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Thursday, March 12, 2020

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter THIRTY TWO


Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

GENESIS 32 – by Sonny Islas. For the Facebook video teaching, go here.
Introduction: In Genesis 31 Jacob and Laban make a deal to not harm one another anymore. Laban kisses his daughters and grandchildren goodbye so that Jacob could continue his journey back home to Canaan. But there is yet another very serious problem ahead, Jacob’s brother Esau whom Jacob had tricked and deceived – by taking both Esau’s birthright and blessing might still be angry (bad blood). Jacob was afraid for his life because he remembered Esau’s death threats recorded in Genesis 27:41,42. 
GENESIS 32:1-2
And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim
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“Angels of God met him”
It’s clear that the surprise angelic visit was to be of comfort to Jacob. This was God’s way of reminding Jacob that He was truly with him on this journey and beyond. God knew that Jacob was going to need this fortifying because of Jacob’s fearful heart in connection to Esau.

John Wesley says of this verse, 
When God designs his people for extraordinary trials, He prepares them by extraordinary comfort.”

In Matthew 4:11, right after Jesus was tempted of the devil, angel’s came to minister to Jesus (to comfort and encourage Him).

Jacob’s dream of angels ascending and descending from heaven back in Genesis 28, became tangible. Bty the LORD met with Jacob before Laban and now again before Esau. Both times the LORD comforted Jacob when Jacob wasn’t sure about the outcome.
Billy Graham calls angels – God’s secret agents. I’m convinced that angels assist God’s children in ways we won’t know until glory.

Paul tells us that angels are among us and that we’re unaware of it. 

Hebrews 13:2 says, 
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unknowingly entertained angels.”

As a safeguard, we are never to seek out or to pray to angels. We are simply to acknowledge that they are on our side – that’s it.

GENESIS 32:3-5
And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.
And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now: And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight
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“Speak thus to my lord Esau”
Some scholars believe that Jacob was truly being humble in recognizing his brother Esau as lord or as superior to himself (like David did Saul) still others believe that Jacob was using flattery (knowing Jacob’s ways this may be the case).

If this was flattery, what a shame, because even after the LORD appeared to Jacob in a dream back in Genesis 28 and now here through a camp of angels, Jacob continues to take matters into his own hands. He tries to use flattery to win his brothers kindness instead of trusting in the LORD’s providence. Jacob: “What if I try and butter Esau up by calling him lord and referring to myself as servant.” (keep in mind is that the LORD had already told Rebekah their mother (Gen 25:23) that the older will serve the younger) but Jacob acts like he forgot.

Jacob probably relied on flattery over trusting in God. Flattery is: excessive and insincere praise, given especially to further one's own interests (i.e. “I’ll call you lord, just don’t kill me!”).

By the way, the LORD frowns on flattery. 

Proverbs 29:5 says, 
A man who flatters his neighbor Is spreading a net for his steps.” 

In other words, fake praise and compliments given only to get what you want becomes a booby trap to the one spoken to.

GENESIS 32:6-8
And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.
Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape
.

“Esau… is coming to meet you, and four hundred men with him.” 

“So, Jacob was greatly afraid (terrified)!” He wasn’t just scared he was paralyzed with fear. And I don’t blame him because if Esau is still angry and ready to slaughter to get his revenge, plus four hundred men!?

Jacob’s response is that of a lack of faith (at the same time Jacob is taking what seems like necessary action). In his mind - He already sees his group getting attacked – after the fact that God had told Him that He would watch over Him until the end and he was just recently met by a camp of angels.

But if we’re honest, we too would have given into fear, would we not? It has been said that some form of “fear not” is found 365 times in the OT (one “Fear not” for every day of the year!). So, we know that we’re commanded not to fear, and that fear is in a sense the belittlement of our great and All-powerful God – BUT – we’re still susceptible to fear.

But when fear arises, what is the biblical response? To turn to God in prayer. Which results in divine peace.

PHILLIPIANS 4:6-7 says,
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and (this is prayers result) the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Jacob finally cries out to God! I get this sense in which Jacob was finally coming to the end of himself! Like, Something has got to give! I’m just not cutting it!

