Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Time of Reckoning Approaches -- Genesis 33:1-2

Then Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. And he put the maids and their children in front, and Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last.

So Jacob, limping, is now with his family on the same side of the Jabbok river and he looks up and sees Esau with four hundred men with him. What is going through his head at this very moment? What difference would the “all-night wrestling match” he had with God make in what he did next? Would he be bold or fearful? Would he still try to strategize or be prepared to meet Esau head on? Take a close look at what he did do and you be the judge.

First he gives Leah all her children and makes sure they are together in one group. Then he gives Rachel all her children. He does the same thing with each of their maids. [You will remember that Jacob had at least two sons from each of his wives’ respective maids.] So all the children are with his or her respective mother while their father Jacob stands alone. He then does something that is totally understandable, but oh so hard. He lines the four groups in an order. At the very front he puts the two maids and his children by them. Then he places Leah and his children by her behind the first two groups. And finally, he places Rachel and his son Joseph by her as the last group. The implication is that if Esau and his men were to attack, the first to be slaughtered would be the maids and the children they bore him; followed by Leah and the children she bore him; and then lastly Rachel and her children. The hope being that Leah’s family had some chance of escaping and Rachel and Joseph had the greatest chance of all, being further back. Wow. This is totally understandable as we know, rightly or wrongly, Jacob did love Rachel the most and thus he would love her son the most. He would want them to have the most protection.

So far, the action he took would seem to indicate that he was still a strategist and a planner, perhaps not leaving everything to God in whom he fully trusted. But look what happens next. The next verses we’ll look at tell a much different story.

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