August 8, 2021 Service
Building a People of God With Unusual Characters: Jacob, Part 3: Facing Esau, Finding a Home
- Building a People of God With Unusual CharactersI hope you are enjoying and benefiting from these stories from Genesis that we are looking at so we can see God at work in the lives of people that are not just like everyone else around them, these unusual characters that God is forming into the founders of his divine family.If you have missed any of these messages, or if you just want to go back and listen to them again, you can find all of them in two different places.If you go to our website, Inter-CommunityChurch.com and click on “sermons” and you can go back not just to this series on unusual characters, but most all of the sermons of the past couple years. You can also find them on our YouTube channel. Just search on YouTube for “Inter-Community Church of God, Covina, CA and you should find a channel with a picture of our church steeple. Check out all the videos that are there.Andrea has done a wonderful job, every week, of posting these sermons both on our web page and on YouTube. Now, I really hope a lot of you will check out YouTube, and when you get to our channel, do what you hear most of the video producers ask you to do.If you are signed on to YouTube thought your Google account, click on the “Subscribe” button and also “Like” or thumbs up on the channel and on the videos. It makes it easier for others to find us, whether they are part of the church or not, because of the way YouTube search works.We started with Noah, then Abraham, Rebekah with Isaac and Esau, and Jacob. We set aside Jacob for a lesson on Leah and Rachel, then last week we we talking about Jacob setting out for Canaan on God’s order with his flocks and his family.So let’s catch up on the story so far.Jacob on His Way Back to the Promised LandGod talked to Jacob in a vision while he was still in the land of his uncle Laban, to get out from under his thumb and go back to Canaan, the promised land. So he told his wives what he was going to do, and they said, let’s go, we don’t have anything here for us. Dad sold us like we were slaves not daughters and spent all the money.So they all set out, but Laban chased them down with his men. Laban was more interested in the household idols that Rachel had taken than he was about his girls and grandchildren. These were probably more important as objects that gave title to his property than for religious reasons. After all, Laban was clearly just out for his own wealth.Laban didn’t find the idols, because Rachel was sitting on them, and finally made a pact with Jacob for peace. He went back to Haran, and would never see his daughters or grandchildren again.When Jacob resumed his journey, he had a vision of an angel army sent by God. He wasn’t sure what this meant, but he assumed it wasn’t as bad as facing his brother. Jacob sent messengers on ahead to ask Esau’s permission to cross his borders.The messengers came back with news that Esau was coming to meet him—with 400 men! This put the fear of murder in his heart, because Esau had promised to kill him as soon as Isaac was dead. That was 20 years ago, and Jacob had hoped he’d forgotten.So Jacob, shaking in his sandals, scared to death of what was going to happen, does something unusual. At least for Jacob. He actually prays to God, and pleads for God’s mercy and protection. Jacob knows about how God has caused him to prosper, but nothing about how God will protect him in the future.So Jacob planned for the worst, separated his troupe into two camps, hoping both wouldn’t be decimated by his brothers anger. He prepared a large peace offering of many beasts from his flocks, and sent that ahead with the instructions that his servants would tell Esau these were a gift for him.Jacob wanted to buy forgiveness from his brother, but he wasn’t sure it would work. In the depth of his fears and his worries, he sent even his family across the ford of the river and was left all alone with his fears.He was met in his fears that night with a man who wrestled with him all night, finally dislocating his hip and leaving him with two important things: A limp to remember that’s all we get out of fear instead of trust, and a new name, a new identity that would slowly sink into his consciousness.Jacob marked that place with a new name, Penuel, and a hope that God would help him out.>>>It was going to take a while for Jacob to know what it is like to actually trust God, but for now, getting on with our story, it’s …Time to Face the EnemyNo more putting it off. Jacob limped on past the place he named Penuel, with the morning sun upon him. His beasts and his boys and his hopes for blessing were on in front of him, and he had to face his brother.>>>So we get back into the story in Genesis, and we read in Genesis 33:1,1 Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming toward him with four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two slave women.Trust in God was going to take a while. Trust in Esau’s intentions would take even longer. He split his family up, with such fine bravery as to be sure that he would be guarded from Esau’s wrath by his huge gifts,>>>and being careful to avoid sacrificing his family’s welfare to Esau’s whims.2 He put the slaves and their children first, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last.I used to get this part of the story a little backward, remembering that Jacob was following his family into Esau’s army, starting the night before he wrestled with God’s man all night when he sent his family across the river before him.