Just when you think things cannot get much worse for Jacob, they do. Not unlike normal life when you think about it. Here's Jacob, having just escaped from Laban in Genesis 31, heading back to Canaan. Esau, the brother he wronged all those years ago, is there. Waiting for him.
Now, in Genesis 32 (link) we see the build up to that meeting. Jacob separates out first a gift for his brother, then sends his wives and children across the creek they have been camped beside.
And he's alone in the camp for the night. At present, Esau lives some distance away in Seir. The Biblical notation that it's the country of Edom is a little bit of an anachronism: it becomes the country of Edom in the years that Esau and his family fill, populate, and rule the area. Keep in mind that the closest this was written to the events is about 500 years afterwards. Using "country of Edom" here is no different from describing the original settlement of Manhattan as being part of New York: yes, it was New Amsterdam then, but now? New York makes sense to the current audience.
The prayer of Jacob in the middle of the chapter, starting at Genesis 32:9, is what really strikes me here. Jacob confesses his unworthiness, his dependence on God, and acknowledges God's provision, promise, and protection in his life.
That's worth holding onto in our lives.
First: Our unworthiness. If God is God, He is bigger and grander than what we understand and are. He's beyond us, better than us, and bigger than us. He does not need us, so why does He bother? Because He wants to—not because we are worthy of Him.
Second: Our dependence on God. It does not go both ways. In my home, I'm dependent on Ann for some things and she's dependent on me for others. It's a mutual dependency. (Not a co-dependency!) This is not the case for God. He is independent of us but we need Him. Very much—whatever you'd like to argue for processes, the theistic view point is that God made it all and holds it all together somehow. We need Him.
Third: God's provision. This is a subset of dependence. Can you make a garden grow? Nope. You can plant it, water it, and fertilize it but seeds germinate or don't. Photosynthesis happens…or it doesn't. God provides that. God provides, though one can debate and ponder how it all works.
Fourth: God's protection. Likewise, a subset of dependence is protection. I lock my doors, but trust God to keep me safe. That's a set of teachings from Nehemiah, but suffice it to say this: trying to protect yourself apart from God's help leads to incessant paranoia. It will never, never work.
Fifth: God's promise. This is greater than all the others. We have a promise from God. A promise that He is working in us for His glory. What else do we need? May we learn to trust His promise for all of our stability and desire.
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