WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 30
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 33
As we move into this chapter, let me repeat something that I mentioned yesterday. Because we have the privilege of looking back at this story and knowing how it is all going to work out, it is easy for us to judge Jacob very harshly. We tend to convince ourselves that we would have acted and reacted in very different ways. And while it is hard to justify everything Jacob said and did, it is also not so difficult to understand why he said and did some of things that he said and did.
For example, we know from the previous chapter that Jacob saw some of God’s angels. They were perhaps some of God’s fighting angels who came to encamp alongside Jacob and his family. Later in the chapter Jacob saw God. In fact, he saw Him up close and personal because he wrestled with God. But as this chapter opens, Jacob saw Esau and his four hundred men and Jacob seemed to lose everything he gained from his encounters in the previous chapter.
For example, Jacob “bowed” his way to Esau instead of walking up to Esau. On one hand, Jacob may have thought he was honoring his brother by bowing to him. But on the other hand, if Jacob had walked up to Esau, he would have limped his way to his brother. Limping toward Esau would have been a powerful reminder to Jacob of what God had done in his life. And limping toward Esau might very well have given Jacob an opportunity to tell Esau what God had done in his life. Sometimes our fear of men causes us to not share the good work of the Lord in our lives.
Esau running to Jacob and kissing him is evidence that Esau had had a change of heart about his brother. Esau’s change of heart gave Jacob an incredibly opportunity to seek forgiveness for what he had done and to talk about the change that was occurring in his own heart. Instead Jacob ignored that opportunity and instead begged his brother to accept his gifts. Sometimes our fear of men causes us to think we can buy or bargain for a better relationship with them. That seldom works or works for long.
After Jacob and Esau parted company (Did you notice how quickly Jacob got away from his brother?), Jacob went to Succoth and built a house and livestock barns there. From there he went to Shechem and bought some land from the Canaanites that lived in the area. The problem with that is back in Genesis 31: 13, God told Jacob to go back to the land of his youth where his father still lived. While Jacob did build an altar in Shechem to El-Elohe-Israel (that literally means God, the God of Israel which means Jacob was claiming God as his God), he was not where God told him to be. Jacob would eventually find his way there but delayed obedience is disobedience even if you are doing religious things like building altars in the meantime.
There is one more thing I want to call to your attention. In verse 2, as Jacob is putting his family and servants at the back to “protect them” from an attacking Esau, he put Rachel and Joseph at the very back. In other words, he put Leah in front of Rachel which means he thought more of Rachel than he did Leah. And he put Joseph at the very back which means of all his children, Joseph was his favorite.
We will continue to see the favoritism play out. But nothing good will come from that. In fact, a lot bad will come from that. Let me end with this: playing favorites with your kids never works out well even for your “favorite”.