Archive for October, 2016

Genesis 32:26-29 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 11

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau but along the way, Jacob faces an unknown assailant who fights with him until dawn? Jacob wouldn’t let the man go. Even after his hip is dislocated, Jacob still holds on and, of all things, asks the man for a blessing (See Part’s 1-10).

What sort of blessing is he after? We don’t know.

  1. BE WILLING TO CHANGE

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Be Willing to Change. Key Photo by GaborfromHungary, MorgueFiles

“What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won” (Genesis 32:27-28 NLT).

So this verse finally tells us who it is who has been wrestling with Jacob, and I am surprised that it is God. God in human form is always astonishing, and this is one of the strangest examples of a Theophany in history.  

“What is your name?” God asks. Jacob had to admit that he was Jacob, meaning the supplanter, the deceiver. Years ago, when his father had asked him “Who are you, my son?” Jacob had lied and told him that he was Esau in order to receive the blessing. Now he admits that he is Jacob and receives the blessing that God always intended. He comes before God with honest intention and his name is changed.

This was not a dream because Jacob came away with a physical injury; a limp for the rest of his life, and a name change that established his faith and authority. We are not told directly, but it is inferred that God changed Jacob’s name because Jacob means deceiver, supplanter, and Israel means One who has struggled with God and man. Change of name, change of spiritual authority.

Am I prepared to allow God to confront my past in order to move on into the future with His purposes for my life? Wrestling with God will change me forever.

  1. ACCEPT THAT NOT ALL QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED

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Not all Questions Will Be Answered © by Ross Cochrane

Why would God attack Jacob? We are not told. How does Jacob start to win? We don’t know. Why would God dislocate Jacob’s hip? Does God inflict harm on his servants? This may have been a spiritual struggle but it resulted in a physical injury delivered by God with a striking blow of violence. Why did Jacob ask God for a blessing after being injured? The writer is obviously not interested in answering my questions.

Lord, You do some strange things sometimes. Wrenching a socket out from Jacob’s thigh is not exactly what Jacob would have expected that night. It was certainly not what I expected You would do, especially since he is about to face Esau’s army of 400 men. If he wasn’t humbled before, he is now?

Lord, aren’t You the One who heals us, not cripples us? Yet the Hebrew word ‏נגע‎ naga apparently means an aggressive “strike” designed to harm. The blow that came from Your hand was so violent and disabling. How do I come to a place of blessing when there is so much pain? (Find out in Part 12. Coming Soon.)

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 32:25-26 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 10

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. As if that is not stressful enough, along the way, Jacob faces an unknown assailant? Sometimes we will need to expect the unexpected. And it may be painful.

  1. UNDERSTAND THAT CONFLICTS CAN BE PAINFUL

 

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Pain. © by Ross Cochrane

“When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket” (Genesis 32:25 NLT).

So this is quite a violent thing to do. It must be painful to have your hip wrenched out of its socket. If this unknown assailant could do that, He could obviously finish Jacob off.

All his battles and lies have only ended up with him being expelled from the very land that God had promised to him in order to escape Esau. He has spent most of his life wrestling with people; with Esau, his mother and father, Laban, his own wives. Jacob is at the end of his resources in every way.

This time his struggle must be with the only one who can truly give him the blessing. Jacob is beginning to realise that the real battle for the promises of God is not with Esau but with this unnamed aggressor.

A.W. Tozer apparently said, “The Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him.”

Still hanging on to this man and unwilling to let him go, Jacob realises that somehow God is in this fight and this is the greatest conflict of his life. No matter what, he knows that it is too soon to give up.

  1. HOLD ON. IT IS WORTH IT IN THE END.

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Hold on. © by Ross Cochrane

“But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me”” (Genesis 32:26 NLT).

Jacob still wouldn’t let the man go. Even after his hip is dislocated, Jacob still holds on and of all things asks the man for a blessing.

Now this gives us a hint at who the man must be. He has to be someone more powerful than Jacob if Jacob asks him for a blessing. Jacob must have come to recognise who he is wrestling with. But still, we are not told until later.

His assailant is definitely not Esau. Esau had no blessing to bestow on Jacob. It had already been obtained, so this is not Esau or one of his assassins.

Am I willing to hold on, even when things are painful and difficult and overwhelming in the conflict? Am I willing to insist on finding a blessing that will redeem all that I have lost in the battle? When life strikes a blow that crushes me, am I willing to hold on?

Jacob has been involved in the greatest conflict of all. How do I find blessing from battle? What does all this mean? (Find out in Part 11. Coming soon).

Pastor Ross

 

Genesis 32:21-24 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 9

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see part 1-8).

