About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Verses 1 and 2 are
extraordinary. When Jacob
and his company got close to his homeland, there appeared a host of
angels. He could actually
see these angels. It is
clear that they were there to protect Jacob and his people.
Over the years I have heard stories about how Israelis today have
been accompanied by angels when doing a certain dangerous task, often
relating to time of war and conflict.
It is my opinion that God has angels watching over the Jews
today, as He had these angels watching over Jacob and his people.
Angels aren't always seen, but they are there.
The existence of angels
are real, and they don't solely exist for heavenly reasons.
They have an active role to play
in the affairs of man and the earth.
You see them all the time in the Bible fulfilling God's plans and
purposes on earth. Again, we
don't see angels around us, but they are there.
In verse 3 Jacob sends
messengers ahead to greet Esau. Jacob
wanted to know how he was feeling, and he soon found out.
In verses 4 and 5 Jacob
instructs the messengers what to say.
In these instructions Jacob calls his brother Esau both master
and lord. This is partly out
of respect, hoping that Esau would return the respect.
In reality, because Jacob had received the birthright, the
blessings from Isaac twenty years earlier, Esau should have been the one
to call Jacob lord and master.
The messengers were told
to tell Esau that their master Jacob had become very wealthy while away.
Maybe in Jacob's mind he wanted Esau to know that he had gained
his own fortune and needed nothing from him and Isaac.
In verse 6 the messengers
come back with distressing news. They
did get to see Esau, and with him was an army of four hundred men.
That did not make Jacob very happy, as seen in verse 7.
So in verses 7 and 8 Jacob
divides his company into two groups, both people and cattle.
He thought if Esau would attack him, then only half of his
company would be captured or killed.
This wasn't a bad plan.
One might ask, "how
did Esau know Jacob was coming back?"
He obviously knew and was ready and prepared for Jacob.
Someone had to have told Esau that he saw Jacob's company moving
towards them. Some scholars
suggest that Laban, Jacob's father-in-law,
actually sent out someone to tell Esau Jacob was coming.
We don't know this to be true.
It is only speculation, but it wouldn't surprise me if Laban had
sent out men ahead of Jacob.
From verses 9 through 12
we see Jacob in serious prayer. This
is not the first time we see someone talking to God in Genesis, but it
is the first time we see a person initiate a prayer such as this.
I'm not saying it's the first time
someone prayed, just the first recorded prayer that is more than
a sentence long.
In the opening part of
Jacob's prayer he uses the word God twice and the word Lord once.
You can tell by the wording that he is very afraid.
This is one urgent prayer. He
reminds God that He is the God that told him to return to his homeland
so he could prosper, and now he sees an army of four hundred men waiting
for him. Things don't look
very good. This reminder is
meant as a request to God for help.
There is something to be
learned here. Just because
God tells someone to do something, does not mean he will have an easy
time doing God's will. Abraham
obeyed God and left for
New Testament times
haven't changed in this respect. Look
at the apostle Paul. God
called him, but his life was far from easy.
Right in the beginning of Paul's new life as a Christian God told
him that he would suffer for his name.
So one cannot conclude that because things aren't going right
they are outside the will of God. One
also cannot conclude that because things are gong right, they are in the
will of God.
In verse 10 Jacob tells
God that he is unworthy of His blessings, and that is true.
Jacob was not worthy. He
was a deceiver. That being
said, none of us are worthy. Being
unworthy for Jacob was not the issue.
God's sovereign choice was the issue.
God told Abraham that he would be a great nation, and that nation
would go through the lineage of Isaac.
Then God told Rebekah that the chosen people would go through the
chosen son of Jacob. God
would fulfill his promise no matter what.
Jacob also calls himself
a servant in relation to God. We
all should view ourselves as servants of God, especially in this day in
age when we tend to view ourselves as kings.
We're not kings. We
are servants, and the quicker we realize this, the better off we will
In the last part of verse
10 Jacob states that when he
In verse 12 Jacob now
reminds God twice in this short prayer that He promised to prosper him,
but how could that be if he were dead. And, how could he have many
descendents if he were dead. Of
course, Jacob already had eleven sons, so that was not an issue.
Concerning the descendents, this is yet another reference to the
Abrahamic Covenant, which is one of the main themes throughout the book
of Genesis, and the whole Bible as far as that goes.
In verse 13 we see that
Jacob spent the night where he was.
He was in great fear. This
will turn out to be one very
memorable night, not just for Jacob but for all of
The verse also says that
Jacob picked out a gift for Esau. He
really wanted Esau to know that he was coming in peace.
That's only to be expected since Esau had the army and Jacob had
no army. The gift was quite
a sizable gift as we see in verses 14 and 15.
He had set aside all sorts of cattle to give to Esau.
He really wanted peace. It's
my opinion that the gift was to appease Esau.
The text makes that clear, but behind the offer of cattle was
another motivation, or so I
think. Jacob wanted peace,
not simply to regain friendship with Esau, which I don't think he ever
had that much of, but simply so he could live in peace himself.
I don't think Jacob was interested in a relationship with his
brother, just personal peace, that is somewhat selfish.
