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23. Jacob and Esau Meet

June 25, 2009

Text:   Genesis 32:1-33:20

Key Verse:   Genesis 32:10

Outline:             I. Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau      Gen. 32:1-8

                             II. Jacob Prepares to Fight Esau      Gen. 32:9-21

                             III. Jacob Becomes Israel      Gen. 32:22-32

                             IV. Jacob Honors Esau      Gen. 33:1-11

                             V. Jacob Keeps His Distance      Gen. 33:12-20


Jacob leaves Mizpah and is met by God’s angels, a clear sign that God is protecting him as He promised. Jacob sends messengers ahead to Esau who is in Seir, the country of Edom. Jacob asks them to address Esau as master and claim Jacob is his servant. They are to tell Esau that Jacob has wealth to share with him. The messengers return and tell Jacob that Esau is coming to meet him with 400 soldiers. So Jacob divides his family and his livestock into two separate camps so at least there is a chance one group will survive.

Jacob prays, reminding God that He was the one who asked Jacob to return home. Jacob humbles himself before the Lord and asks that he and his family be saved if Esau decides to attack. He acknowledges God’s past Covenant Promises to prosper him with many descendants. Jacob stays put and decides on a very generous gift of livestock for Esau. He sends the gift with his servants to meet Esau, putting space between his family and his gift. They also are to tell Esau that Jacob is coming to meet him.

Jacob takes his family across the Jabbok wadi with his possessions. Jacob is alone and wrestles with a man during the night. The man can’t win so he touches Jacob’s hip to disable him. They wrestle until dawn. Jacob knows this is someone special so he doesn’t let go until the man promises to bless him. The man changes Jacob’s name to Israel [God did the same for Abraham and Sarah] because he had struggled with God and man [Laban] and has overcome [no longer a deceiver but one who depends on God]. Jacob calls this place Peniel because he saw God face to face and lived.

Jacob sees Esau coming toward him and places his family behind him as he approaches Esau. Instead of fighting with Jacob, Esau runs and embraces him. He asks about Jacob’s family and Jacob presents them to Esau and they all bow to Esau [Isaac’s blessing was that Esau would bow to Jacob]. Esau asks “why so many animals” coming to meet him and Jacob explains these are his gift to Esau. Esau says he has plenty but Jacob insists and Esau accepts.

Esau suggests they travel together but Jacob wants to go slow because of his animals. Esau volunteers to give Jacob some of his men for protection but Jacob refuses [preferring to depend on God]. Jacob is happy their animosity is past but doesn’t want to test their fragile relationship. Jacob buys land near Shechem to live and builds an altar there.


     1. Seek the Lord for guidance in tense situations, especially when family is involved.

     2. God knows the hearts and intentions of all people. He protects those who truly seek Him and desire to serve him.

     3. God’s angels fulfill God’s promise of protection. Keep watch for them. They usually come unannounced but you can be sure they are near, especially in critical situations.

     4. Be careful how you present and/or represent yourself before a person you hated in the past. Make your intentions known but also make sure you cannot be misinterpreted.

     5. When meeting a known enemy, take all necessary precautions and have a gift [peace offering] ready. A gift helps subdue any remaining bad feelings.

     6. Prayer is the best way to prepare for an unexpected confrontation. Pray for peace. Remind God [and yourself] of His Promises. Pray with humility.

     7. Do not wrestle with God’s Plan but submit to Him. In submission, ask for His blessing. Place your faith in God even though you have taken your own precautions. Accept your role and look forward with hope to see God work in your life.

     8. Showing respect, love, and honor to a former enemy indicates maturity and defuses a tense situation. Be open minded and don’t’ rush to quick judgments.

     9. Most times peace is better served with two sandboxes instead of one sandbox. Differences soften with distance and acknowledged boundaries.


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