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So Jacob went on his way,
and the angels of God met him.
When Jacob saw them, he said, 'This is
God's camp.' And he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
No doubt, this was an amazing experience for Jacob. He had told his
wives about the dream that God gave him, in which God had said … I
am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made
a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of
your family (31:13). Then, as soon as he obeyed and moved out … the angels of Godmet him.
How’s that for a welcoming committee, aye? And, what a huge
encouragement that must have been, for he must have had many misgivings
about what was awaiting him when he encountered Esau again. Twenty
years before, Jacob had fled because of Esau’s threat to kill him
(27:41). This powerful and visible manifestation of God’s angels must
have gone a long way to allay those fears. Jacob named the place Mahanaim, meaning two camps.
I think he was referring to the fact that he had camped in the midst of
God's camp. In Second Kings 6:15-17, Elisha’s servant received a
similar encouragement, when he too saw God’s angels. There, we read,
And when the servant of
the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding
the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, ‘Alas,
my master! What shall we do?’ So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those
who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And
prayed, and said, ‘LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then
the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the
mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
By the way, are you aware that God’s angels are constantly ministering
to you, dear saint? Hebrews
they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who
will inherit salvation?
And again, in Hebrews
13:2, speaking to believers, we read,
Do not forget to
entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained
The primary function of an angel, by the way, is to minister to the
children of God. And, as we saw in the case of Abraham, sometimes they
can appear in human form in carrying out their function. Often, people
are unaware when angels are present. They do not always appear as
angels, you see. One thing is certain. There is a spirit world.
And, it is far more real than the physical world in which you and I are
living right now. We believers constantly enjoy the ministry of God's
angels, whether we are aware of them or not, and whether they manifest
themselves openly or not. Isn't our God good! The idea of guardian
angels is a biblical one. Have you entertained any strangers lately? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Then Jacob sent
messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir,
country of Edom. And he commanded them, saying, 'Speak thus to my lord
Esau, "Thus your servant Jacob says: I have dwelt with Laban and stayed
there until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female
servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in
your sight.'" Then the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, 'We came
to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, andfour
hundred men are with him.' So Jacob
was greatly afraid and distressed;
and he divided the people that
were with him, and the flocks and herds
and camels, into two companies.
And he said, 'If Esau comes to the one
company and attacks it, then
the other company which is left will
The fear of man brings a snare, but
whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.
Isn't that a precious truth? Both sides of that scripture are
illustrated for us here in Jacob’s story. Jacob was deathly afraid of
Esau. Esau had vowed to kill him. True to the scripture above, when
Jacob allowed his fear of Esau to take over, it was a snare to him. The trouble with fearing man is that it takes the place of trusting the Lord.
It focuses one's heart and mind away from God and his promises and
causes us to focus on the problem and ourselves ... culminating in
despair and unbelief. When we fall into that trap, we find ourselves
asking questions like … What if God doesn't come through? What if I get killed? What if … What if … What if.
No doubt, over and over again, Isaac's troubling prophecy about Esau kept running through Jacob’s mind ... Behold,
your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of
heaven from above. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve
your brother; and it shall come to pass, when you become restless, that
you shall break his yoke from your neck (27:39-40).
Satan loves to put God’s people in situations like this. Then, he sets
about to accuse them, lie to them and twist the scriptures in order to
get them to take their eyes off of the Lord. I suspect that he gave
Jacob no rest. He probably said, This is the day your father's prophecy will be fulfilled and it will be fulfilled with your own blood. Then … one can only imagine the impact it had when Jacob received word that Esau was coming and that he had four hundred men
with him. Four hundred! Immediately, Jacob began to make preparations
to deal with an all-out assault. He divided up his family into two
groups and sent them on ahead. He reasoned … If Esau destroys the first group, maybe the other one can escape. The problem with all of this was, it was all about survival ... and God was left on the sideline. Ever been there?
Then Jacob said, 'O God
of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the LORD who
me, "Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well
with you": I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all
the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this
Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me,
I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear
him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the
You said, 'I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as
the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.'
When Jacob turned to God, he had come to the right place. And, furthermore, the elements of his prayer were rock solid. Rock solid, because he anchored it on two promises that God had given him. Jacob was really standing on the promises,
brother. Prayer, grounded on the promises of God, is always prayer that
is going to get answered! God had promised him that if he would return
home, I will deal well with you. Jacob reminded him of that promise. Also, God had said, I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude. Jacob reminded him of that promise as well. Jacob laid the foundation of his prayer well. Then, he made his simple request, Deliver me ... from the hand of my brother.
Stellar prayer, beloved. When you pray, dear saint, pray the promises
that God has made to you. They will always lift your prayer to a whole
We people of God are a needy people. But, praise the Lord, we have a
wonderful Father to turn to in times of great need, fear and trouble.
It would be better for us, if we never feared man and always simply
trusted our God but, in all honesty, that is not always the case. So,
in times when our world is literally crumbling all around us … we can
always do what Jacob did ... just run under the wings of our Father
above ... which, by the way, exactly what he is waiting for us to do.
