Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jacob Turns to God for Protection -- Genesis 32:9-12

And Jacob said, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,' I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. For You said, 'I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.'"

Jacob eventually does turn to God as he knows that He alone can protect him from what he believes is coming down the road. But he doesn’t do it until after he fears and after he has made human arrangements that he thinks will guard him from the enemy. How much better would it have been had he gone to God first and sought His wisdom and guidance as to what action to take? Nevertheless, as always, better late than never.

In his prayer, he once again recognizes God as the God of his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac, as well as the God who spoke to Jacob himself. In my over six decades of life, I never realized how important it is for us to remember that the God we relate to today is the very God that our parents and grandparents related to, assuming they were God-fearing people. We often tend to forget that the God we approach on our behalf has been around forever.

While Jacob reminds God of what God had told him, he does so with humility as God’s servant. “God, I’m following your instructions and I know you have already shown me more love and kindness, and more faithfulness than I deserve. I know I left home penniless and now I return with two whole companies accompanying me, all because of your blessing. If you are reading this today, I admit I do not know your circumstances but I do know this: all of us came into the world penniless without a stitch of clothes on our back. Somehow this God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob saw to it that we got fed, clothed, trained, educated to some extent (or we couldn’t be reading this), and much, much more if we take the time to consider it all. Truly we are all unworthy of any of it. What we may have accomplished, we owe it all to Him, whether or not we realize it or even accept His existence.

Jacob asks for deliverance from the hand of his brother, the man whom he stole from and cheated. While it is easy to read this passage very quickly and skip over it, we would do well to stop and realize the real fear and trembling that Jacob was undergoing. In Jacob’s mind, Esau was on his way to attack him and the women with all the children. Living with that kind of fear must be an awful experience. I think of those that live in areas where wars and tyranny and genocide take place regularly. I think of young children or spouses who fear the coming home of a drunk or worse, a physically or sexually abusing parent or relative. Or, I think of Christians who have made a stand for Christ in their homeland where such a decision may mean death. What a horrible experience to know that each moment one must be on guard for the safety of oneself and one’s family.

But with all this fear, Jacob relies on the knowledge of what God had said. That’s the lesson for us when it comes to each and every issue. No matter what our fear, we need to be mindful of what God has told us in His word or in our hearts.

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