I love to read all types of books, but my favorite ones are novels. It can be hard to read when the plot thickens or the main character makes a mistake; I just want my hero to be okay. Sometimes, I skip to the end to check and make sure that yes, he’s fine. But what I miss in my hurry to be reassured that all turned out well is the struggle. I miss what happens to make the hero grow and learn so that he is able to conquer his circumstances. Don’t miss out on the struggle today!
- In what area of your life right now are you struggling?
READ THE WORD: GENESIS 32:1-21 (ESV)
32:1 Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 And when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, 4 instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now. 5 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.’”
6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.” 7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps, 8 thinking, “If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape.”
9 And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. 12 But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”
13 So he stayed there that night, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty milking camels and their calves, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 These he handed over to his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on ahead of me and put a space between drove and drove.” 17 He instructed the first, “When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?’ 18 then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a present sent to my lord Esau. And moreover, he is behind us.’” 19 He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, “You shall say the same thing to Esau when you find him, 20 and you shall say, ‘Moreover, your servant Jacob is behind us.’” For he thought, “I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterward I shall see his face. Perhaps he will accept me.” 21 So the present passed on ahead of him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- What did Jacob instruct his servants to say to Esau in verse 4? What news did they bring from Esau?
- What was Jacob’s reaction to this news (vs.7)? What did he do in response to his fear and distress?
- Jacob’s prayer was a cry for help and a reminder to God of his promises (vss. 9-12). What part stands out to you in his prayer? Why?
- Have you ever reminded God of his promises to you only to turn around and take matters into your own hands? What would it look like to wait on God and trust him instead?
RESPOND TO GOD
It had been over 20 years since Jacob last saw Esau and stole his birthright blessing. As he journeyed through his brother’s land, Jacob prayed to God, asking for help and deliverance. But, instead of trusting God, he took matters into his own hands and chose to appease and trick Esau, again. Jacob had it right when he went to God and prayed, but he had it so wrong when he didn’t wait for what God would have him do. When we struggle in difficult situations, we need to pray to God and wait on him, not take matters into our own hands.
- Thank God that he loves us and forgives us every time we live in fear, take matters into our own hands, and trust in ourselves.
- Thank God that even though you are not worthy, he is.