The wonderful words of the Psalmist come to mind here,
Whenever I am afraid, I
will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I
my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4
Are you afraid of something or someone today, dear Saint? Take it to the Lord. Put your trust in him. He’s not called the Deliverer
for nothing. Those of us who have had children will recall the many
times when our little ones became terrified and ran to our arms.
Remember how we lifted them up … high above their little troubles and
fears? We protected them, assured them and comforted them, did we not?
So it is with our heavenly Father and his children. Although fears can
snare us, our Father is always there to lift us above them and give us
the strength and faith to overcome. So it was, that starry night, when
Jacob ran into the arms of his God. Have you ever stopped to think
about what might have happened to Jacob if he had not prayed to the
Lord for deliverance? Perhaps, Esau really was indeed intent on
murdering his brother, pillaging his flocks and seizing his goods and
family! Why else did Esau have 400 men of war with him? But, Jacob
prayed and God answers prayer. Personally, I believe God intervened
because of Jacob’s prayer and changed Esau's vengeful heart. Hebrews 4:16, says,
Let us therefore come
boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace tohelp in time of need.
So he lodged there that
same night, and took what came to his
hand as a present for Esau his
brother: two hundred female goats and
twenty male goats, two hundred
ewes and twenty rams, thirty milk camels with their colts, forty cows
and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten foals. Then he
them to the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to
his servants, 'Pass over before me, and put some distance between
successive droves.' And he commanded the first one, saying, 'When Esau
my brother meets you and asks you, saying, "To whom do you belong, and
where are you going? Whose are these in front of you?" then you shall
say, "They are your servant Jacob's. It is a present sent to my lord
Esau; and behold, he also is behind us.'" So he commanded the second,
the third, and all who followed the droves, saying, 'In this manner you
shall speak to Esau when you find him; and also say, "Behold, your
servant Jacob is behind us." For he said, 'I will appease him with the
present that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face; perhaps
he will accept me.' So the present went on over before him, but
himself lodged that night in the camp. And he arose that night and took
his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and
crossed over the ford of Jabbok.
He took them, sent them over the
brook, and sent over what he had.
You may have noticed that, in spite of the fact that Jacob was much
older now and had had several encounters with the living God, and had
prayed … still, he resorted back to conniving. He carefully plotted out
his own deliverance from the hand of Esau. He decided that his first
line of defense would be to space the second half of his people into three groups
and provide each group with gifts for Esau. Then, after that, he
decided he would send his wives across the River Jabbok, as a final
buffer between him and his brother. Jacob sent his entire family to face Esau alone.
He, himself, however, remained on the far side of the river and at the
rear of the parade. Obviously, his number one priority was … save Jacob.
Like many a child of God, he had called upon the Lord for deliverance,
but then he continued setting about to secure his own safety. And so it
was, that in that miserable and cowardly estate, that the pre-incarnate
Christ Jesus came to Jacob on the far bank of the Jabbok River. As a
result, from that time forward, Jacob’s life would never be the same.
Then Jacob was left
alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when
He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of
his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled
with him. And He said, 'Let Me go, for the day breaks.' But he
will not let You go unless You bless me!' So He said to him, 'What is
your name?' He said, 'Jacob.' And He said, 'Your name shall no longer
be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with
men, and have prevailed.' Then Jacob asked, saying, 'Tell me
I pray.' And He said, 'Why is it that
you ask about My name?' And He
blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: 'For
I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.' Just as
crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.
Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that
shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of
Jacob's hip in the muscle that shrank.
Jacob had exhausted all of his own resources and set into motion
everything he could think of to deal with Esau. Can you picture him
there, on the bank of the river Jabbok, all alone in the firelight?
Then, suddenly, a Man
stepped out of the shadows and literally laid hold of him ... and the
fight was on! The struggle was immediate and desperate. They rolled in
the dust. How fear must have risen in Jacob's throat! He probably
thought, This is an assassin from Esau! The
struggle continued throughout the night ... ebbing and flowing ... hour
after hour. Countless times, the two must have battled to a standstill
... then ... when their panting subsided and their strength had
returned ... the desperate struggle began anew. Several times Jacob
must have spoken ... but he probably received no answer. They seemed to
be evenly matched. Neither gained the upper hand on the other. But, at
the break of day, the true strength and superiority of Jacob’s
protagonist was suddenly and dramatically revealed. With the mere touch of his finger, Jacob's opponent ended the fight. Immediately, Jacob’s hip was out of joint.
