esau HATED Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I WILL KILL MY BROTHER, JACOB.”

How should he respond to Esau’s antagonism, his intimidating tactics? How can he convey, in the most persuasive way possible, that he intends no further harm or trickery to his brother and do this without compromising God’s purposes for his life?

That’s why Jacob’s short course in diplomacy is worth noting. Over a twenty year period he has earned his diplomatic qualifications the hard way. Now he is a member of that exclusive and prestigious profession of pinstriped men and women who glide their way across the earth in a dance of diplomacy with all the finesse and etiquette that is demanded when walking on eggshells. The only difference is that he wants to dance with diplomatic integrity rather than deceit. No stew pots or sheep skin.

What can he teach us when we dread facing situations in life which threaten our future?


Genesis 32:1-2 says “As Jacob started on his way again, angels of God came to meet him. When Jacob saw them, he exclaimed, “This is God’s camp!” So he named the place Mahanaim.”

OK, so it won’t always be angels but, somewhere along the way to the purposes of God it seems we always have to confront our past, and we need all the help we can get to move forward.

Jacob has been no angel, but Angels keep turning up at key points in Jacob’s life. They were there at Bethel when God gave Jacob an unbelievable promise. And they will be at Bethel when God fulfils His promise.

Why are they here? Do these angels encourage him to make face to face contact with Esau rather than try deceptive means to get back into the country? We are not told.

Perhaps this angelic diplomatic attaché is here to witness what Jacob is going to do, give him confidence that God is here, and show him he is doing the right thing. He was obviously moved by this sighting.

Then again, they may be there to get a good seat for the fight, nice and early.

Jacob names the place, “Mahanaim” which means “two camps”. Military camps. Are these angelic figures involved in the Spiritual warfare of this occasion as they watch God and man in contest? Are they there to observe just how God works out his purposes? Are they there to protect Jacob? I have all these questions, but we are not told! God leaves out the details so many times in the Bible. But figure it out…

This is a stress-plus time for Jacob. From the moment Jacob obeys God by leaving Laban behind, he is more open to seeing what is happening spiritually on every level. He is attuned to the fact that something significant is about to happen. I guess seeing “angels of God” will do that everytime.

There have been situations in my life which have brought me to the realisation that I need God’s help. Often it has meant starting out with what I already know and with what I already have in my hand, and only then do I discover the spiritual help at hand to cover that which I don’t know.

One thing I do know is that "If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" (Romans 8:31, NLT).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? How do you prepare for a coming confrontation? How do you prepare when you are facing a meeting with a sense of dread?


“Then Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother, Esau, who was living in the region of Seir in the land of Edom” (Genesis 32:3 NLT).

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