Scripture Text – Genesis 32-34
As we study Jacob’s actions during this crisis time in his life, we’ll see illustrated the conflicts all of us occasionally experience between faith and fear, trusting God and scheming, asking God for help and then acting as though we don’t even know God. The lessons that Jacob learned are going to demonstrate to us that a crisis doesn’t make a man; it shows what a man is made of.
Please read Genesis 32:13-21 for the background to this section.
You would think that a prayer with that kind of solid theological content would have brought God’s peace to Jacob’s heart, but it didn’t; and in his restlessness, he decided to act. “I will appease him,” he said and put together an expensive gift.
Sir Robert Walpole, England’s first prime minister, said of Parliament, “All those men have their price.” Many people of the world follow that philosophy (“Every man has his price”), the very philosophy Jacob was following as he put together his gift of five hundred and eighty valuable animals. He divided them into separate herds and commanded the herdsmen to keep a space between each herd so that Esau couldn’t help but be impressed with his brother’s generosity.
Even more, each of the herdsmen was to make the same speech to Esau: “They are your servant Jacob’s. It is a present sent to my lord Esau.” With words like “your servant” and “my lord,” Jacob was back to groveling again and ignoring the fact that God had made him lord over his relatives, including Esau (Genesis 27:29). Jacob discreetly planned to follow behind the last drove, hoping that the combined impact of the gift would prepare Esau to forgive him and welcome him when they finally met.
We’ve already learned that faith is living without scheming. But before we criticize Jacob, we need to examine our own hearts to see if we’ve ever been guilty of praying piously and then depending on our own schemes and resources. It’s true that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20), but Jacob’s gift wasn’t a work of faith because God didn’t command it. The old wives’ saying “The Lord helps those who help themselves” is totally unbiblical. True faith is based on God’s Word (Romans 10:17); and whatever we do that isn’t motivated by faith is sin (Romans 14:23), no matter how successful it may appear.
The real problem wasn’t Esau; it was Jacob. Therefore, God was now going to solve that problem.
To Be Continued