Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin
Dispensation of Promise.
A human battle that was much more incredible then David and Goliath.
Before we get ready to conclude the Fourth Dispensation in our study of the Doctrine of Dispensations, which deals with what is known as the Dispensation of Promise, we need to wrap up this dispensation, or period of time, by understanding the life of Jacob as he relates to the title that our Lord claimed to be when He said “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” And we have begun to conclude Jacob’s part in the is dispensation by noting the three final failures of Jacob.
1. The first failure was in his manner of meeting Esau, verses 1-11, which we noted Sunday morning.
Gen 33:1-8, Then Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. And he put the maids and their children in front, and Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. But he himself passed on ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. And he [Esau] lifted his eyes and saw the women and the children, and said, “Who are these with you?” So he [Jacob] said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the maids [concubines] came near with their children, and they bowed down. And Leah likewise came near with her children, and they bowed down; and afterward Joseph came near with Rachel, and they bowed down. [Notice that the trial and the tribulation turned out to be much less than anticipated] And he [Esau] said, “What do you mean by all this company which I have met?” And he said, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.”
Esau desired to know the meaning of those flocks of cattle which had been sent on to him earlier as a present. And Jacob’s answer is quite straightforward, but it shows where Jacob was placing his confidence in. He was de¬pending on his gifts and his presents to Esau rather than upon God, to try over his brother Esau.
So in Gen 33:9, But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother; let what you have be your own.”
Jacob had devoted so much of his time and energy to the problem of how he could satisfy his brother Esau whose anger he lived in fear of and he had gone to much expense and trouble to do so! And if he could speak to us today from headquarters in Heaven, he would tell us that his thoughts and schemes and plans accomplished absolutely nothing. It was all vanity and needless energy as this passage shows. He had wasted his time in unprofitable labor!
Psa 127:1, Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
Solomon said in Ecc 2:11,Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.
Gen 33:10, And Jacob said, “No, please, if now I have found favor in your sight, then take my present from my hand, for I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably.”
The reason why Jacob is begging Esau to take AND RECEIVE the gift is because of a custom in the ancient world at the time in which they lived! The acceptance of the gift of the person giving it was considered to be the absolute proof that all was well.
So in Gen 33:11, Jacob says, “Please take my gift which has been brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have plenty.” Thus he urged him and he took it.
2. The second failure will be in the deceit to which Jacob resorted to, to free himself from Esau’s company, when Esau offered him the protection of his armed men, 12-16.
Gen 33:12-14, Then Esau said, “Let us take our journey and go, and I will go before you.” But Jacob said to Esau, “My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds which are nursing are a care to me. And if they are driven hard one day, all the flocks will die. “Please let my lord pass on before his servant; and I will proceed at my leisure, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.”
It’s incredible that Jacob practiced a deception on his generous brother in order to get rid of him by promising what he never meant to fulfill which was to visit him at Seir. Jacob, at once, again begins to devise excuses as to why they should journey separately. Jacob really never planned to go to Seir; for as soon as he had seen the rear of Esau’s retiring forces, he journeyed in the contrary direction to Succoth. All such deceitfulness and lying were utterly unworthy of the man who had seen God’s angels face to face and then God Himself.
Gen 33:15, And Esau said, “Please 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.”
Esau suggested that some of his own army should stay behind with Jacob to afford protection for Jacob and his herds while passing, through a wild and dangerous country. But Jacob seems to have suspected some un¬friendly design which was behind Esau’s offer, and so he declined it! Again here we see Jacob thinking evil. Jacob politely refuses to travel with Esau, but he does say that he will follow at a slower pace behind him until he meets him in Seir.
So Esau sets out for his homeland to the south, and we hear of him no more. But Jacob, contrary to his word, moves westward toward the Jordan Valley and stops at Succoth and never goes to Seir.
Gen 33:16, So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir.
Note that Esau kindly accepted the presents of Jacob to make Jacob feel better about his wronging
Esau. And I have said before, sometimes the unbeliever has a lot more integrity then the believer.
Secondly, Esau kindly received the wives and children of Jacob.
