Genesis 32

Genesis 32 has Jacob moving on to a new threat, at least in his mind, his brother Esau.  He hadn’t left on great terms with Esau having stolen his birthright and his blessing.  And now, as he fled Laban and headed back home, he knows he will run into Esau who has been there since his departure.  So “Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him”.  The good news is that Jacob was again not going to have to face this situation alone.  And God makes that clear by sending angels to meet him.  But Jacob takes it into his own hands anyway.

Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau”.  He isn’t going to hit him cold, but wants to try and warm things up a bit.  He tells his servants to say “I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male servants, and female servants. I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight”.  He is going to try and win him over with gifts, lots of gifts.  The servants return and tell him “he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him”.  This is no trivial welcoming party.  Esau is on his way with a bunch of his men.

“Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed”.  Not much trust in the angels that God had sent his way.  So Jacob “divided the people….into two camps”.  He’s going to try and outsmart his brother, which he has successfully done twice before.  At least if he attacks one camp, the other will be spared.  Then ne finally gets around to praying.  No mention of God til this point as he cries out “please deliver me….for I fear him, that he may come and attack me”.  Jacob sets up camp there but “took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had”.  A bit more trickery just in case things went bad.

Then something amazing happened as “Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him”.  But even that did not stop Jacob.  He hands on and says “I will not let you go unless you bless me”.  Jacob has certainly learned the power of a blessing.  So he holds on and the ‘man’ finally says “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed” and he blessed him.

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