In verse 16 Jacob had
some servants go ahead of him, with some distance between him and them.
The servants took the cattle to offer to Esau.
In verses 17 and 18 the
servants are instructed to tell Esau that all these cattle are a gift to
him from Jacob, and that Jacob is a ways behind them.
Again, the servants call Esau master and lord.
Jacob is coming not simply as a brother, but as a servant to
Esau, with the hopes that Esau will accept the gifts and him. Again,
it is my opinion that this attitude towards servanthood that Jacob had
was only meant to be self-serving, that is, to find the peace.
I'm not convinced that Jacob really thought he was Esau's
In verse 19 we see that
there were more than just one group of servants sent out ahead of Jacob.
There were at least four of these groups.
All were to say the same thing to Esau.
Jacob had no army, but he was the last in the procession of his
company. He was really
afraid, and he really wanted to give Esau time to think about what his
plans would be when he finally got to see Jacob.
Verse 20 clearly states
Jacob's intention here. The
word "pacify" is
used in this verse. Jacob
wanted to pacify Esau so he would accept him once they meet.
That's the best he could do under the circumstances.
Verse 21 simply states
that Jacob's gifts went on ahead of him while he spent the night in the
camp waiting, and again, as we will see, this is one very memorable
In verse 22 we see that
Jacob took Leah, Rachel, both Leah and Rachel's maid servants, and his
eleven sons and cross the for of the Jabbok.
"The ford of the Jabbok" is a tributary of the Jordan
River, about fifteen miles north of the
I think you can see the
relationships that meant lots to Jacob.
He didn't just take his wife and children, but he took the two
maid servants as well, the mothers of four of his children.
You might remember, but maid servants who were also concubines
were often sent away with their children because they were viewed as
second class people. Jacob
obviously did not view these two women as totally second class people,
yet in comparison to Rachel he did.
In verse 23 we then see
that all the possessions of Jacob followed across the river.
Verse 24 tells us that
Jacob stayed alone on the other side of the river.
He did not cross the river, and that night, he wrestled with a
man till daylight.
Apparently Jacob was a
pretty strong man. He
wrestled a long time and the man could not win the battle with Jacob so
the man put Jacob's hip joint out of place with a mere touch.
This simple touch begins to explain to us who this man is.
A simple touch would not put any man's hip socket out of place.
In verse 26 the man tells
Jacob to let him go since the light of day has now come. Jacob
replied by saying, "I will not let you go unless you bless
me." This too tells us
that this man was not any ordinary man.
If he was, why would Jacob demand a blessing from him?
So in verse 27 the man
asked Jacob what his name was. Jacob
answered by stating his name. Once
we know who this man was you might wonder why he asked for Jacob's name.
Verse 28 is one very
important verse. I'd go as
far to say that it is one of the most important verses to the whole
theme of the Bible. Once
Jacob told the man his name, the man said that Jacob would no longer be
his name. Jacob's name would
now be "
The man that Jacob had
been struggling with was in fact God in human flesh.
Theologians are pretty much in agreement that Jacob wrestled with
Jesus all night, because Jesus is God in human flesh.
Jesus appears many times in the Old Testament in various ways.
Many times He appears as an angel and is called "the angel
of the Lord". Here He
appears as an ordinary man. He
was both ordinary and divine. He
was ordinary in the fact that Jacob could withstand the wrestling match.
He was divine in the fact that Jacob was merely touched by Him,
putting Jacob's hip joint out of its socket.
I can't stress enough how
the meaning of the name
It is interesting to note
that God changed Jacob's name to Israel
at this point in time, but for the most part, Jacob is still called
Jacob. During the rest of
the pages of Genesis, the name Jacob appears forty five times while the
In verse 29 Jacob said,
"please tell me your name."
He really needed to have a clearer picture of who he had wrestled
with all night, and who he was presently talking too. The
man replied by saying, "why do you ask me my name."
We will see in the next verse that Jacob knew who he was talking
to. The man did not think it
was important to give Jacob a proper name.
The man blessed him at that point.
The text does not say just how Jacob was blessed or the words
used in the blessing, only that God blessed Jacob. My
guess is that the blessing re-affirmed the Abrahamic Covenant.
We see this covenant re-affirmed many times in Genesis.
In verse 30 we see that
Jacob named that place "Peniel, because he saw God face to face,
but his life was spared. Jacob
believed that if one saw God face to face, he would die, and that is
what Scripture says. But,
did Jacob see God face to face? In
one since of the word he did, but in another sense, he didn't.
He saw a human representation of God, who Jesus is, and that is
why he did not die. Seeing
God face to face, in my thinking, would kill us.
That's one reason why God came into humanity in the form of
In verse 31 we see that
when Jacob left that place he limped because of his hip socket being put
out of joint. From that
point on, he walked with a limp. He
had wrestled with God, and God left His imprint on Jacob's body.
In many ways, when you and I struggle with God, His imprint
remains with us, and we have a scar for life.
as a nation has always walked with a limp as well.
Verse 32 states that ever since that day, the Jews do not eat any part of any animal that would include the hip bone. This is pure tradition. God, or the Bible does not say that we should avoid meat with the hip bone attached to it.