Now there’s a lot of great motivators in this world – achievement, rewards, guilt, etc. But one of the best motivators for some people is fear. Fear can really get your attention.
- fear of consequences
- fear of failure
- fear of pain
- fear of embarrassment
[Dave and I “ministry of shame” at Uhaul.]
But for the Christian fear should motivate us to pray. We know that God will never leave us or forsake us. We know He loves us and will provide for us. Yes, fear will come into our lives. But we need to face our fears with our faith.
In Genesis 32 Jacob is about to go through some serious fear. He’s finally on his way back home with all of his family and fortune. But the closer he gets to home the more the more he’s concerned about what was waiting for him. He starts to wonder if Esau was still mad at him for taking away his birthright and his blessing. Remember, Jacob left home mainly because Esau had vowed to kill him. Now it’s 20 years later and Jacob is headed back home. Was Esau waiting there to kill him?
What we’re going to see in the next couple of chapters is an amazing story of a man so gripped with fear that he literally wrestles with God in order to gain His protection. (Even though all he had to do was trust.)
I. Fear moves Jacob to pray and plan
[Read Genesis 32:1-2.]
As Jacob makes his way back home God sends angels to Jacob. Jacob knew they were angels because he names the place Mahanaim which means “two camps”, (his camp and God’s camp). And of course this wasn’t the first time that Jacob had seen angels. On His way away from home he saw the angels at Bethel – now on his was back home the angels appear again.
They were sent to encourage Jacob and to equip him for the journey. To equip Jacob spiritually for what lay ahead. God knew the fear that was welling up in Jacob so the angels are dispatched in an attempt to strengthen Jacob’s resolve to trust the Lord in this matter.
But the fear Jacob had of his brother was so intense that he made plans to appease his brother’s wrath.
[Read Genesis 32:3-8.]
Jacob finds himself in a heap of trouble here. He send out this kind message to his brother only to find out that Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men! Jacob must have thought the worst. (But you know, Esau might have thought the same thing!)
Anyway, Jacob is scared out of his mind, so he does what he should have done in the first place – pray!
[Read Genesis 32:9-12.]
What an amazing prayer. Several things we can point out here that model right praying for us when we go through fearful things.
- recites God’s promises
- shows humility
- praise to God for His faithfulness and His blessings
- requests, (safety for himself and his family)
- transparency, (fear)
Jacob shows a real trust in the Lord here. So he gets up the next morning and goes
ahead with his plans to appease Esau hoping the Lord would use those efforts for his good.
[Read Genesis 32:13-23.]
The plan has been put in motion. Jacob’s servants have gone ahead of him and his family to present these hundreds of animals to Esau hoping that he would accept the gifts and change his mind about killing Jacob.