Ever had something out of joint? My wife fell over an object in the
dark one time and threw her shoulder out of joint. I have never seen
her in such pain before nor since. Immediately, Jacob was hit with
excruciating pain ... then, fear ... the only good fear a human being
can have, by the way. It came from the sudden realization that this was
no mere man with whom he had been wrestling the night away. It was, in
fact, The Man, himself! The Psalmist said,
The fear of the Lord is
clean, enduring forever... Psalm 19:8a
And do not fear those who
kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who
to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a
copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your
Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not
fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore
whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My
Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will
also deny before My Father who is in heaven. Matt. 10:28-33
Jacob’s entire life, he had been in the desperate need of an
attitude adjustment. And, this night, that is what he got. And, he got
it in spades. I don’t pretend to understand the enormity of what God
actually did in Jacob that night. But, I do know that deep things took
place in his spirit ... major adjustments by the physical and spiritual
hand of the Lord of Hosts
himself. Make no mistake about it … Jacob actually wrestled with the
pre-incarnate Christ ... third member of the Trinity ... the Son of
God, himself! Jesus had wrestled with this conniving, stubborn, selfish
and bullheaded man for years. Now, he laid hold of him for real. I
repeat … there were some very deep things that happened in Jacob that
night. I don’t know that you and I can fully understand them, but the
Lord did. I just know this … He administered exactly what Jacob needed.
Somehow, Jacob had to be physically slapped down before he could be the
spiritual man God wanted him to be. This was also the case with Saul,
on the road to Damascus, by the way (Acts 9), was it not? And, I
suspect it is a more common experience in the lives of many of God’s
children than we often care to admit.
Finally, the Man spoke. Let me go, for the day breaks.
This is absolutely amazing. What a stubborn guy this conniving Jacob
was. For crying out loud, his hip was out of joint … but, he still
wouldn’t give up! Finally, as Jacob realized, more and more, who he was
wrestling with, he said … I will not let You go unless You bless me.
His request was immediately granted. Now, Jacob was finally in the
position that God had wanted him to be, all along. He had forgotten all
about Esau. He didn’t ask for prosperity or protection or any one of a
hundred other things he might have asked for. He simply asked to be blessed of God! That’s all Jacob ever needed. And, by the way, it is all that you and I ever need, as well.
Again, the Man spoke … What is your name? Jacob, he replied ... (conniver … sneak … supplanter … “Con-man”)
... a name that, up to that time, he had lived out everywhere he went.
But, there is a God who is in the people changing business. So, what we
are … does not matter. What we can become ... in our Lord's hands and with his blessing … is all that matters. The Lord said … Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.
Jacob was never the same after that night. He was changed forever, just
as his new name reflected. He was no longer the sneak and the conniver.
He was now, the Prince. That's what God can do for sinners like you and me too, beloved. He changes sneaks and connivers into princes and princesses. As you have it in II Corinthians 5:17,
Therefore, if anyone is
in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold,
all things have become new.
Jacob asked, Tell me Your name, I pray. The Lord must have smiled when Jacob asked for his name. He replied … Why is it that you ask about My name? The implication of the Lord’s answer was … You know who I am, Jacob. We've met before, have we not? Phillip asked a similar question of Jesus in John 14:8-9,
Philip said to Him,
‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is
sufficient for us.’ Jesus said to
him, ‘Have I been with you so long,
and yet you have not known Me,
Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you
'Show us the Father'?
Then, the Lord blessed Jacob.
This was a high water mark in the life of
this great saint. We believers, today, have been blessed by Him as
well. In fact, we have been blessed far beyond the blessing that he
bestowed upon Jacob that bright morning, so long ago. As you have it in
Blessed be the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has
blessed us with every
spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose
us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy
and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption
as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of
His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made
us accepted in the Beloved.
The words of David in I
Chronicles 17:27b (KJV), come to mind,
...for thou blessest, O
Lord, and it shall be blessed for ever.
There is no greater thing in life than to be the recipient of the
blessing of God, my friend. Whoever he blesses stays blessed. The Lord
blessed Jacob, and then Jacob let him go and the pre-incarnate Christ
vanished from his sight. Afterwards, Jacob called the place Peniel, meaning … the face of God … for, he said … I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. And, indeed, he surely had. He had wrestled with the very one who, one day, would become flesh
and dwell among us and personally wrestle with Jacob's sin ... and
yours and mine ... on a rugged cross ... and prevail. And, I might add,
not our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2).
Jacob was permanently injured in his physical encounter with the Lord
that long ago night. Ever after, his hip was affected and he walked
with a limp. It was a constant reminder to him of his face to face
encounter with the true and living God and his need to be completely
dependent upon him and be blessed by him. The Lord had wounded
him outwardly but healed him inwardly. To this day, the Jewish people will not eat the sinew of the hollow of the thigh of an animal, in remembrance of this amazing encounter that their father, Israel, had when his hip was thrown out of joint by the finger of God.
Now Jacob lifted his eyes
and looked, and there, Esau was coming, and with him were four hundred
men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two
maidservants. And he put the maidservants and their children in front,
Leah and her children behind, and Rachel
and Joseph last. Then he
crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times,
until he came near to his brother. But Esau
ran to meet him, and
embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.
he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, 'Who are
these with you?' So he said, 'The children whom God has graciously
given your servant.' Then the maidservants came near, they and their
children, and bowed down. And Leah also came near with her children,
and they bowed down. Afterward Joseph and Rachel came near, and they
bowed down. Then Esau said, 'What do you mean by all this company which
I met?' And he said, 'These are to find favor in the sight of my lord.'
