[Genesis 32 & 33]
As twin brothers, Jacob and Esau were of the same blood, but bad blood developed between them. When Jacob outdid himself and stole the blessing their father meant for Esau, Esau was determined to kill Jacob [Gen 27:41]. But Jacob stole even that pleasure from Esau by fleeing to Haran, some 800 kilometres away.
There, Jacob acquired two wives, concubines, many children, and great flocks and herds of livestock. But eventually, Jacob had to flee from his father-in-law who was even more crafty than him! With the father-in-law now a father-in-war in hot pursuit, where could Jacob go but home to Canaan? But when vengeful Esau heard Jacob was coming back, he rounded up 400 men and marched over 150 kilometres to intercept Jacob. What kind of a welcoming committee is an all-men posse of 401 men? So did Esau come to kiss, or to kill, Jacob? Well, Jacob was “in great fear and distress” [Gen 32:7], so what does that tell us?
crafty Jacob quickly thought of a plan.
He sent a series of mixed droves of sheep, goats, camels,
cattle and donkeys ahead of him, as gifts to Esau.
Each drove was some distance behind the next.
Each drove represented considerable wealth for Esau.
you are Esau receiving gift after gift after gift of great wealth.
Wow. Was that why
Esau spared Jacob’s life? Actually,
no. For Esau rejected all
the gifts! How do we know
this? The Bible tells us
so. Gen 33:1 says:
“Jacob looked up and there was Esau, with his 400 men”.
If Esau had accepted the droves, they would have become his
droves. Wouldn’t he have
assigned some of his men to take control of his droves?
Yet, all 400 men were still with Esau, because he did not
consider the droves to be his? Moreover,
Esau accepted the gifts only after much insistence by Jacob [Gen
how cunning Jacob was! If
Esau had started to kill the men in the first drove, those in the
droves behind would have either gone into battle [and reduced the size
of Esau’s force] or retreated backwards, [thereby giving Jacob
advance warning of Esau’s real intentions].
But if Esau had accepted the gifts, then he would have assigned
men to take over each flock, and this would have reduced the force
Esau could bring up with him to the meeting with Jacob.
The odds against Jacob would have been reduced.
But Esau had, finally, outfoxed the crafty Jacob.
He had all 400 men with him.
now, without any advance warning from his men ahead, Jacob looked up
and saw Esau and all of his 400 men bearing down on him.
Not a single man had been assigned to guard the droves.
But perhaps Esau had come in love of Jacob?
Did Jacob see love in the way Esau was approaching, or
impending disaster? What
does his actions tell us?
went ahead, somewhat timidly, followed by his concubines and their
children, then his less-loved wife Leah and her children, and finally
his beloved Rachel and her son Joseph. Why this arrangement, if Esau
did not look like he was going to devour all of them?
Jacob was indeed terrified, and remained scared even after Esau
embraced him. Why else
would Jacob call his twin [his equal] “my lord” at least five
times [Gen33:8-15] and equate his face with the face of God?
we all know that Esau did not kill Jacob after all.
As it was not because of Jacob’s gifts, then was it because
Jacob “bowed down to the ground seven times” before Esau?
Or was there another reason why Esau spared Jacob?
answer is in Gen 32:22-31. The
night before Esau arrived, what happened to Jacob?
Didn’t he have a wrestling match with God, in which God
“touched the socket of Jacob’s hip, so that the hip was
wrenched” [32:25]? As
the sun rose, Jacob “was limping because of his hip” [32:31], and
that was how Esau saw Jacob [33:1].
Esau had come to kill Jacob, but how could Esau kill a
defenceless cripple? What
kind of a heroic act would it be for Esau to kill a pitiful cripple in
front of his 400 men? When
Jacob painfully bowed down to the ground seven times before him, could
Esau’s bitter heart prevent all the bitterness from draining out as
it was replaced by pity?
it wonderfully wise and merciful of God to come from Heaven, fight
with Jacob and cripple him, in order to save his life?
Say, is God similarly saving you in some way through the little
troubles or ailments presently afflicting you?
were privileged to have Rev. W.A. van Leen as our chapel speaker on 21
May. He shared on the
theme "God Weeps Too!" The
year 2003 has not got off to a good start for many people.
Disaster and tragedy marked the beginning of the year for many
people both here in
biblical message is one of God totally identifying with suffering
humanity through the incarnation.
Taking part in human life and experience makes God
assures the weary and burdened that He will share the load: "Come
to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and
humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt.
shortest verse in the Bible is Jn. 11:35: "Jesus wept."
When the Lord arrived at the home of His friend Lazarus, He
found Mary and Martha weeping over their brother who had died some
days before. Jesus
identified with them in their grief and burst into sobbing.
He wept. Towards
the closing of His ministry, He went to
van Leen quotes from a song, "God Weeps Too," written
by a Californian singer and songwriter, Eli.
He sings of the suffering and pain of: the illiterate man
struggling to make ends meet; the widow in her loneliness; the
survivors of man's inhumanity to man; or our questioning of God when
bad things happen, etc… and then share his insight:
"And God weeps too, God weeps too
Though we question
Him for all that we go through
But still it helps
And my pain it does
When I think that
God weeps too, God
spite of the disasters and tragedies of this, still young, year of
2003 there is hope and encouragement and help to each other whenever,
and wherever, possible and God shares the burden with us.
He feels our pain and weeps.
speakers for the next two weeks are: Mr Edwin Tay (4 June) and Pastor
Song Young Hak (11 June).
A Blessed Birthday to ...
James Goon 26/5
Peter Lim Hong Sing 26/5
Danny Tan 27/5
Mrs Joyce Moh 29/5
Celeste Yee 29/5
Yoong Yuen Soo 29/5
Richard Chia 31/5
Gesulgon Jireh-May 1/6