Dispensation of Promise. Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed.

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Grace Bible Church
Pastor Teacher
Robert R. McLaughlin
Dispensation of Promise.
Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed.
090416

Gen 32:7 says, Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed.

The phrase “greatly afraid” is the adverb meodh plus the Qal imperfect of the verb jare which means that he kept on being extremely frightened and filled with stress. His mind is going wild as he thinks about all the things that Esau might to do to him! And remember, he has just witnessed a miraculous event! And then the verb for distressed is the Qal imperfect of the Hebrew verb jatsar which means to be tortured mentally, to be anxious and in mental pain.

Fear actually causes two categories of punishment. First, you punish yourself through self-induced misery. Then when fear gets into arrogance, divine punishment follows. So you can be punished three ways by fear: by yourself, by your peers, and by God.

Pro 29:25, The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.

Spiritual maturity is characterized by courage or lack of fear.

Psa 3:6, I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me round about.

Psa 56:3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee.

Psa 56:11 In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?

This is true even when surrounded in battle.

So in Gen 32:7, Then Jacob was extremely frightened and filled with mental anguish; [and then notice what he does in this state of mind] and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies;

Prin - Jacob naturally jumped to the conclusion that Esau still intended to make good his threat to kill him, and he has for­gotten the encouragement he had received by the sight of the angels at Mahanaim. He knew his own small body of servants could not cope with four hundred armed men led by Esau. And he had so much fear in his heart as he remembered Esau’s threats of years before and im­agined that his brother was making plans to get his revenge. And there are two key words right there, remembering and imagining!

Prin - The courage and the confidence generated by the vision of angels is dissipated. It has depleted and wasted away! The exaltation of faith gives way to the agony of despair as soon as the stern reality of Esau’s coming with 400 men is encountered. Gen 32:7, Then Jacob was extremely frightened and filled with mental anguish; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies;

And then notice what he said with his human viewpoint rationalization.

Gen 32:8, for he said, “If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the company which is left will escape.”

The news so terrified Jacob and overwhelmed him with anguish that he is now driven to human solutions and human plans. Some commentators try to say that he is using his wisdom here. However, you don’t operate in wisdom when you are extremely frightened and filled with fear! Furthermore, Esau has no intentions whatsoever of seeking revenge, it is merely the imagination of Jacob’s evil heart!

So again, in Gen 32:7, Then Jacob was extremely frightened and filled with mental anguish; [and then notice what he does in this state of mind] and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies;

And then notice what he said with his human viewpoint rationalization.

Gen 32:8, for he said, “If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the company which is left will escape.”

The news so terrified Jacob and overwhelmed him with anguish that he is now driven to human solutions and human plans! And Esau has no intentions whatsoever of seeking revenge, it is merely the imagination of Jacob’s evil heart. He was sure Esau intended to destroy him. So he divided the people and his flocks into two “camps.” And why is that significant? Because He forgot that Mahanaim was God’s camp and his. Now he was trusting in two camps of his own hoping that one of them would escape Esau’s wrath.

Now, here’s an interesting thing and it describes the instability of the reversionistic believer. Having made his plans with his own wisdom, he now asks God to bless him and save him from his brother Esau.

Look at Gen 32:9-13, And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who didst say to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,’ I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to Thy servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, 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, the mothers with the children. For Thou didst say, ‘I will surely prosper you, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’” So he spent the night there. Then he selected from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau:

First he says Lord deliver me then he gets right back up from his prayer and falls back on human solutions! Here it is again; double-mindedness - the double minded believer who is unstable in all his ways. Look at Jam 1:5-8, But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double‑minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Double-minded people cannot be trusted, as the saying goes they speak with double-tongue!

Jam 4:8, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double‑minded.

Psa 12:2, They speak falsehood to one another; With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.

This is why the individual who was in the Jewish chain gang, chained up with other slaves said in Psa 119:113, I hate those who are double‑minded, But I love Thy law. Also when it comes to spiritual authority deacons are warned in 1Ti 3:8, Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double‑tongued,

So back in Gen 32, our double-minded spiritual champion is now seeking God in prayer! Gen 32:10, I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to Thy servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. This is the beginning however of a little change in Jacob’s life. This is the first time we have ever heard him say, “I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and faithfulness” that the Lord has shown him. Therefore, in Gen 32:11-12, “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, the mothers with the children. For Thou didst say, ‘I will surely prosper you, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”

Now, these verses record Jacob’s prayer under what he had full reason to believe were desperate and, humanly speaking, almost hopeless circum­stances. In many respects, it is a fine pattern of prayer for believers under similar circumstances when, after following the Lord’s guidance, they are still confronted with what seem to be insurmountable problems.