GENESIS 32:9-12 – Jacob’s desperate prayer:
And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:
10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. 11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. 12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

Here we discover that Jacob’s prayer consists of three elements

1. He begins by pointing to God’s promise. “You said”
2. He admits to being unworthy. “I’m unworthy”
3. He admits to being weak (asked to be rescued). He ends by reminding God of His promise to keep him and prosper him. “Deliver me”

It’s important to remember that we don’t deserve God’s grace and many blessings and that He doesn’t owe us anything but instead He has freely and graciously given of Himself and of His resources to us. This kind of healthy attitude gives birth to gratitude and appreciation. Plus, those who understand their unworthiness most are the very ones who love most and serve most (Thought connects with Luke 7:47).

As we’ll read in the next chapter, Esau receives Jacob with joy BUT we must know that it wasn’t Jacob’s planning that caused this, it was his praying! God stirred and softened the heart of Esau through Jacob’s desperate prayer!

PROVERBS 16:7 says,
When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

GENESIS 32:13-21
13 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother;
14 Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams, 15 Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals. 16 And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove. 17 And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee? 18 Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob's; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he is behind us. 19 And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him. 20 And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me. 21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company
.

It’s a possibility that Jacob said to himself, “if my flattery or genuine respect didn’t work maybe some lavish gifts will!” So, he creates a plan – a parade of gifts – lots of animals – presented to Esau in succession. First the goats, then the rams, then the camels, then the cows (By this point – Esau might have said: “Holy cow!”), then the bulls, then lastly, the donkeys. Wow! Those are some pretty impressive gifts if you ask me!

This parade of gifts reminds of the movie Aladdin – where “Prince Ali” and the genie enters the kingdom and palace of Agrabah with tons of flash and gifts to impress the King and the princess Jazmin. We all know what a good gift can do! Especially those who are married and have an angry spouse at home. I may not be able to give a dozen of camels, but a dozen of roses does wonders!

Vs. 20 – “I will appease him with the present that goes before me” 

Hopefully it will make him happy to see me?
At the same time I believe that after God handled Jacob and changed His name, Jacob gave those gifts with a genuine heart as an apology for what he did to his brother. Which is a New Testament practice (Matthew 5:24).

One thing I noticed was that Jacob at this point was a coward but after he wrestled with God, Jacob led the way! Bty the most fearless Christians are those who spend lots of time with God.

GENESIS 32:22-32 – This is when Jacob is broken by God:
22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two women servants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.
23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. 26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. 29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. 30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. 31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. 32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank.

Vs. 24Then Jacob was left alone;”

I have to say that being alone with God is the best – nothing compares to one on one time with God! It is when we’re alone and eager that God has our undivided attention and it’s in these times that He can do a work in our hearts.

Vs. 24 cont’d “A Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day (sunrise).” We know that this “Man” is God in the form of a man – aka a Christophany (a pre-incarnate Jesus).

Vs. 25He touched the socket of his hip; …out of joint (dislocated it).” God dislocated Jacob’s hip so that Jacob would stop running. He ran to Laban’s. he ran from Laban and he’s tempted to run again. God wanted Jacob to come to the end of himself. To surrender!
Here we find that a limping Israel is better that a swift Jacob! God at times has to correct us, mark us and affect us in such a way that cause us to never walk the same again. God was breaking Jacob – Breaking, his cunning ways, His flattering ways, cowardice and his faithless ways.

Vs. 26I won’t let you go until you bless me!
This where God wants all us to be in prayer. To get to a place where we become desperate for spiritual change and spiritual strength. Where we come to the end of our rope. God wants us to pursue Him until He does a special work in our hearts and lives. I believe that those who seek God most get God most.

Vs. 27So He said, what is your name? He said Jacob.”
This was God challenging Jacob. In a sense God was asking, what are you like? Jacob: Trickster, a conniver, deceiver, heel catcher. What are you known for? I’m Jacob, the two-face.
[note from James: It’s important that if we desire true and lasting change, we need to confess our sins before the LORD, to enter into a humble place of heart, and seek GOD for the transformative change that can only take place by the power of the Spirit, and then we find ourselves cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 JOHN 1:9).]

Vs. 28Your name shall no longer be called Jacob [dirty scoundrel], but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.”
A character change was taking place. Jacob was going from the schemer that he was to one who trusts in God. To one who looks to God. To one who’s marked by God. We too have had a name change – we went from whatever we were to being Christians (like Christ). We bear the Name of Christ.

Vs. 29Tell me Your Name I pray God replies Why is that you ask about My Name? And He blessed him there.”
God didn’t have to tell Jacob His Name because God’s Name was in the Name Isra-ELOne who was touched/tested and tried by God!’’
Jacob understood this and that’s why he says, 

Vs. 30I have seen God face to face, and my life was spared.”

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