But Esau said, 'I have enough, my
brother; keep what you have for
yourself.' And Jacob said, 'No,
please, if I have now found favor in
your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I
seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were
pleased with me. Please, take my blessing that is brought to you,
because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.'
So he urged him, and he took it.
A brother offended is
harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of
In this life, when a serious rift comes between blood brothers
and/or sisters, those schisms can be extremely difficult to resolve.
That's because it takes a lot to cause such a fracture in those deepest
of relationships in the first place. Just such a break had occurred
between Jacob and Esau. Nevertheless, nothing is impossible with God.
The worst fracture can be made whole again if God is in it. Obviously,
the Lord had been working on Esau, in respect to his brother, Jacob.
And, when the two finally saw one another, they fell upon each other's necks and wept.
Beautiful, is it not? Afterwards, Jacob pressed Esau to accept all the
gifts he had sent ahead for him and that also added to the
reconciliation. As you have it in Proverbs 17:8,
A present is a precious
stone in the eyes of its possessor; wherever he turns, he prospers.
Then Esau said, 'Let us
take our journey; let us go, and I will go before you.' But
to him, 'My lord knows that the children are weak, and the flocks and
herds which are nursing are with me. And if the men should drive them
hard one day, all the flock will die. Please let my lord go on ahead
before his servant.I will lead on
slowly at a pace which the livestock
that go before me, and the children, are able to endure, until I come
to my lordin Seir.' And Esau
said, 'Now let me leave with you some of
the people who are with me.' But he said, 'What need is there? Let me
find favor in the sight of my lord.' So
Esau returned that day on his
way to Seir. And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, built himself a house, and
made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place
called Succoth. Then Jacob
came safely to the city of Shechem, which is
in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his
tent before the city. And he bought the parcel of land, where he had
pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for one
hundred pieces of money. Then he erected an altar there and called it
El Elohe Israel.
Although Jacob and Esau were now reconciled, old wounds are hard to
heal. So apparently, they parted ... not really being comfortable with
one another's company. You can feel it in their words to one another
above. And, though they said they would meet on down the road at Seir. In actuality, they went their separate ways and Jacob ended up in Shechem.
Upon his arrival there, Jacob bought a piece of land from Hamor, which
became a key piece of real estate in biblical history. As it turns out,
Joseph's bones would one day be buried there,
after the land was conquered (Josh 24:32). And further yet, down in
history, Jesus would sit on Jacob's well there and meet a woman to whom
he would offer living water (John 4).
Now Dinah the daughter of
Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the
land. And when Shechem the son of
Hamor the Hivite, prince of the
country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her.
soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he
loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman. So
spoke to his father Hamor, saying, 'Get me this young woman as a wife.'
He who walks with wise
men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.
Do you think that Dinah just happened to be in the wrong place at the
wrong time? Or, in reality, was her rape actually a train wreck that was
waiting to happen? I believe it was the latter. I believe it occurred
because of her desire to run with the wrong crowd and her lack of
caution. Our text says that Dinah went out … to see
the daughters of
the land. What do you suppose those daughters were like? Well,
were Canaanites. Need we say more? They were idol worshippers. Their
culture was ungodly and immoral to the core. The written history of
Canaanites is among some of the most sordid accounts of ancient
history. They practiced human sacrifice. And, sexual immorality was
rampant among them. Archeologists have found that their bones are
riddled with sexually transmitted diseases. Dinah had no business
looking for friends among that crowd. And, when she did, it cost her
dearly. Take note young people. Take care who you associate with ...
who you decide to make friends with ... what kind of crowd you decide
to run with. They can mean the difference between a good life for you …
and ruin. Listen carefully to God's Word quoted above in Proverbs
13:20, above. Think about it. Let it sink in. It can’t be over stated
how important it is that we make good choices when it comes to our
friends. This is the principle that Proverbs 27:10, has in
mind when it says,
Do not forsake … your
Real, solid, godly friends are hard to come by and are to be treasured.
Now, after Shechem raped Dinah, he fell in love with her. Then, he
proceeded to attempt to acquire her for his wife. In reality though,
Shechem's love was a sham. It was that Hollywood variety of love. His
love was all about infatuation
(the world's definition of love). If he had any clue as to what real
love was, he would never have raped Dinah in the first place. True love
is a far cry from what Shechem thought it was. I Corinthians 13,
presents us with the true picture of what real love is.
