Dr. Jack L. Arnold Equipping
Pastors International Genesis
Jacob Meets God
A. These two chapters show GodŐs providential dealings in the
life of a believer to bring crisis into the life, which will cause a person to
cast himself totally on God for deliverance.
B. These two chapters show us how GodŐs plans and purposes overrule
the best-laid plans of men.
II. PARTING WITH LABAN 31:1-55
A. Jacob Prepares to Leave (31:1-10)
1. Tensions grew between Laban, the sons
of Laban and Jacob, for God had greatly prospered Jacob (31:1-2). The Lord
spoke to Jacob and told him to go back to the Promised Land (31:3). NOTE. The leading of God is obvious in JacobŐs
life. He had a desire to go home (30:25). Circumstances between Jacob and Laban made it
impossible for Jacob to stay, and God gave him a direct assurance and message
that he was to move westward to the Promised Land.
2. Jacob called his two wives together and
told them his plans, for it was essential that they should agree with his
plans (31:4-10): NOTE. The Lord
must lead husband and wife alike if it is the LordŐs will for a family to move.
B. The Angel of the Lord Tells Jacob to Leave
(31:11-13). God calls Jacob back
to Bethel. This was the place God appeared first to Jacob and promised to bless
him. There Jacob made a
half-hearted vow (28:19-22) and God holds him to this vow. NOTE. Vows to God should never be made lightly. They should be
C. Rachel and Leah Side With Jacob (31:14-16). The wives of Jacob who were the
daughters of Laban agreed that Laban was a cheap swindler out for his own
selfish ends. According to the custom of mohar the fianc was bound to
pay to the girlŐs father a sum of money or the equivalent in labor for the
right to marry the girl. When a fianc thus served for a bride, the brideŐs
parents were responsible to lay up a trousseau (dowry) for her. The complaint
of Rachel and Leah is that Laban used the money for himself and they were
D. Jacob Flees From Haran (31:17-21). Jacob takes his family and possessions
and leaves Haran without notifying Laban. Rachel steals her fatherŐs images.
These were important to Laban because the custom of that day was that the son
who had possession of these household gods (images) had legal evidence that he
held the inheritance prerogatives of the first-born. Remember, Jacob was
probably adopted son and then was disinherited when he had his own sons.
Therefore, Rachel steals the images so Jacob can also some day lay claim to
LabanŐs wealth. NOTE. This
may also indicate that Rachel is still attached to some form of idolatry. Later
these gods seem to have been buried by Jacob with
other objects of idol worship by the oak in Shechem (35:4).
E. Laban Pursues Jacob (31:22-24). Laban pursues Jacob with the intent to
harm him, but God intervenes and tells Laban to do neither good nor bad to
Jacob (31:24, 29). NOTE. God sovereignly intervened in LabanŐs
life, who was an unbeliever, to keep him from hurting
Jacob. God can and does change the thinking of the unsaved. NOTE. Jacob feared Laban and this was all
part of GodŐs plan to teach Jacob not to live by his
own wits but to trust in God.
F. Laban Overtakes Jacob and Rebukes Him
(31:25-35). Laban pretends the
reason for his wrath is that he was not able to have a goodbye party for his
family (31:26-29), but the real reason is that someone had stolen his gods
(31:30). Jacob admits that one of his motives for fleeing was fear and then
tells Laban to put to death anyone who is found with his gods (31:31-32).
Rachel had the gods but hid them. Laban searched everywhere but Rachel was
sitting on them and made an excuse why she could not get up (31:35).
G. Jacob Releases His Pent-up Feelings of 20 Years Against
Laban (36-42). Jacob Ňblew his
topÓ with Laban and recounted his faithful service for 20 years. He told Laban
that had not God been with him Laban would have sent him away with nothing
(31:42). Jacob was calling Laban a shyster.
H. Jacob and Laban Make the Mizpah Covenant
(31:43-55). Laban claims that
JacobŐs wives, family and possessions belong to him. These two men held hatred
and distrust for one another and the only way to solve their differences
is to make a promise, covenant or pact. NOTE. Genesis 31:49 is not a benediction for church groups but it
actually is a truce between two crooks that each will no longer try to get the
better of the other. Each would work their own
III. PREPARATION TO FACE ESAU 32:1-32
A. Sight of Angels at Mahanaim (32:1-2). Jacob moved back towards the land and a
host of angels appears to him. This was to assure him that God who appeared to
him at Bethel and in Haran would bring him safely into the land. Jacob had a
second problem. Having just faced his Uncle Laban, he now must face once again
Esau his brother. Jacob must learn to trust in the God of hosts instead of the
arm of the flesh. NOTE. Jacob has
moved from one crisis to another.
