February 23, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Genesis 32-35
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Context: Now, if you remember, the last time Jacob saw Esau the two brothers did not depart on good terms. In fact, Esau wanted Jacob's life. In the 20-some years since then, Jacob has no way of knowing if Esau's hatred had softened, or if he was even more driven to extract revenge, so he carefully prepares. Jacob's message says three things to Esau: I have not been hiding or sneaking around behind your back, I have my own belongings and wealth and am not trying to take yours, and let's forget the past and let bygones be bygones. Additionally, Jacob sent a wave of presents to Esau. Again this was done with a purpose. If Esau was preparing an ambush, each wave would wear down the group waiting to attack. It becomes more and more difficult to travel with more animals. It places Jacob's men inside of Esau's camp, which would likely give Esau doubt about attacking (if that was what he had been planning). Finally, it was also an appeasement offering. Notice something missing from all these plans? So far, Jacob is only relying on himself for salvation from Esau. At the age of 97, Jacob wrestles with God. The fight may have been more spiritual than physical, as it is only at the end, Jacob is physically injured. Jacob is then forced to rely completely on the Lord. Permanent change is only possible through God's help. We have to stop wrestling with Him and let Him work in our life. Jacob's transformation is slow, but God is patient. Jacob's reunion with Esau was peaceful and Jacob settled in the land. Jacob's children proved they could be as deceitful as their father when they deceived the Hivites. Reuben attempted to usurp his father and take his inheritance early when he slept with his father's concubine.