The stress of conflict can easily consume us and have an impact on all our relationships. What can Jacob teach us about this?

  1. MINIMISE THE STRESS OF CONFLICT ON OTHERS

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© Battle Shield. Picture created by Ross Cochrane.

“So the gifts were sent on ahead, while Jacob himself spent that night in the camp. During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them” (Genesis 32:21-22 NLT).

People are more important than profit. Family is more important than our personal battles. Sending his family over the brook in the cover of darkness, Jacob hopes they will be shielded and safe. “After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions” (Genesis 32:23 NLT). 

Possessions are less important than protecting the people you love.

Jacob remains in camp. He is not a coward. He is not retreating. His servants are still moving forward with his gifts to Esau. He is not returning the birthright or blessing to Esau with these gifts, but making restitution for the sinful way in which they were obtained. He is not negating his birthright or blessing by his offering, but proving that God has indeed blessed him and he is able to give to Esau of the proceeds by way of reparation. Sooner or later they will meet.

Now Jacob is left alone. He has prayed, and offered restitution. What could possibly go wrong?

  1. BE WILLING TO FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN

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© Ready for Spiritual Battle. Image created by Ross Cochrane

“This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break” (Genesis 32:24 NLT). 

So it’s come to this. A fight behind the back shed. Hopefully, it won’t come to a literal wrestling match for us but Ephesians 6:10-20 tells us we can expect to be in a spiritual battle. We are told to put on God’s armour, to stay alert and be prepared so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil. But it seems that Jacob is in a spiritual battle of a very different nature.

Jacob is assaulted by someone waiting in the dark. So who is this man? Why does he want to wrestle with Jacob? Is this one of Esau’s Assassins trying to kill Jacob? No. A troll-like guardian of the river? (Let’s not get ridiculous). This would freak me out. Is this a dream?

It is just not acceptable for God’s diplomat to be rolling around on the ground fighting with an unknown assailant. He wanted to be alone and now there’s no-one to help him. Where are the angels when you need them? When he first arrived he had seen the angels. They seem to be up in the stands somewhere, unseen, but viewing the spiritual battle that is taking place.

The opponent is stated to be a man. Why he gets into a wrestling match, we don’t know. Jacob has always gained victory in his life through deceit. Now he is humbled by honest contest.

And Jacob is no spring chicken. He’s 97 years old. The adrenaline that rushed through his body because of this sudden assault enables him to hold his own. He’s a wiry old bloke. And he’s fighting for what he believes in.

But what happens when you fight for what you believe in and it doesn’t all go as you expected? (Find out in Part 10, coming soon).

Pastor Ross

Genesis 32:1720 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 8

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see part 1-7). How do you prepare to meet with someone who is suspicious of your motives?

  1. ANTICIPATE THE QUESTIONS THAT WILL BE RAISED

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Anticipate Loaded Questions – I have used the Knotted Gun Sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd and adjusted it to look like a question mark (Ross Cochrane).

He gave these instructions to the men leading the first group: “When my brother, Esau, meets you, he will ask, ‘Whose servants are you? Where are you going? Who owns these animals?’ You must reply, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob, but they are a gift for his master Esau. Look, he is coming right behind us’” (Genesis 32:17-18 NLT).  

Jacob anticipates the questions that Esau will ask and gets in ahead with the answers. This is a well-researched, well-managed exercise, taking every possibility into account. Esau is expecting Jacob behind every herd. Jacob is in last place this time, not first.

Did God command Jacob to do this? No. There is no record that this is directly commanded by God, but his plan appears to be a result of having been with God in prayer.

Jacob gave the same instructions to the second and third herdsmen and to all who followed behind the herds: “You must say the same thing to Esau when you meet him(Genesis 32:19 NLT). The message will be repeated a number of times.

And be sure to say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.’” Jacob thought, “I will try to APPEASE him by sending gifts ahead of me. When I see him in person, perhaps he will be friendly to me” (Genesis 32:20 NLT). 

This is not a deceptive strategy, but very straightforward, open and honest.

Yes, it is true that Jacob is trying to appease Esau. Apparently, the word “Appease” means “to pacify, to make an atonement, to make reconciliation”. Literally “to cover his face” and it has the idea that Esau can no longer see Jacob’s shame.

He offers a gift to make atonement and recompense for a rift in a relationship. Some have said that this implies that Jacob makes peace with God by reconciling with Esau.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:22-24 (NLT) if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”  

It has taken twenty years. He didn’t exactly go straight away, but at least Jacob is doing something now.