And Jacob heard that he
had defiled Dinah his daughter. Now his sons were with his livestock in
the field; so Jacob held his peace until they came. Then Hamor the
father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. And the sons of
Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were
grieved and very angry, because he had done a disgraceful thing
Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter, a thing which ought not to be
done. But Hamor spoke with them, saying, 'The soul of my son Shechem
longs for your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife. And make
marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters to
yourselves. So you shall dwell with us, and the land shall be before
you. Dwell and trade in it, and acquire possessions for yourselves in
it.' Then Shechem said to her father
and her brothers, 'Let me find
favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. Ask me ever
so much dowry and gift, and I will give according to what you say to
me; but give me the young woman as a wife.' But the sons of
answered Shechem and Hamor his father, and spoke deceitfully, because
he had defiled Dinah their sister. And they said to them, 'We cannot do
this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for
would be a reproach to us. But on this
condition we will consent to
you: If you will become as we are, if every male of you is circumcised,
then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters
to us; and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. But
if you will not heed us and be circumcised, then we will take our
daughter and be gone.' And their words pleased Hamor and Shechem,
Hamor's son. ' "So the young man did not delay to do the thing, because
he delighted in Jacob's daughter. He was more honorable than all the
household of his father. And Hamor and Shechem his son came to the gate
of their city, and spoke with the men of their city, saying: 'These men
are at peace with us. Therefore let them dwell in the land and trade in
it. For indeed the land is large enough for them. Let us take their
daughters to us as wives, and let us give them our daughters. Only on
this condition will the men consent to dwell with us, to be one people:
if every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. Will not
their livestock, their property, and every animal of theirs be ours?
Only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us.' And all who
went out of the gate of his city heeded Hamor and Shechem his son;
every male was circumcised, all
who went out of the gate of his city.
Now it came to pass on the third day,
when they were in pain, that two
of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, each took his
sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males.
killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took
Dinah from Shechem's house, and went out. The sons of Jacob came upon
the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been
defiled. They took their sheep, their
oxen, and their donkeys, what was
in the city and what was in the field, and all their wealth. All their
little ones and their wives they took captive; and they plundered even
all that was in the houses.
The rage of Dinah’s brothers, and their desire for revenge,
exploded into coldblooded, premeditated murder. Consequently, the
transgression of the sons of Jacob far exceeded what Shechem had done.
This is why you and I are not to judge, by the way. When we fallible
humans judge one another, we always go too far, or we don't go far
enough. We never get it just right. Only the Omniscient One … the Judge
of the whole earth … always gets it right. He judges with absolute
righteousness and justice. God's Word says,
So then, my beloved
brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James
Now, keep in mind that what we are reading here is history. It is
what happened. The Bible does not condone it. God did not order it.
Levi and Simeon carried out their revenge on their own. In their anger,
no doubt they felt they were justified, but they weren't. Those who, in
wrath, take revenge, always feel they are justified. Shechem didn't
deserve this stiff a penalty … not to mention all the other inhabitants
of the city.
Then Jacob said to Simeon
and Levi, 'You have troubled me by making me obnoxious among the
inhabitants of the land, among the Caananites and the
since I am few in number, they will gather themselves together against
me and kill me. I shall be destroyed, my household and I.' But they
said, 'Should he treat our sister like
Jacob was right when he told Simeon and Levi that the inhabitants
of the land would surely band together and come after them. And, that's
exactly what they tried to do. They viewed the murder of Shechem and
the blood bath at his city as an atrocity that required immediate
retaliation and they now saw Jacob and his clan as dangerous renegades
who must be dealt with before they killed again.
I wish that Jacob had spoken to his sons about the moral issues of
their actions and not just how they had jeopardized the family’s
safety. But, apparently, he didn’t. His boys justified themselves
saying … Should he treat our sister like a harlot? Jacob should have replied … But, did he deserve to die? And, what about the others who you killed? What did they do?
This is not the last word on this incident, by the way. Jacob carried
it in his heart to his dying day. At the time, he glossed over it with
his sons, but he never forgot what these two boys had done and what
they were capable of doing. And, when it came time to bless them from
his deathbed, he finally told them what he should have told them way
back here. He said,
Simeon and Levi are
brothers; Instruments of cruelty are
in their dwelling place. Let not
my soul enter their council; Let not my honor be united to their
assembly; For in their anger they slew a man, and in their
they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their
anger, for it is fierce; and
their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and
them in Israel. Genesis 49:5
Then God said to Jacob,
'Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to
God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau
brother.' And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him,
'Put away the foreign gods that are
among you, purify yourselves, and
change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will
make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress
and has been with me in the way which I have gone.' So they gave Jacob
all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which
were in their ears; and Jacob hid
them under the terebinth tree which
was by Shechem. And they journeyed, and the terror of God was upon the
cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the
Jacob. So Jacob came to Luz
(that is, Bethel), which is in
the land of
Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. And he built an altar
there and called the place El Bethel,
because there God appeared to him
when he fled from the face of his brother. Now Deborah, Rebekah's
nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the terebinth tree.
So the name of it was called Allon
It's an amazing thing how God, down through the ages, has worked
with fallen man. We find here that God was not the only deity that was
worshiped in the Jacob household. Many of Jacob's family were
polytheists. They worshiped many gods. So, the Lord instructed Jacob … put away the foreign gods that are among you.