Thirdly, Esau goes on the way before Jacob to make the way clear.
Fourth, Esau acts as his brother’s guide and vanguard. A vanguard is someone who takes the leading position in an army for the purpose of protecting those who are behind!
Fifth, Esau shows his forgiveness by deeds as well as by words.
Six, Esau is pictured in this chapter as a noble and with a chivalrous character. He for¬gives and forgets his brother’s past wrongdoings.
Jacob, however, is still mistrustful of the one whom he had betrayed and he gives Esau the slip by going toward Canaan instead of following him to Seir as he had promised. And yet again, for whatever reason, the Lord says “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Here is another passage where an unbelievers has more character and integrity then a believer!
Gen 33:17, And Jacob journeyed to Succoth; and built for himself a house, and made booths for his livestock, therefore the place is named Succoth.
This sequel is indeed a sad one concerning Jacob. Not only was Jacob distrustful of his brother but he lied unto him. Notice what Jacob said in verse 14, Gen 33:14, “Please let my lord pass on before his servant; and I will proceed at my leisure, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.”
But after Esau had taken his departure we read in: Gen 33:17, And Jacob journeyed to Succoth; and built for himself a house, and made booths for his livestock, therefore the place is named Succoth.
Succoth was a backward step, spiritually as well as geographically. He had been called to go to Bethel but instead he went and settled in Succoth which involved the building of cattle sheds and a house and settling down in an ungodly atmosphere. And this brings up the third failure of Jacob, settling at Shechem. God did not say to “Go to Shechem; but, “I am the God of Bethel.”
Gen 31:13, the Lord said to Jacob, ‘I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.’”
Bethel, rather than Shechem, was his appointed goal. But unfortunately, like Jacob, we are all too ready to fall short of God’s plan for our elevation and own plans. And so Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem. And he did worse there; he pitched his tent before the city-as Lot did, when he pitched his tent before Sodom.
Are how many Christians are doing the same things today? They live on the edge of the world (cosmic system), just on the borderland; far enough away to justify a religious profession, yet near enough to run into it for pleasure.
And so we read. Gen 33:18-19, Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan aram, and camped before the city. And he bought the piece of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money.
Not content with pitching his tent before the city, he even bought land there, “where he had pitched his tent.” Note, Shechem was in the land of Canaan which God promised to Jacob! However, God wanted to go to Bethel in the promise land not Shechem. However, in verse 19, Jacob bought that which God had promised to give to him and to his seed. The true spirit of faith would have waited quietly, until God had made good His repeated promise.
Then, notice what he did in Gen 33:20, Then he erected there an altar, and called it El Elohe Israel. Jacob sought to relieve his conscience by building the altar, and dedicating it to the God of Israel.
In fact, we know this was a wrong thing to do because the very next word Jacob received from the Lord, concerned the “altar” and insinuated that God was not pleased with the altar he had erected in Succoth.
Gen 35:1, Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”
By the way, what happened in Succoth, the wrong geographical location for his life?
In Gen 34:1, his daughter got involved with the world.
In Gen 34:2, she was raped.
For we read in Gen 34:1-2, Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force.
In Gen 34:7, his sons found out and vowed revenge.
Gen 34:7, Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.
Gen 34:13, his sons use deceit on the people of Shechem.
Gen 34:13, But Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor, with deceit, and spoke to them, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.
Gen 34:25-27, his sons killed every male and committed murder. Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city unawares. And they killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went forth. Jacob’s sons came upon the slain and
looted the city, because they had defiled their sister.
In GEN 34:28, they stole their flocks and their herds and their donkeys, and that which was in the city and that which was in the field;
In GEN 34:29, they captured and looted all their wealth and all their little ones and their wives and all that was in the houses.
Therefore in Gen 34:30-31, Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me, by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I shall be destroyed, I and my household.” But they said, “Should he treat our sister as a harlot?”
As you can see, Jacob is right back into fear and worry and his sons are turning out just like him!
And that’s why we read in Gen 35:1, Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”
And notice what else Jacob had to tell his children in Gen 35:2, So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your garments;
So as you can see, being in the wrong geographical location was simply not worth it for Jacob.