The stress of conflict can easily consume us and have an impact on all our relationships. What can Jacob teach us about this? (See Part 9…)

Pastor Ross

Genesis 32:13-16 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 7

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive because Esau lost respect for Jacob a long time ago. (see part 1-6).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? How can you convince someone to meet with you when you have lost respect in their eyes?

  1. MAKE IT EASY FOR THE OTHER PERSON TO COME TO THE TABLE

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© Flowers of Atonement, by Ross Cochrane

Jacob stayed where he was for the night. Then he selected these gifts from his possessions to present to his brother, Esau:(Genesis 32:13 NLT).  

After prayer, Jacob didn’t fall to pieces but sought to make it easy for Esau to talk. To avoid triggering further conflict Jacob sets about giving recompense for the deception he used so many years ago when he stole the birthright and blessing from Esau.

Now he is getting things right with his brother without compromising on the promises of God. The aftermath of failures can be used by God to grant success. Perhaps this is why God has blessed him materially. So that he could make restitution to Esau, with interest.

Some accuse Jacob of trying to buy Esau’s favor, but it’s always easy to be suspicious of his motives when an olive branch is extended. He has just been in prayer. This is more likely to be a response from the time he has spent with God.

200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 15 30 female camels with their young, 40 cows, 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys, and 10 male donkeys(Genesis 32:14-15 NLT).  

This is a fortune but Jacob has a moral obligation. He is being exceptionally generous but these animals were never really meant for him. All these animals are valuable but restitution is due. Jacob shows Esau that he respects and cares about the unrealised issues in their relationship that may still be important to him.

He divided these animals into herds and assigned each to different servants. Then he told his servants, “Go ahead of me with the animals, but keep some distance between the herds”(Genesis 32:16 NLT).

He decides to drip-feed the animals to Esau, one herd at a time. Wave after wave of gifts. He’s not running away, but making it easy for his brother to come to the negotiating table.

God’s blessings to Jacob become Esau’s gift of restoration. So much of that with which we are blessed is not meant for us but is for giving away to others. So often our response to God’s material blessings are put to the test. Are we willing to let them go?

What if Esau is suspicious of Jacob’s motives like so many commentators have been? (Find out. Read Part 8. Coming soon).

Pastor Ross

Genesis 32:10-12 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 6

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see part 1-5).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? What do you do about it if your actions have caused the conflict?

  1. ADMIT YOUR PART IN THE CONFLICT

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© Unworthy but not worthless. Created by Ross Cochrane.

“I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps!” (Genesis 32:10 NLT).

He’s right. He is not worthy. He has lied to his father and cheated his brother. He left the country bankrupt because you can never achieve a worthy end with unworthy means. Finally, he starts to realize that he has lived his life making decisions apart from God. Perhaps he is saying, “Lord I am the younger brother. I didn’t deserve the birthright or blessing on my life because they were obtained through deception and not from Your Hand. They gained me nothing but exile. Despite being as unworthy as I am, when I have trusted You, You have only shown Your love and faithful provision for my life.”

Isaiah 53:6 (NLT) says “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” But now, in the crisis of this moment, Jacob makes himself subservient to God who has been with him in the process of a lifetime. He is unworthy but not worthless. He humbles himself before God just as he humbles himself before Esau. “Servant of all”.

This will test Jacob’s faith and character. Will he have what it takes for God’s promise to be fulfilled with integrity, humility and respect rather than try to gain the blessing from his self-motivated arrogant willfulness?

Recognising that we have a responsibility in owning our part in the conflict is important. Jacob is being real with God and Esau.

  1. BE SPECIFIC IN WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE HAPPEN

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© Specific Target. Created by Ross Cochrane.

“O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. 

But You promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count’” (Genesis 32:11-12 NLT).

Jacob gets down to the specifics. He’s learned a lot about God; His promises, His faithful love, not to mention an angelic army. He doesn’t have nearly as much regard for Esau. He fears that he and his family will be massacred.

As God’s diplomat, he has been appointed with letters of accreditation in the form of a promise which enables him to carry out his duties on behalf of the King of kings within the jurisdiction of this land. He is a servant and ambassador for God’s purposes. But right now he is wondering about his diplomatic immunity from Esau’s arrows.

In prayer, Jacob the deceiver reminds God about His promises, and no doubt prayer also had a way of reminding him about the faithfulness of God.

He will need to take proactive steps to restore his credibility with Esau. Not so easy. How can you convince someone to meet with you when you have lost respect in their eyes? (Find out in Part 7, coming soon).

Pastor Ross  

Genesis 32:9 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 5

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see part 1-4).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? When you need urgent counsel, who do you talk to?

