Summary: A teaching message on Genesis 32 and 33.

Genesis Series #57 August 18, 2002

Title: What to Do in a Time of Crisis



Welcome to New Life in Christ. Today we continue with message #57 in our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Genesis.

Read Genesis 32:1-21

Opening Prayer

There is a story, from many decades ago, about a construction worker that I wish to share with you. This construction worker was employed on a high-rise building project, which required him and others to work after dark. He was busy on the edge of one of the walls which was many stories high, when he suddenly lost his balance and fell. As he fell over the edge, he managed to grab the edge of the wall with his fingertips. Desperately he hung on hoping that somebody would discover his perilous situation. He was in total darkness, barely hanging on to the wall, and crying for help, but no one could hear him due to the noise and machinery at the construction site. Very soon his arms begin to grow weak and his fingers began to relax. He tried very hard to force them the hold on but eventually and slowly his grip began to slip. He tried praying, but no miracle occurred. At last his fingers slipped from the wall and with a cry of horror he fell! He fell exactly 3 in. to a scaffold that had been there all the time, but he had not seen it because of the darkness.

This story illustrates the situations we sometimes find ourselves in when we face various crises in life. Sometimes we feel that we are all alone, desperately doing all we can to save ourselves, crying out for help but feeling unheard, until finally we lose all our own strength and let go. It is then that we discover that we were never in any real danger to begin with. Oftentimes we give in to fear and discouragement in times of crises because we do not know or see that we are safe in God’s hands. We do not see because of the darkness that surrounds us, not literal darkness but the darkness of unbelief.

This was the situation Jacob was in. He was re-entering the Promised Land as God had instructed, but he was fearful because of the anger of Esau. He was in a crisis situation, just like God’s people today when they face: serious health problems or death, financial troubles, ministry problems, family and relational crises, etc… There many things that this passage can teach us. One thing this passage teaches very clearly is what we should do in a time of crisis. I wish to share with you four things that we should do in a time the crisis.

1. In a time of crisis, remember that God’s people do not face their crisis alone; they have divine help.

Read Genesis 32:1, 2

As Jacob’s crisis is growing closer, God encourages and reassures him that he is not alone. He does this by revealing the presence of the angels of God. There’s not just one or two angels, but multitudes, as is indicated by Jacob’s naming of the place and his words, "This is the camp of God." The point of this manifestation and revelation to Jacob is to encourage him that he need not fear, because he has a Divine escort back to the Promised Land. The same thing is true of us. We need not fear, because God is with us.

1. In a time of crisis, remember that God’s people do not face their crisis alone; they have divine help.

This is true for us today as we face fearful situations. We can be at peace because we know that we are not on our own, God is with us. We may not have a special revelation of the divine help that is present, but through faith in God’s word we know that we are not alone. As a Elisha told his servant when they were surrounded by an enemy army, "Those are with us are more than those who are with them! (2 Kings 6:15,16)

Read Genesis 32:3-8

There is a second thing we need to do in a time of crisis.

2. In a time of crisis, keep your eyes on God because things may get worse before they get better.

Jacob does everything within his power to resolve the crisis situation with his brother. He sent messengers to inform Esau that he is plenty of material goods, so that Esau would not think that Jacob was coming to claim the inheritance of the firstborn. He also refers to Esau as lord and master, while referring to himself as Esau’s servant, in order to flatter Esau and soothe his anger. This act of seeming humility or contriteness may have been inappropriate, after all it was God who said that Jacob would be the greater and Esau the lesser. This contriteness would be appropriate, if it was from repentance and remorse, but it seems to come from Jacob’s fear. Rather than trusting God, Jacob is trying to soften Esau up with flattery.

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