>>>but Jacob, in fact,3 He himself went on ahead and bowed to the ground seven times until he approached his brother.So then, after all this careful planning, a slow approach, some rich gifts, a show of some strength and Eastern-style genuflecting,>>>although Jacob expected to have to face a man’s wrath, instead,Jacob Meets A Brother Not A FoeWhat was about to happen would half scare and half relieve Jacob. It’s like those disaster movies where everyone is on the edge of their seats, sure of certain death as the disable airliner is headed for disaster, but manages to land safely and everyone turns their wails into laughter.>>>Here, in verse 4 of Genesis 33, we get this:4 But Esau ran to meet him, hugged him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. Then they wept.That was unexpected. Really unexpected.>>>And after Jacob’s fears were met by Esau’s affections,Jacob Introduces His FamilyEsau had come with 400 men. I think he was used to defending his borders, and his interactions with Jacob 20 years ago would not have given him reason to expect that Jacob was there for Esau’s welfare.>>> But now things were different, as we read…5 When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he asked, “Who are these with you?” He answered, “The children God has graciously given your servant.”So Jacob began to introduce his brother’s nephews:6 Then the slaves and their children approached him and bowed down.7 Leah and her children also approached and bowed down, and then Joseph and Rachel approached and bowed down.Well, now the ice was broken, but in the whole scheme of things,>>>for Jacob,Trust Comes HardThere was still the matter of all those gifts he had sent ahead. Did they do the trick?>>>Was Esau willing to trade his ire at Jacob’s theft of their father’s blessing for a few hundred beasts?8 So Esau said, “What do you mean by this whole procession I met?” “To find favor with you, my lord,” he answered. 9 “I have enough, my brother,” Esau replied. “Keep what you have.”Esau, in a pattern we see in transactions between people that involve land or properties in Genesis, claims that he doesn’t need any of Jacob’s property. Well, of course he wanted the wealth they represent. This was a way of saying to the one with the offering that the other guy would not be able to say that they made you rich.>>>So the story is unchanged, in a way, as …Jacob Pays for FavorRight now, he doesn’t pray for favor. Still not quite settled that God was his protector and provider,>>>he still would rather pay for favor than simply accept it.10 But Jacob said, “No, please! If I have found favor with you, take this gift from me. For indeed, I have seen your face, and it is like seeing God’s face, since you have accepted me.Jacobs relief that Esau didn’t hug him with a dagger was rather over-emphasized in that statement. “Like seeing God’s face.”>>>Yeah, that sounds right. A little over-the-top, I think.11 Please take my present that was brought to you, because God has been gracious to me and I have everything I need.” So Jacob urged him until he accepted.Jacob Keeps His Distance12 Then Esau said, “Let’s move on, and I’ll go ahead of you.”13 Jacob replied, “My lord knows that the children are weak, and I have nursing flocks and herds. If they are driven hard for one day, the whole herd will die.14 Let my lord go ahead of his servant. I will continue on slowly, at a pace suited to the livestock and the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.”Jacob Decline’s Esau’s Offer of DefenseAnd I think that is because Jacob was still very afraid of his brother’s motives. And, considering their troubled past, why wouldn’t he be cautious?15 Esau said, “Let me leave some of my people with you.” But he replied, “Why do that? Please indulge me, my lord.”16 That day Esau started on his way back to Seir,Jacob Avoids EdomRest Stop in Succoth17 but Jacob went to Succoth. He built a house for himself and shelters for his livestock; that is why the place was called Succoth.Settlement in Shechem18 After Jacob came from Paddan-aram, he arrived safely at Shechem in the land of Canaan and camped in front of the city.19 He purchased a section of the field where he had pitched his tent from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of silver.An Altar to GodGenesis 33:20 (CSB)20 And he set up an altar there and called it “God, the God of Israel”.Jacob isn’t yet back in Bethel.That comes as we get to our 3rd lesson on Jacob next week. He won’t be ready for Bethel until he’s ready to embrace his new identity as Israel.But what do we really need to get from today’s lesson that will help us in our own lives?God will take care of youGrudges will consume you.Fear will will overwhelm faithGod doesn’t intend us to live in fear.Whether you are Esau nursing a grudge or Jacob fearing a death threat, or just an average human knowing your own sinful state,GOD WANTS YOU TO BE FREE OF FEARBoth Brothers Bury Their Father28 Isaac lived 180 years. 29 He took his last breath and died, and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him.The inheritance had long been settled. For Isaac had little to offer other than the burial plot at Mamre and the remains of his household goods in Hebron. Jacob had Isaac’s blessing and Esau’s birthright, but Isaac’s blessing on Esau also released him from his grudge and he threw off the yoke of bitterness it caused, and now he was free of any need for vengeance.
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