You will remember that Rachel had stolen Laban’s household gods and
kept them. Now, it is a very hard thing to put an idol away, once it
has been accepted into one's life and home. So, Jacob didn’t completely
put them away. He buried them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem.
Why did he do that? Why didn’t he destroy them? Since the tree was a
landmark, we can only conclude that Jacob intended to retrieve them in
the future when he wanted them back again. Have you ever done that,
dear saint? An idol is anything in the life of a Christian that is
desired more than the desire for the Lord Jesus Christ. As we have it
in Colossians 3:5,
Therefore put to death
your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion,
evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
May I say to you, we need to frequently examine our lives in this
area. We believers should do frequent “idol sweeps” of our hearts. We
need to ask ourselves … What is in this heart of mine that I desire more than I desire the Lord Jesus? What are my idols?
Is it possessions or a relationship ... a position or money ...
prestige or education, or some so-called “addiction”? Once we have
defined it, then we can turn from it and forsake it completely. Getting
rid of an idol is a four step process:
First, we need to
lay it at Jesus' feet and call it what it is.
Second, we need to
ask the Lord to forgive us for making it an idol in the first place (I
Third, we need to ask Jesus to deliver us
altogether. I can't overemphasize the importance of this
third step. It
is not our job to clean ourselves up, beloved. That is God’s job. It is
the Lord's job to sanctify his people. Our job is to go to him.
is to clean us up and to deliver us.
Fourth, we must
forsake it completely. Walk away and never look back.
Then, the Lord instructed Jacob to return to Bethel and to build an
altar there. Notice that God sent a supernatural terror of the Jacob
clan upon all the Canaanites of the land. God had said he would be with
Jacob, you see. And, true to his word, Jacob was spared the wrath of
the Canaanites. Out of that “dog eat dog” world, God was calling out a
people for his name's sake ... sinners like Jacob and his sons. Someone
has said … It doesn't amaze me that God sends people to Hell … it amazes me that God saves anybody from Hell in the first place! Praise God for his grace and mercy to sinners like you and me, Amen?
In verse 8, the death of Deborah,
Jacob's mother's nurse, is recorded. You will recall that this dear
lady went with Rebekah when she left Laban's house to become the wife
of Isaac (24:59). For the first time, we are given her name here at the
recording of her death. Being Rebekah's nurse meant that she actually
nursed little Rebekah as an infant. After that, she faithfully served
her all the remaining years of her life and, after the death of
Rebekah, she had remained on with the Jacob family. The death of this
old and faithful servant was bitter to them all. They buried her under
an oak that they named Allon Bachuth … oak of weeping.
God takes note of his obscure, but faithful, saints. I am convinced
that, at the judgment seat of Christ, we will not be evaluated on the
basis of what we accomplished on Earth. We will be judged for our
faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that is why Deborah's
name is written here in the eternal Word of God. She was one of the
Lord's faithful children. She was faithful to the task that he assigned
her in life. And, she was faithful in it … all the way to the end of her life.
Then God appeared to
Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. And
said to him, 'Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob
anymore, but Israel shall be your name.'
So He called his name Israel.
Also God said to him: 'I am God
Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a
nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall
come from your body. The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to
you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.' Then
up from him in the place where He talked with him. So Jacob set up a
pillar in the place where He talked with him, a pillar of stone; and he
poured a drink offering on it, and he poured oil on it. And Jacob
called the name of the place where God spoke with him, Bethel.
Once again, God appeared to Jacob. Apparently, he had not taken on
the new name that God had given to him on the banks of the Jabbok River
(32:28). He was still going by his old name. Perhaps he had not taken
the Lord’s words too seriously. After all, a name change, this late in
life, was no small thing. However, God reminded him afresh that his
name was now Israel. It was important because it not only indicated the change in Jacob's character (from conniver to prince with God),
but it was also the name that would one day identify all of his
descendants for all time. In addition, the Lord also reiterated the
Covenant to Jacob, which he had confirmed to his father, Isaac, and
first instituted with Abraham.
Another important thing to see here is that the Lord identified himself to Jacob as El Shaddai … God Almighty. This is the same name he used when he spoke to Abraham and first gave him these same promises back in 17:1. The name means the all powerful One.
The Lord identified himself with this name to assure Jacob that he is
perfectly capable of accomplishing what he promises. It was El Shaddai
who was going to rise up a nation from Israel … indeed, a company of
nations (the twelve tribes of Israel) … and give them the Promised Land
for their future home. Now, when God Almighty says he is going to do
something, brother, you can take it to the bank. It's going to get done!
Then they journeyed from
Bethel. And when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath,
Rachel labored in childbirth, and she
had hard labor. Now it came to
pass, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said to her, 'Do not
fear; you will have this son also.' And so it was, as her soul was
departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but
father called him Benjamin. So
Rachel died and was buried on the way to
Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). And Jacob set a pillar on her grave,
which is the pillar of Rachel's grave to this day.