B. Sending of Messengers (32:3-8). Jacob wavers in faith when he thinks
about meeting Esau. He still tries to lean upon his own schemes and devices to
maneuver his way out of a jam. The messenger was sent to soften Esau up so he
will accept Jacob. This distresses Jacob and he immediately assumes that Esau
is coming to fight him and he turns to his shrewd cunning. He divides his
possessions into two parts, so that in case Esau fell on one of them the other
might escape and something would be left.
C. Supplication to God (32:9-12). Jacob prays a wonderful prayer. He
remembers the promises of God, and he reminds God of them. But he really fears
what Esau will do to him. NOTE.
Jacob used his cleverness to divide his possessions and people and then
he prays to God. He called upon God to bless his own cunning schemes. His
prayer was sincere but he felt as though he had to rest on his own resources
ultimately. He leans on his plans more than his God.
D. Sending of Gifts (32:13-23). Jacob again resorts to his conniving
ways and chooses to live by his wits rather than by faith in the living God. He
sends gifts to Esau (32:20) with idea of appeasing him so he will be accepted.
EsauŐs mind will be changed but not by JacobŐs gifts but by JacobŐs God. Just
in case his plan does not work he sends his family over the Jabbok River and is
left alone. Jacob is always making plans instead of trusting in God.
E. Struggle With God at Peniel (32:24-32)
1. Jacob was alone for he needed time for
meditation. Perhaps he realized the great crisis he was in and needed time to
think. He knew that in the morning he would have to face a showdown with Esau
who had threatened his life. Perhaps he meditated on those days when he
deceived Esau and lied to Isaac. Jacob was concerned about meeting Jacob but
what he really needed was to meet God, for he could never meet his brother if
he was not right with God.
2. While in quiet, a man wrestled with him
until the breaking of the day. The man was probably the Angel of Jehovah (the
pre-incarnate Christ) who is called God (32:30). God wrestled with Jacob and it
was not Jacob who wrestled with God. It was not that Jacob wrestled with God in
prayer but that God wrestled with Jacob to break down JacobŐs strong will and
to bring him to an end of himself so that he would not trust in the arm of the
flesh. Jacob had to learn that God would deliver and he did not have to trust
his own cleverness and resources.
3. Jacob thought he was fighting for his
physical life but he was fighting about his spiritual life (32:25). He was
strong and God touched his thigh and put it out of joint, so as to make him
powerless. God was breaking Jacob and he fought physically and spiritually to
the last. NOTE. God had been in
the process of breaking Jacob for years but Jacob resisted. All believers are
at times like Jacob. We refuse to trust God, to put Him first, and then God has
to get rough and break us, God did not leave Jacob alone and he will not leave
any true believer alone. The Lord could have broken Jacob earlier in the night
but He wanted him to voluntarily yield to the Lord.
4. The Lord says, ŇLet me go,Ó for now
Jacob has been broken and will not let go of the Lord until he has been blessed
by God (32:26). NOTE. God had
brought Jacob to the place where he couldnŐt cope with life without God. Jacob
had a genuine experience with God and realized that God is the only source of
5. God changed JacobŐs name from ŇheelerÓ
or ŇsupplanterÓ or ŇusurperÓ to ŇIsraelÓ which means Ňa prince with God.Ó
(32:27-29). A new experience with God brought Jacob a new name. Jacob would now
have power with God and with men (32:28).
NOTE. God won this
wrestling match because He was the challenger. Jacob had to be broken before
God could use him.
` 6. This Ňface to faceÓ experience with God
causes Jacob to name this place Peniel or Ňthe face of God.Ó NOTE. The seeing of God does not contradict
John 1:18 which says no man has seen God at any time. Certainly no man has seen
God in His essence as spirit, but men have seen God in the sense of certain
manifest glory. However, to say that every believer needs this same kind of
experience creates an attitude of expectancy rather than dependency, and
results in frustration and looking for experiences. However God does give
crisis experiences to some believers.
was permanently marked by a limp. Whenever men saw Jacob they knew that he had been touched by God. NOTE: There are
some groups of Christians who feel that after conversion a person must have a
crisis experience in order to have real spiritual satisfaction, and they use
Jacob as an example. Jacob had a
crisis experience that changed his life, but not all believers need this kind
of experience. After Peniel, Jacob
is a man of God who came to the place where he let God lead him. Certainly he came to the place where he
gave God the glory. However, to
say that every believer needs this same kind of experience,
creates an attitude of expectancy rather than dependency, and results in
frustration and looking for experiences.
However, God does give crisis experiences to some believers.