GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life for week ending 09/29/02.
What Jacob anticipated never happened, and what fear, worry and anxiety produce. Gen 33-34.
Genesis 33:1-8 But he himself [Jacob] passed on ahead of them [his family] 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. And he 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."
The plain implication of Esau's words shows the futility and meaninglessness of Jacob's deceitfulness and scheming. He had wasted his life like so many believers who forget the principle of PSA 127:1-2, "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"; and 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." How much better it would have been had Jacob just been "still" and trusted in the Lord to act on his behalf.
GEN 33:10-11 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. 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.
In the ancient world, if one's present was received by someone in authority, you could rely upon his friendship. If it was declined, you had everything to fear. Therefore, Jacob was persistent in pressing Esau to accept his gift.
What a change we have seen in Jacob, from clinging to the divine Wrestler to prostrating himself before Esau. It is one thing to be privileged with a special visitation or manifestation of God, but it is quite another to live in its power. Jacob's experience reminds us of the Lord's closest disciples who were with Him on the Mountain of Transfiguration in Mat 17. They were deeply impressed with what they saw and heard.
MAT 17:1-5 And six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!"
Observe what follows. The next day a man brought his "lunatic" son to the disciples, but they could not cure him.
MAT 17:14-20 And when they came to the multitude, a man came up to Him, falling on his knees before Him, and saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic, and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him." And Jesus answered and said, "O unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me." And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you."
Unless your faith is active and is put to use, you can not live in divine power.
In GEN 33:12, "Then Esau said, 'Let us take our journey and go, and I will go before you.'" Notice all the unnecessary fears and the late-night worrying that Jacob had done. How useless worrying, fear, and anxiety are as we conjure up things to alarm us. Have you not ever looked forward with great anxiety to something that was coming, and then when it came, found out that all your anxiety had been pointless? We all have the ability to make ourselves miserable if we look into the future and antici-pate the worst. This is the sin of worry, as seen in MAR 4:19; LUK 8:14, 10:41; MAT 13:22, "This is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." It is not important to calculate far ahead into the future; if God's people only had more faith in the promises of God and in His character and nature, they would stop worrying about so many things. All of us have at times imagined dangers that looked so intimidating and duties that seemed so strenuous, and became so entangled with these things that we could not see our way through. Then these things have proved to be nothing more than threats designed to frighten us. Once we face them, all their difficulty vanishes, leaving us to think how foolish we have been for having allowed mere shadows to disturb our rest.
GEN 33:13-14 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 is incredible that Jacob practiced this deception on his generous brother to get rid of him, promising what he never meant to fulfill, which was to visit him at Seir. Jacob at once begins to devise excuses for traveling separately.
Jacob's second failure in Gen 33 was the deceitfulness to which he resorted to free himself from Esau's company. Do not think for a moment that Jacob really meant to go to Seir, for as soon as he had seen the rear of Esau's retiring forces, he headed in the opposite direction to Succoth. All such lies were utterly unworthy of the man who had seen God's angels face to face and even the Lord Himself. Esau replies in 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 while passing through a wild and dangerous country. However, Jacob seems to still suspect some hostile intent behind Esau's offer, so he declines it. Jacob politely refuses to travel with Esau, but he does say that he will follow at a slower pace until he meets him in Seir. Esau sets out for his homeland to the south, GEN 33:16, and we hear of him no more. Jacob, contrary to his word, journeys westward toward the Jordan Valley and stops at Succoth.
Note that Esau kindly accepted the presents of Jacob to make Jacob feel better about his wrongdoing against Esau. Secondly, Esau kindly received the wives and children of Jacob. Thirdly, he goes on the way before Jacob to make the way clear for him. He acts as his brother's guide and vanguard and shows his forgiveness by deeds as well as by words. Esau is actually depicted in this chapter as a noble character. He for-gives and forgets his brother's past.
Jacob, however, is still mistrustful of the one whom he had betrayed, and he gives Esau the slip by traveling toward Canaan instead of following him as he had promised. Here is a passage where an unbeliever has more character and integrity then a believer. 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." This sequel is indeed a sad one concerning Jacob.
