Jacob leaves Laban and now encounters angels on his return journey home. He names the place, Mahanaim, “God’s camp” (Gen. 32:2). Near this place, Jacob sends messengers ahead of him to greet his brother, Esau, not knowing whether he has been forgiven for his earlier deception. When his messengers return, it is with the news that Esau is coming to greet him with four hundred other men. Jacob is disturbed and divides his household into two camps.
Isn’t this what we generally do? Whenever we are upset, we divide ourselves most often between God and the flesh. When fight or flight kicks in, we divide ourselves to see which is the better option at the moment, even knowing that God has promised to be with us. Instead of walking in faith that God’s promises are true, Jacob divides himself, reasoning that plan B exists if plan A fails. Perhaps he thought, “Maybe I can still make something of myself if God doesn’t come through.” Sound familiar?
In this place of Jacob’s division against himself, he cries out to God (Gen. 32:9-12). In his distress, he calls on the God of Abraham and Isaac – the One who told him to return to his family. Jacob thanks the Lord for his faithfulness and then describes his current predicament. There are several things to be learned in this short prayer:
- Jacob lays the burden back on the shoulders of the One who ordered his actions. We must, too. The results of our obedience to God’s command always rest on God. Make no mistake, though. The result, as for countless believers throughout the centuries, maybe martyrdom. Do not presume that your obedience will benefit your flesh, rest in the fact that it will always help the Kingdom of God.
- Jacob reiterates his unworthiness of God’s faithfulness and kindness. There is nothing in our lives that makes us worthy. Indeed, Scripture is clear that we are not. Only the sacrifice of Christ can make us new creatures. Humility, again, is essential. Matthew recounts Jesus stating, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt. 23:12). Remember God’s promise of land to Jacob? What does God say? “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). Humility is a prerequisite for stepping into your prophetic destiny. Jacob acknowledges that he first came over with his staff alone, but now he has returned divided. He’s in as much distress now as he was when he left. Sometimes returning can be just as hard on us as when we left. Memories are hard enough to confront, let alone the people we have hurt and who have hurt us. God alone can help us navigate the pathways we’ve created in our minds. Let’s call out to Him.
- Jacob makes his request known to God. While Jacob is doing so because of his fear, Paul admonishes us to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). God desires to hear from you! What is it that you want? Jacob backed up his prayer, reminding God of his promise to make Jacob’s offspring like the sand of the sea. When did you last pray in alignment with God’s will, reminding Him of His promise to you?
That evening, following prayer, Jacob prepares a gift. It’s not something cheap – it’s worth something. Jacob’s blessing is prepared in fear but given in faith, hoping that it will enable Jacob to face the past and move forward. Like Jacob, repentance is accompanied by the tangible. It can’t be in word only but must be made manifest in action. But Jacob’s fears haven’t all been alleviated. He puts his family on one side of the river and returns to the other. There’s another that Jacob must face first. We’ll discuss that tomorrow.
Lord, forgive me for the times that I have been double-minded. I know that I don’t deserve to receive anything from you when I second-guess Your direction in my life. I confess that I have walked in fear rather than faith. Lord, I purpose to leave the results of my obedience in Your hands. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I do know that You will be glorified as I rest in You. I am so thankful for the cross that causes me to stand boldly before the throne of grace. Lead me, Lord, in the way of repentance and let it be made manifest in my life. I trust You with every decision. You are always faithful and kind. Give me an undivided heart that I may fear You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.