  1. TALK THINGS OVER WITH SOMEONE YOU TRUST
IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER

Lifeline © Image created by Ross Cochrane.

“Then Jacob prayed, “O God…”” (Genesis 32:9 NLT).

Sure, you might want a human counselor, but when it comes to trusting someone, God is a great contact.

Jacob comes to God in prayer. This is crisis prayer but shows that God is becoming a more central figure in his life. In fact, this prayer is central to all that happens in this story. It leaves me to consider that if Jacob has a history of significant interactions with God, then prayer is a key factor to the outcomes of my own life today.

 

 

 

  1. LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE

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Heritage © book created by Julie Cochrane. Photo by Ross Cochrane

“O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, You told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And You promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly’” (Genesis 32:9 NLT). 

To be blessed by God and then murdered by his brother doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. When all we can see are the difficult circumstances, we miss out on seeing God’s past record of faithfulness. Prayer draws us back into the reality of God’s intentions.

Jacob is laying it out on the line with God in prayer. There is family history in his relationship with God. There is a covenant in place and so far it has all worked out. God has been faithful.

My wife has a wonderful heritage of faith extending back generations in her family, but any follower of Christ has become a part of the generational blessing and faithfulness of God over centuries and we have good reason to develop trust. We do so on the basis of a new covenant with God made through the death of Christ.

Hebrews 8:6-13 (NLT) says “But now Jesus, … mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises: “… I will put My laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. … And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

From Genesis 28:12-15, it’s quite clear that God was with Jacob and would protect him wherever he went. God had big plans for Jacob and his sons. Jesus would eventually come from his line. If Esau wanted to escalate conflict, then he really didn’t have a chance.

We have the history and heritage of God’s faithfulness and forgiveness going back thousands of years. Yet sometimes it is our own past history and lack of faithfulness that gets in our way of trusting in God.

Jacob was the big man, knowing that he was in the right, when he stood up to Laban. But with Esau, he knows he has done the wrong thing.

What do you do when your actions have caused the conflict? (Find out more. Part 6 is coming).

Pastor Ross

Genesis 32:7-8 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 4

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see parts 1-3).

When a conflict management meeting starts to go south, what can you do?

  1. MASTER YOUR EMOTIONS

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© Control Your Emotions by Ross Cochrane

“Jacob was terrified at the news…” (Genesis 32:7 NLT).

OK, so Jacob is not exactly cool, calm and collected about the news of an army of 400 men coming his way. And neither are you, if you are honest, when faced with conflict.

But once again, Jacob observes the facts of the situation as objectively as he can. So often in conflict management, we have limited information, much of which is anything but good. But here Jacob has a window of opportunity, a timeframe within which he must respond with something concrete and positive. The clock is counting down and at the moment he has about 24 hours to defuse this potentially explosive situation.

  1. REMAIN OPEN TO IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBILITIES

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© Remain open to possibilities by Ross Cochrane

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Jacob can only assume that past history will dictate how Esau will handle this conflict. Esau was always a hunter. A whole lot more information is needed but all Jacob can go with is what little he has. If he remains open to the possibility that Esau may be willing to negotiate, then he may still be able to pour oil on the water.

  1. BE STRATEGIC IN CARING FOR THOSE AFFECTED

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© Transparently Strategic by Ross Cochrane

“…He divided his household, along with the flocks and herds and camels, into two groups. He thought, “If Esau meets one group and attacks it, perhaps the other group can escape”” (Genesis 32:7-8 NLT).

Jacob is terrified but not stupid. He takes immediate action to protect his family and servants. Trusting in God but not his brother, Jacob believes for the best and prepares for the worst. He is being proactive in dividing his company into two groups given that God has not given specific instructions as to how to deal with Esau.

Notice Jacob moves to protect his family and his people rather than his flocks and herds. People are always more important than the conflict. He has learned that people in his life are not just commodities to be manipulated to suit his own ends. One group at least has hope for escape.

I’m sure Jacob is hoping that the angelic army is going to help, but he’s setting things up in case they are just there to watch.

Is all this simply scheming as some have suggested, and not trusting in God? It seems to me Jacob is acting with care, putting others first. He’s afraid, but he’s not running away from God’s plan and he is taking responsibility for the blessings with which God has entrusted to him.

Jacob needs counsel, not criticism and who can he talk to? (Find out in Part 5)

Pastor Ross

Genesis 32:5-6 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 3

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. Jacob’s short course in diplomacy is worth noting (see parts 1 and 2).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? How do you prepare when you are facing a meeting with a sense of dread?