Gen 32:13-20, So he spent the night there. [Now notice what he does next] Then he selected from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milking camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on before me, and put a space between droves.” And he commanded the one in front, saying, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, saying, ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and to whom do these animals in front of you belong?’ then you shall say, ‘These belong to your servant Jacob; it is a present sent to my lord Esau. And behold, he also is behind us.’” Then he commanded also the second and the third, and all those who followed the droves, saying, “After this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him; and you shall say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob also is behind us.’ “For he said,” I will appease him with the present that goes before me. Then afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.”

Now this message which Jacob sent to Esau was utterly beneath the dignity of a child of God; Such sycophantic flattering phrases as “my lord Esau” and “thy servant Jacob” reveal his cowardice! He is operating as a coward! He is afraid of what man can do to him!

Remember Heb 13:5-6, Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?”

Instead these phrases and his plans reveal what a coward he is! Courage is the ability to think under pressure. Cowardice is the dominance of emotion under pressure. The coward cannot think under pressure, while the man of courage can. And so he goes to the Lord in prayer asking for help and guidance then he gets right back into human viewpoint solutions. And I’m afraid that we too are often in the same position. Many of us take our problems and needs to the Lord in prayer. We ask Him for help and then we sit back and come up with human viewpoint solutions! We get through praying and we get right back up and put the burden right back on our back and try to solve the problem ourselves! And the real problem is that we don’t really believe Him! We don’t really trust Him as we should!

Gen 32:17, And he commanded the one in front, saying, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, saying, ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and to whom do these animals in front of you belong?’

It was the very nature of him to drive bargains, make deals, try to get ahead. Remember what his name Jacob means, heel-catcher, supplanter, one who overthrows by force or treachery or deception, or layer of snares.

So in Gen 32:18 then you shall say, ‘These belong to your servant Jacob; it is a present sent to my lord Esau. And behold, he also is behind us.’” Then he commanded also the second and the third, and all those who followed the droves, saying, “After this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him; and you shall say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob also is behind us.’ “For he said,” I will appease him with the present that goes before me. Then afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.”

Instead of trusting in the Lord to work in him a spirit of reconciliation, he undertook himself to propitiate or satisfy Esau. And in doing so he ended up compromising! And also notice in verse 20, that after all his scheming and devising he could only say “perhaps he will accept me.” ­And this is true when we put forward all of our fleshly efforts, maybe they might work! Now, notice the inconsistency of Jacob.

In verses 3-8, he devised a plan to try and appease Esau. He sent lavish presents to Esau to try and secure his good will. In verse 9-12, he goes to God and prayer and asks for the Lord to help him. Then in verses 13-20, he develops another plan and totally ignores his prayer toward God. He arranged his families, his pos­sessions, and his fighting men to the best possible advantage, and prepared to put up a good fight if it became necessary!

Gen 32:21, So the present passed on before him, while he himself spent that night in the camp.

So he prays that God would help and then he goes right out to try and help himself with human power. It was a good prayer, a noble prayer, but he didn’t really believe that God would answer! And the issue is, do you? Do you believe Heb 4:16, “Let us be approaching the throne of grace with confidence that we may receive mercy and acquire grace with reference to seasonable help.”

Jer 33:3, “Call upon Me and I will show you great and might things which you have not discovered.”

Psa 50:15, And call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”

Luk 11:9-10, “And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.”

Mat 21:22, “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.”

Joh 14:13-14, “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Joh 15:7 “Ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you.”

Phi 4:6‑7, “Stop worrying about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be known to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall garrison your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

You see, with the prayer said, instead of trusting God, Jacob again tried to manipulate the situation himself. He sets aside hundreds of cattle as an opening present designed to soften up his brother Esau. And he figures that will give him time so that if the present doesn’t soften Esau up then Esau will be so busy robbing his things that Jacob will be able to escape. What I’m saying is that Jacob is still a smart operator. The point is that while Jacob is a believer and back in the will of God, he is still reversionistic in his thinking. Any solution you have to your problems apart from doctrine is a manifestation of both arrogance and irrationality.

Divine solutions are the only solutions and human solutions are no solutions. Human solutions may work temporarily but they will not solve the problem permanently! Fear sees the problem; a personal sense of destiny sees the solution. Since problem solving is a major function of the spiritual life of the Church, all divine solutions are related to the problem solving devices in your soul. You were designed to be spiritually independent of human solutions in life.

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