Posts Tagged ‘Diplomacy’

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 32:7-8 – 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

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© Conflicted by Ross and Julie Cochrane

Genesis 32:1-2 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 1

Twenty years ago, he left the country as a fugitive, with a death sentence on his head. Now, if he is to return, he will either be public enemy number one or one of the best diplomats of his time.

Jacob fled from Esau, his brother, trying to escape from his past. Then from Laban, his uncle, who was trying to control his future. He is most disturbed, however, by what is happening in the present. This journey back to his homeland after twenty years will either be a pathway of diplomacy or a precipice of disaster!

I have entered meetings so charged with negative emotions that it made me want to run the other way. Jacob has good reason to want to run.

The situation was quite clear when Jacob left the country. Genesis 27:41 (NLT) says, “From that time on, Esau HATED Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I WILL KILL MY BROTHER, JACOB.” 

How should he respond to Esau’s antagonism, his intimidating tactics? How can he convey, in the most persuasive way possible, that he intends no further harm or trickery to his brother and do this without compromising God’s purposes for his life?

That’s why Jacob’s short course in diplomacy is worth noting. Over a twenty year period, he has earned his diplomatic qualifications the hard way. Now he is a member of that exclusive and prestigious profession of pinstriped men and women who glide their way across the earth in a dance of diplomacy with all the finesse and etiquette that is demanded when walking on eggshells. The only difference is that he wants to dance with diplomatic integrity rather than deceit. No stew pots or goats skin this time.

What can he teach us when we dread facing situations in life which threaten our future?

  1. ADMIT THAT YOU MAY NEED HELP

Genesis 32:1-2 says “As Jacob started on his way again, angels of God came to meet him. When Jacob saw them, he exclaimed, “This is God’s camp!” So he named the place Mahanaim.”  

OK, so it won’t always be angels but, somewhere along the way to the purposes of God it seems we always have to confront our past, and we need all the help we can get to move forward.

Jacob has been no angel, but Angels keep turning up at key points in Jacob’s life. They were there at Bethel when God gave Jacob an unbelievable promise. And they will be at Bethel when God fulfils His promise.

Why are they here? Do these angels encourage him to make face to face contact with Esau rather than try deceptive means to get back into the country? We are not told.

Perhaps this angelic diplomatic attaché is here to witness what Jacob is going to do, give him confidence that God is here, and show him he is doing the right thing. He was obviously moved by this sighting.

Then again, they may be there to get a good seat for the fight, nice and early.

Jacob names the place, “Mahanaim” which means “two camps”. Military camps. Are these angelic figures involved in the Spiritual warfare of this occasion as they watch God and man in contest? Are they there to observe just how God works out his purposes? Are they there to protect Jacob? I have all these questions, but we are not told! God leaves out the details so many times in the Bible. But figure it out…

This is a stress-plus time for Jacob. From the moment Jacob obeys God by leaving Laban behind, he is more open to seeing what is happening spiritually on every level. He is attuned to the fact that something significant is about to happen. I guess seeing “angels of God” will do that every time.

There have been situations in my life which have brought me to the realisation that I need God’s help. Often it has meant starting out with what I already know and with what I already have in my hand, and only then do I discover the spiritual help at hand to cover that which I don’t know.

One thing I do know is that “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31, NLT).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? How do you prepare for a coming confrontation? (Watch for Part 2).

Pastor Ross