Succoth was a backward step, spiritually as well as geographically. He had been called to go to Bethel but instead he settled in Succoth in an ungodly atmosphere. This is the third failure of Jacob in this chapter-settling at Shechem. God never said to go to Shechem; He had said, "I am the God of Bethel." Bethel was his appointed goal. Unfortunately, like Jacob, we are all too ready to fall short of God's plan and settle for our human plans. And so Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, and he regressed even more there; he pitched his tent before the city as Lot had pitched his tent before Sodom. How many Christians today are living on the edge of the world, just far enough away to justify a religious profession, yet near enough to run to it for pleasure!
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.
He even bought land there in Shechem. Shechem was in the land of Canaan which God promised to Jacob, but it was not the goal of God's plan. Jacob is buying what God had promised to give to him. The true spirit of faith would have waited quietly, until God had made good His repeated promise. Then 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. However, the very next word Jacob receives from the Lord indicates He is not pleased with the altar. The Lord then repeats His command 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.'"
Let us look at a summary of what happened in Succoth, which was the wrong geographical location for Jacob's life.
· In GEN 34:1, his daughter got involved with the world.
· In GEN 34:2, she was raped.
· In GEN 34:7, his sons found out and vowed revenge.
· In GEN 34:13, they deceived the men of Shechem to weaken them.
· In GEN 34:25, they murdered every male in the city.
· In GEN 34:27, they came upon the slain and looted the city.
· In GEN 34:28, they stole the flocks and all that was in the city and fields.
· In GEN 34:29, they captured and looted all their wealth and took everything from their wives and children.
Therefore in GEN 34:30, "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?'" Jacob has gone right back to his fear, and his sons are turning out just like him.
GEN 35:1-2 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." 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."
As you can see, staying in the wrong geographical location was simply not worth it for Jacob.
Let us quickly summarize what has taken place since Jacob's encounter with Esau.
· In GEN 35:1-3, God tells Jacob to go to Bethel, and he does.
· In GEN 35:5, as they journeyed, there was a great terror in the cities by which they traveled, and no one pursued them. God was protecting Jacob without Jacob scheming and planning on how to survive.
· In GEN 35:7, Jacob builds an altar in Bethel and begins to worship God in the right way and in the right place. Perhaps he learned some things from being in the wrong geographical location.
· In GEN 35:9, God appears to Jacob and reminds him of his new name Israel and of the Abrahamic Covenant.
· In GEN 35:16-19, Rachel dies while giving birth to Benjamin. Jacob will say just before his death that this was one of the most sorrowful moments of his life.
· In GEN 35:28-29, Jacob's father Isaac dies, and Jacob and Esau bury him.
· In GEN 37:3, Israel's favorite son was Joseph; he openly loved him more than all his other sons.
· In GEN 37:4, all his other sons hated Joseph out of jealousy for their father's love. This reveals Jacob's serious failures as a father, loving one child so much more than the others that they could all see it and resented it.
· In GEN 37:27, they threw their brother Joseph into a pit and sold him into slavery.
· In GEN 37:32, they all deceived Jacob and told him that that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal (like father, like sons).
· In GEN 42:1, there was a famine in the land so Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain.
· In GEN 45:9, God had blessed Joseph, and he was in command of all Egypt under the Pharaoh, and he revealed himself to his brothers and sent for his father to come to Egypt.
· In GEN 46:2-4, God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and reaffirmed the Abrahamic covenant and told him to travel to Egypt.
GEN 47:5-8 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know any capable men among them, then put them in charge of my livestock." Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Jacob, "How many years have you lived?"
Jacob's reply gives us a good idea as to what type of life that he led.
GEN 47:9-10 So Jacob said to Pharaoh, "The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning." And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from his presence.
We now pick up the life of Jacob in GEN 47:27. We are now down to the sunset years of Jacob's life. Several observations should be noted about the latter years of life on this earth. The older we get in this life, we either get better or worse. No one ever remains the same. What you were ten years ago you are not today. Time lived in our own plans can only make us worse, but time lived in God's power and God's plan will make us great.