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Turn of Events — Genesis Chapter 33

This blog post will cover the devotionals #145, 146 for Genesis Chapter 33.

Please note that this devotional book is for sale as a physical (paperback) &/or digital (PDF) book on my website.

[145] Genesis 33:1-4

After Jacob had wrestled with Christ, he went on his journey towards Esau, and when he’d divided his children and their mothers from least important to most important (in his mind), he went ahead and bowed seven times to Esau. When Jacob had cried out to God for His promised blessing and protection, He heard him and worked on Esau’s heart until he changed his mind about what he’d do to Jacob. Esau intended to kill Jacob but the night before they met, he had a dream in which God showed him how Jacob had been away from home for twenty years because of his fear of Esau. He showed him the sorrow Jacob would experience to learn his beloved mother, Rebekah, was dead. He showed him Jacob’s humility, along with the angels that surrounded his family. And He showed Esau that, when they met, he had no intention of harming Jacob. Esau woke up and realized that his dream was from God and that God was with his brother—and he told his four hundred men that they were to do no harm to Jacob. Thus, when they caught up with each other, instead of attacking Jacob, Esau ran and hugged and kissed him, and they cried together. Jacob continually referred to himself as Esau’s servant, bowing multiple times. This reminds me of the reunion of the prodigal son and his father. Jacob and Esau are representatives of two types of people—the righteous and the wicked. Jacob was distressed to learn that Esau was coming for him with four hundred men—and this is symbolic of the trouble the righteous will experience when the death decree goes out against them before Christ returns the second time. They’ll despair when the wicked surround them and they see no way of escape. Thus, they’ll wrestle in prayer with God in their time of trouble, just as Jacob did in his. Isaiah 27:5 says, “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he will make peace with Me.” The desert chief had come with his men of war, and the chief shepherd came with his wives, children, servants, and animals. What a contrast! After their warm encounter, Esau asked about all the people that were behind Jacob, and Jacob told him that they were all the children that God had been so gracious to bless him with. He then proceeded to introduce his children and women to him—starting with his wives’ handmaids, then Leah, and finally Rachel. Afterwards, he questioned the meaning of all the flocks he’d sent to him. Jacob told Esau that he was hoping they'd earn Esau’s mercy. Esau told him that he had enough and he should keep his animals for himself. Jacob insisted that he too had enough, and that it’d mean a lot to him if Esau would accept his gift. Esau finally did. Jacob had told him that Esau’s response to him, when he’d anticipated the opposite, was the same as seeing God’s own face (this really shows how much a facial expression or simple act of kindness can deeply impact someone or even change their experience entirely). The hardened soldiers of Esau were touched as they witnessed the marked change come over their leader. They couldn’t comprehend how the weakness that clearly afflicted Jacob now (the paleness and slow, weak limp that he got from his long night of wrestling with Christ) was his greatest strength (he was strengthened when he surrendered) and contributed to winning the heart of his brother. Instead of trying to get all the wealth for themselves, these brothers now insisted that they had enough and that the other should keep the wealth of animals.

[146] Genesis 33:12-20

After accepting Jacob’s gifts, Esau invited him to journey with him to his home. Esau would take the lead (likely to protect him). Jacob replied that the children were tender, and his flocks and herds had young. If the servants overdrive them, they’d die. He suggested Esau go on ahead and Jacob would make his way at the appropriate pace and meet up with him again in Seir. However, Jacob had another reason for not accepting Esau’s invitation. At that point, Esau was clearly under the Holy Spirit’s influence, which could be seen in his unexpectedly kind behavior towards his brother. However, that behavior could drastically change if a different spirit took over him, and Jacob didn’t want to take the chance. Still, Jacob didn’t lie when he gave the reason of his children and young animals (it was legitimate), and it was enough to avoid sharing the full motive in his turning down the invitation. Esau tried to have Jacob keep some of his men to keep them safe, but Jacob said he had no need of them—he had angelic host surrounding his camp. So, they parted ways with good feelings toward each other, and Esau left and went on his way to Seir. Jacob traveled to Succoth and built his house and booths for his cattle. He went to Shalem (a city of Shechem, in Canaan), and pitched his tent before the city. Jacob had prayed at Bethel for God to return him to his homeland peacefully and that was finally granted to him. He bought a parcel of field from the children of Hamor (Shechem’s father) there for one hundred pieces of money, and put up an altar, naming it Elelohe-Israel, meaning ‘the mighty God of Jisrael (Israel)’. The name was meant to represent a place that was consecrated by Jacob (Israel). This valley of Shechem was the same place his grandfather Abraham had made his first camp and first altar over one hundred years before that. This was also the same place where he’d build the very well that Jesus would visit at noon seventeen centuries later and share about the well of water that springs to everlasting life. Unfortunately, as we’ll see in devotional #147, they stuck around Shechem too long and it resulted in terrible consequences.

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