PACIFYING HIS BROTHER
Lord, in You I’m united with all Your people, past and present. They spur me on to live a godly life for You.
Read Genesis 32:1–21
Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau
3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. 5 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’”
6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”
7 In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups,[c] and the flocks and herds and camels as well. 8 He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group,[d] the group[e] that is left may escape.”
9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”
13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.”
17 He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ 18 then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’”
19 He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20 And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.’” For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” 21 So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectJacob addresses God in various ways, how do you address God? What does that express about your relationship with God?
Having dealt with his angry father-in-law, Jacob is now faced with the news that his brother is heading toward him with an army (6). The last he knew, Esau was threatening to kill him, and it seems that, 20 years later, Esau is still murderous!
Jacob turns to prayer (9–12). He acknowledges how good God has been to him, and how unworthy he is to receive God’s favor, but also reminds God of the promises that God has made, that cannot be fulfilled if Jacob dies at his brother’s hand. He requests God’s help.
And then Jacob employs some very practical strategies. By dividing the group, he hopes that some of his family and possessions will escape Esau’s fury.
By sending a very generous gift, with a specific message, in at least five installments, he hopes to calm Esau’s anger.
Corrie ten Boom once shared: ‘We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer.’ How might He be asking you to get involved?
Mighty God, I need to take to heart the words of Paul to Timothy, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2Tim. 1:7, ESV). Dear Lord, I pray for power, love and self-control in my life.