  1. BE STRAIGHTFORWARD AND FOCUS ON THE DESIRED OUTCOME

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© Keep Your Focus Clear. Created by Ross Cochrane

Jacob sends a message to Esau,

“…and now I own cattle, donkeys, flocks of sheep and goats, and many servants, both men and women. I have sent these messengers to inform my lord of my coming, hoping that you will be FRIENDLY to me” (Genesis 32:5 NLT).

Jacob is direct. He lets Esau know that he has a small army of servants and livestock with him and that he hopes for a friendly meeting. Wise move Jacob! No sign of deception here, just a lot of wisdom.

Some say he was trying to impress Esau with his wealth, and this was only evidence that Jacob didn’t trust God to care for him, but please! He has to get in contact with Esau in some way.

He is letting Esau know that he is not there to bring harm but re-establish a friendship or at least a working relationship. He tells Esau exactly what is happening, how many people he has with him, what he can expect, no frills, no surprises, no deception. Just straight talk and a focus on the best possible scenario: friendship.

The key diplomatic responsibilities of Jacob are how best to influence and persuade Esau to re-establish a relationship with him as an ally rather than adversary. In this operation as an Ambassador of God, his intelligence, integrity, his understanding of the emotional climate, and his spiritual insight are critical.

If he succeeds, he will live to tell the story and develop a relationship with Esau grounded in trust and mutual understanding. If he doesn’t, he will have placed his family in the worst possible danger. There are no guarantees except the promises of God.

God has granted Jacob extensive privileges and immunities, but all that depends on upon applying his faith to this confrontation with Esau. The Elegancy of Diplomacy is worthless without the Integrity of Devotion to God and His purposes.

“After delivering the message, the messengers returned to Jacob and reported, “We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you—with an army of 400 men!”” (Genesis 32:6 NLT). 

So much for diplomacy. Jacob shows his humility and Esau responds with a show of strength. Esau has an army and Jacob has flocks and servants. If this is reduced to Possessions and Power then there’s little chance of resolution.

Flexing his muscles with an army of 400 men indicates fairly strongly that Esau doesn’t trust Jacob. Based on his record, I wouldn’t either. Experience tells him that he should not take chances. He doesn’t give any message to Jacob but leaves him guessing as to whether he is coming as friend or foe.

When a conflict management meeting starts to go south, what can you do? (Watch out for Part 4)

Pastor Ross

Genesis 32:3-4 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 2

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. That’s why Jacob’s short course in diplomacy is worth noting (see part 1).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? How do you prepare when you are facing a meeting with a sense of dread?

  1. DON’T PROCRASTINATE, PREPARE WELL

 

Time short1.jpg© Hourglass with watch parts. by Ross Cochrane

“Then Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother, Esau, who was living in the region of Seir in the land of Edom” (Genesis 32:3 NLT).

He sends messengers ahead. Why didn’t he go himself? Let’s face it. When death threats have been made, it makes more sense to send neutral parties. They travel to Seir in Edom; the territory of Esau, South of the Dead Sea. Good move Jacob!

Take action now. As so often is the way, help arrives when we get up and do something. Angels came as Jacob “started on his way”. Sometimes we just have to make a choice to move before God comes to meet with us more directly. Mind you, it took Jacob twenty years to get to this point!

Jacob is a wordsmith. He crafts what he wants to say so as not to inflame any residual anger in his confrontation with Esau.

  1. SPEAK WITH RESPECT AND HUMILITY

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© Respect and Humility by Ross Cochrane

“He told them, “Give this message to my master Esau: ‘Humble greetings from your servant Jacob. Until now I have been living with Uncle Laban,…” (Genesis 32:4 NLT).

Why does Jacob call Esau his master? Some say Jacob is despising his birthright which gave him rulership of the family, just as Esau had despised it by giving it away. They say Jacob is forsaking his father’s blessing by calling himself Esau’s servant, but give him a break! Isn’t it more likely that he is simply being polite? He is humbly showing respect. It doesn’t hurt to show respect. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

Jacob has been away for a long time. This is Esau’s home territory. He wants to enter on Esau’s terms, not just barge in with the arrogance of a fool and provoke hostility. He crafts his message carefully. There are no threats or judgments, just a wisely worded diplomatic message.

This is a picture of servanthood that one day his descendant Jesus would exemplify. Jesus, the servant ruler tells His disciples, Mark 9:35 (NLT) “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

The time inevitably will come in our lives when God teaches us leadership through unpretentious servanthood and diplomacy, rather than insisting on our rights. We cannot know how to lead if we do not ourselves know what it means to submit.

Jacob also teaches us about focus in the midst of conflict (Coming soon, Part 3).

Pastor Ross