I love the bible for this very reason, those that are in it are not mirrors of unobtainable perfection, but, very human and yet loved and used by God.
Flawed yet blessed!
Do we put too much pressure on people trying to whip them into shape as per our own perspective instead of loving them and being an example that impacts, causing change?
As I read Genesis 32 I was struck by the contrasts of Jacobs emotions and behaviour. On one hand Jacob heard that his brother was on his way to meet him with four hundred of his own men. Jacob became anxious and worried at the thought of having to now face his brother because 20 years or so earlier, he had deceived Esau out of his birth right as the first-born son.
Guilt is a terrible and powerful thing. It is its own prison to its victim. For Jacob was blessed. He was so blessed and successful in his own words he prayed:-
I have become small from all the kindnesses and from all the truth that You have rendered Your servant, for with my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Genesis 32:11 Tanakh Bible
He started off with just himself and some staff and he had increased over the years to having 2 wives, 2 maids all of who had children for him totaling eleven, plus staff and life stock that traveled in two camps. That is a lot of people and livestock!
Yet, Jacob had walked with this guilt over his life throughout his success. He was the think that remained in the back of his mind constantly. Jacob’s fear now really started to take a hold of him in the pending reality of meeting his brother and it drove his actions throughout this chapter. He used all is human initiative to deal with this pending reality as best he could through planning and strategiesing. He decided the best thing he could do would be to appeal to his brother’s heart for some kind of forgiveness through lavishing him with gifts and wealth. He thought it was the one thing he had, that his brother would be unlikely to have. After all, he had all his Father’s wealth plus he had added to it over the years. When he left his brother he at the time had nothing!
Jacob was very logical in his thought processes. Yet you can truly see everything was laid out in a measure of importance to his heart. What was dearest to him remained closest to him and was the very last thing his brother would see and be able to destroy. Rebekah and Joseph.
So Joseph’s love was clearly conditional and not the same for his wives nor his children. All huge no no’s today. But have people changed?
But while all this is going on in Jacob’s life and he is battling with his emotions and racked with fear and guilt, he then finds himself alone on the other side of the Jabbok River where he wrestle’s fearlessly with an ‘Angel of The Lord!” He fights so tenaciously, that he refuses to let go of the Angel until he was blessed. The same man who was in fear for his life with his brother. Fought and Angel recognising who he was and insisted he would not release him until he was blessed. In spite of a dislocated hip he held on in his fight and was rewarded with his name being changed from Jacob (the deceiver) to ‘Israel’ (Triumphant with God or who prevails with God). How amazing is that?
On one hand it seems Jacobs emotions and thoughts were leading him a merry dance. Yet spiritually, he was still in the right position with God.
I can only conclude it was because its was all still part of God’s original plan for his life. The rough with the smooth.
Jacob’s guilt drove him to a place where he needed his brother’s forgiveness and he created such a vivid picture in his head, that he thought his brother could only be in one place. A place of revenge. But isn’t that what guilt and fear do? They blow things out of perspective and places them under a lens of irrational thoughts and judgement as if they were true and real.
Esau however, reflected the other side of the coin. Esau reflected forgiveness!
I love the contrast of behaviour Esau reflected. Because when he finally saw his brother who approached him by bowing to the ground seven times as he approached him. The bible says Esau ran to him and greeted him so warmly and lovingly that he embraced him and fell on his neck kissing him! Genesis 33
Esau had no fears, just a genuine love for his brother. Why? Because, he had not walked in hatred or the need for revenge. He had released his brother a long time ago. He to had become rich and wealthy, just as the Lord said he would because that was the blessing placed on his life.
Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacoba ? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”
37Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”
38Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud.
39His father Isaac answered him,
“Your dwelling will be
away from the earth’s richness,
away from the dew of heaven above.
40You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.”
Esau was not in a good placed when his brother had robbed him for the second time. In fact, he said he wanted to kill him. But clearly, at some point in his life he had released that hurt and now he was in a place where he no longer was in the shadow of his brother. He was his own person. A person of means and with his own wealth.
Lets not forget, he had started his life with no wealth, no staff, nothing! All he had was the blessing of his father and his skill as a hunter. Yet from his humble position Esau had grown into a very powerful man also.
Esau did not become embittered about life nor the cards he was dealt. He did not rage against God, instead he made the most out of his life using what he had.
The day he decided to leave where he was living to see his brother, was the day of ‘restlessness’ that changed his life. ‘Because the blessing was fully completed and he had broken the yoke and the power of his brother off of his neck. I really believe the ‘Yoke’ in question was a mental one. The same mental prison that held his brother. The same nemesis that had been in the back of his mind for the same number of years of revenge. This may well have been the point when he weighed everything up and with God choose to forgive his brother and go and see him to make it right. This may well have been his turning point and the fulfilment of a blessing released on his life over 20 years earlier?
The process is never about how you start but it’s about how you react and the choices you continue to make in your life. The right choices will always lead you to the right place for you.
These men were flawed yet blessed.
Never write yourself off because of mistakes and imperfections. At the end of the day what matters is what God says about you. None of us are perfect. Our lives are always in Gods hands.
Jesus is the way maker. He is the only one that was without flaws and blemish in the bible.
Judgement through the eyes of men are flawed because our judgement can be coloured through flawed emotions and logic. All of us have an unknown element to us. We don’t know our-self 100% accurately let alone how to judge others accurately. Yet, the enemy loves it when we condemn our-self and beat our-self up.
The key is when you mess up you acknowledge your mistake and seek the Father’s forgiveness and then do what is required to make things right. In his own way that was how Jacob prayed. This will require spirit of humility, but, that is something we should always strive to walk in.
The other thing to note was Jacob worked his change for himself. Through his personal fight with the Angel his name was changed. Reflecting he was no longer the same person at that point in time of the fight compared to the man who deceived his way through life in the past. He too in his own way had grown and changed, this was acknowledged by God.
It’s interesting to note that both men needed to make pivotal decisions for their life around the same time. If Esau had not grow restless and decided to go and see his brother. Would Jacob have been in that key place and position he was to then fight ‘The Angel Of The Lord?’
The toughest decisions in our life can be the one that releases you into a whole new level of you. To avoid these decisions as painful or as costly as they may seem, could keep you in a place where you never fully realise the full blessing that’s on your life.
Esau would have remained in his own mind mentally beholding to his brother for longer and Jacob may never of changed his Name until much later in his life. To delay or to never grasp the nettle only equals further delay in your own life.
God has the final say. Pay attention to what he says about your life and keep working on it.
Be the change you want to see, until next time.
Be Blessed from Gloria