And so, there on the road to Bethlehem, one of the great love
stories in the Bible came to an end. Jacob's beloved Rachel, whom he
had obtained by working for 14 years for Laban, died there ... while
giving birth to Benjamin.
This was Israel’s twelfth son. Joseph now had a little brother but,
they had both lost their mother and Israel had lost the great love of
his life. What a dark day that must have been. The pillar that Israel
used to mark Rachel's grave was still standing there over five hundred
years later, when Saul was instructed by Samuel to go there to find his
father's lost donkeys (I Sam.10:2).
Then Israel journeyed and
pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder. And it happened, when Israel
dwelt in that land, that Reuben went
and lay with Bilhahhis
concubine; and Israel heard about it.
you will remember, was a servant-wife. She was someone who was owned to
begin with, but who, in time, became an additional wife. For a servant
girl, in the context of such times and cultures, this was considered a
great promotion and was a great elevation in status. Israel had two
such concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah, just as his grandfather, Abraham,
Now, Reuben was Jacob's firstborn and his sexual violation of Bilhah
was a horrendous wrong. And, it would cost him dearly. He lost his
birthright over this transgression. The birthright was a double portion
of the inheritance. Jacob's final words to this boy were … you will not excel (Gen. 49:3-4). Sin always has consequences, even when it does not seem readily apparent. As you have it in Numbers 32:23b,
...and be sure your sin
will find you out.
I don’t believe that it was by accident that the death of Rachel
and Reuben's defilement of Bilhah both occurred in such close proximity
to each other. You will remember that Bilhah was Rachel’s maid, who she
gave to Jacob to raise up children in her name. But, Reuben was Leah’s
firstborn. Are you getting the picture? Did Reuben do this in order to
remove Bilhah from the marital picture? I believe there is strong
evidence here that that was exactly why he did it. After his violation
of her, both Rachel and her maid, Bilhah, were then put out of the
picture and Leah, Reuben's mother, had Israel all to herself, along
with her maid, Zilpah.
For years, Leah had longed and prayed for her husband’s love. And, I
believe that now, in their old age, Leah finally got her wish. She had
Israel’s undivided attention and I think he came to love her much more
dearly for who and what she really was ... his true wife, friend and mother of nine of his children.
It is quite telling that Israel didn't take Rachel's body to the cave
of Macpelah for burial … where Abraham and Sarah were buried. On
the contrary, it would be Jacob and Leah who would one day be interred
there. God designed marriage to be monogamous ... one man and one
woman. Leah was Israel's first and true wife and God saw to it that
they would end their lives together ... loving one another.
Now the sons of Jacob
were twelve: the sons of Leah were Reuben, Jacob's firstborn,
Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun; the sons of Rachel were
Joseph and Benjamin; the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's maidservant, were Dan
and Naphtali; and the sons of Zilpah, Leah's maidservant, were Gad and
Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Padan Aram.
Again, please note how that the Word of God lists Jacob’s true
wife, Leah, first here. She was Jacob's first wife, and therefore, his
only scripturally correct wife … regardless of how it had come about.
She was blessed of the Lord and bore Jacob 6 sons. Then, Rachel had 2
sons; Bilhah had 2 and Zilpah had 2. These sons became the twelve
tribes of Israel.
Then Jacob came to his
father Isaac at Mamre, or Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham
and Isaac had dwelt. Now the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty
years. So Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his
people, being old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried
With the death of Isaac here, we come to another milestone in the
history of God's people. Isaac was a man of peace and a type of the
Lord Jesus Christ. Forever after, one way that God would described
himself was as … the God of Abraham and Isaac.
Again, notice the way the Lord describes death here. He tells us that Isaac … was gathered to his people.
Isn't that precious? At the point of death, Isaac found himself in the
middle of a great reunion. He found himself in the presence of his
father, Abraham, and his mother, Sarah, and many other godly relatives
and friends. My own mother passed away in 2005. She was 91. Afterwards,
as I would pass by her empty room, it seemed like she was still there …
but the bed was empty and the room was silent. I could still see the
grooves that her walker made as she went back and forth to the
bathroom. My greatest prayer warrior was gone and I felt an emptiness
that only she could fill. However, I took comfort in the thought that
not only was she taken into the presence of her Lord, but she was
gathered to her people. She was with her father, Cliff, and her mother,
Bertha, her brother and her sisters, her grandpa Mose, (a great saint
who lived in Big Spring, Texas, and often preached when the pastor was
absent) and many others. It is a great and sure hope that we have in
knowing that we will one day be reunited with our loved ones in the
presence of the Lord. As you have it in Second Corinthians 5:6,
So we are always
confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent
from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident,
yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present
with the Lord.
And praise God, should we not have to die at all, but live until the
Rapture of the Church, the reunion will be even greater. As you have
it in I Thessalonians
For if we believe that
Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who
sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we
who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means
precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from
heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the
trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are
alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to
meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Sweet, as the young folks say.
Amen!, say us oldsters.
Now this is the genealogy
of Esau, who is Edom. Esau took his wives from the daughters of
Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite; Aholibamah the daughter of Anah,
the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite; and Basemath, Ishmael's daughter,
sister of Nebajoth. Now Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, and Basemath bore
Reuel. And Aholibamah bore Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah. These were the
sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan. Then Esau took
his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the persons of his
household, his cattle and all his animals, and all his goods which he
had gained in the land of Canaan, and went to a country away from the
presence of his brother Jacob. For their possessions were too great for
them to dwell together, and the land where they were strangers could
not support them because of their livestock. So Esau dwelt in Mount
Seir. Esau is Edom.
Finally here, we have Esau’s genealogy. It is proof of the fulfillment
of God word to Rebekah, back in 25:23, where the Lord said to her … Two
nations are in thy womb. From Jacob came the nation of Israel.
Esau, came the nation of Edom.
And this is the genealogy
of Esau the father of the Edomites in Mount Seir. These were the
of Esau's sons: Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, and Reuel the
son of Basemath the wife of Esau. And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman,
Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. Now Timna was the concubine of Eliphaz,
Esau's son, and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These were the sons of
Adah, Esau's wife. These were the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah,
Shammah, and Mizzah. These were the sons of Basemath, Esau's wife.
These were the sons of Aholibamah, Esau's wife, the daughter of Anah,
the daughter of Zibeon. And she bore to Esau: Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah.
These were the chiefs of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz, the
firstborn son of Esau, were Chief Teman, Chief Omar, Chief Zepho,
Chief Kenaz, Chief Korah, Chief Gatam, and Chief Amalek. These were the
chiefs of Eliphaz in the land of Edom. They were the sons of Adah.
These were the sons of Reuel, Esau's son: Chief Nahath, Chief Zerah,
Chief Shammah, and Chief Mizzah. These were the chiefs of Reuel in the
land of Edom. These were the sons of Basemath, Esau's wife. And these
were the sons of Aholibamah, Esau's wife: Chief Jeush, Chief Jaalam,
and Chief Korah. These were the chiefs who descended from Aholibamah,
Esau's wife, the daughter of Anah. These were the sons of Esau, who is
Edom, and these were their chiefs. These were the sons of Seir the
Horite who inhabited the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon,
Ezer, and Dishan. These were the chiefs of the Horites, the sons of
Seir, in the land of Edom. And the sons of Lotan were Hori and Hemam.
Lotan's sister was Timna. These were the sons of Shobal: Alvan,
Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. These were the sons of Zibeon: both
Ajah and Anah. This was the Anah who found the water in
as he pastured the donkeys of his father Zibeon. These were the
children of Anah: Dishon and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah. These
were the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. These were
the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan. These were the sons of
Dishan: Uz and Aran. These were the chiefs of the Horites: Chief Lotan,
Chief Shobal, Chief Zibeon, Chief Anah, Chief Dishon, Chief Ezer, and
Chief Dishan. These were the chiefs of the Horites, according to their
chiefs in the land of Seir.
I love the little details that the Word of God includes, don’t you?
This fellow, Anah, for instance, is known by the fact that he
discovered water out there in the desert while he was caring for his
father’s donkeys. These bits of information speak of the fact that the Bible is indeed a history book but, also, that God loves people and takes note of them and enters into each and every event of their lives.
Anah was probably just a boy. One day he was out there keeping his
dad’s donkeys and he found water. Boys have a way of doing things like
that, by the way, and the Lord loves being involved in it. No one else
knew that water was there. In that wilderness, Anah’s finding was
better than finding gold. It made him famous beyond his wildest dreams
for we find him and his discovery recorded here in the eternal Word of
God. Not bad for a kid, aye?
Now these were the kings
who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the
children of Israel: Bela
the son of Beor reigned in Edom, and the name
of his city was Dinhabah. And when Bela died, Jobab the son of Zerah of
Bozrah reigned in his place. When Jobab died, Husham of the land of the
Temanites reigned in his place. And when Husham died, Hadad the son of
Bedad, who attacked Midian in the field of Moab, reigned in his place.
And the name of his city was Avith. When Hadad died, Samlah of Masrekah
reigned in his place. And when Samlah died, Saul of
Rehoboth-by-the-River reigned in his place. When Saul died, Baal-Hanan
the son of Achbor reigned in his place. And when Baal-Hanan the son of
Achbor died, Hadar reigned in
his place; and the name of his city was
Pau. His wife's name was Mehetabel,
the daughter of Matred, the
daughter of Mezahab. And these were the names of the chiefs of Esau,
according to their families and their places, by their names: Chief
Timnah, Chief Alvah, Chief Jetheth, Chief Aholibamah, Chief Elah, Chief
Pinon, Chief Kenaz, Chief Teman, Chief Mibzar, Chief Magdiel, and Chief
Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their dwelling
in the land of their possession. Esau
was the father of the Edomites.
Our chapter ends with a list of the kings of Edom. Again, this is proof
positive that the descendants of Esau became a nation … just as God had
foretold they would.