Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jacob continued...
The life of Jacob teaches us that no one can outrun their sin. Eventually, your sin will catch up with you, and the consequences thereof will be as an impenetrable barrier. Sin must be dealt with in our lives. Sin must be repented of, that it might be forgiven and that we might walk in assurance of faith.
It had been twenty years, and the sin of Jacob still weighed heavily upon him. Twenty years had gone by, and still Jacob feared the wrath of his brother Esau for what he had done, because he had never repented of his deed to his brother. He had never owned up to what he had done, he had just fled.
Numbers 32:23, “But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.”
This is one of those universal truths which many people have a hard time grasping. No matter how well you hide your sin from your spouse, from your family, from your friends, it will, inevitably, invariably, eventually find you out. From famous preachers, to prominent pastors, to laymen, if they have chosen the way of sin, and rather than repent of it they simply hide it, eventually it boils over, floats to the surface, and thoroughly shames them.
Because Jacob never dealt with the deception he perpetrated on his father and brother, because he never confronted the issue but simply ran from it, twenty years later it was still a burden, and something he finally had to deal with.
Sin festers. It is not a docile thing that bears no consequence or burden. It grows and consumes and metastasizes, because by its very nature it is a destructive force. Sin destroys. Sin consumes. Sin evolves, drawing its victims deeper and deeper into the darkness and mire of destructive practice.
There is no such thing as a little sin. What we might deem as a little sin, will invariably lead us to bigger ones, and if we do not uproot it from our hearts at inception, we will eventually find ourselves far from God and His light. It is the way sin works, and those who have played with sin, and flirted with it, and allowed themselves certain liberties thinking they were innocent frivolities and nothing more, have come to know just how beguiling sin can be, and what it can lead to.
Although it is not known who informed Esau of Jacob’s imminent return from Mesopotamia, what is known is that Jacob’s sin had finally found him out, it had finally caught up with him, and now he was terrified of having to see his brother face to face after all these years.
Genesis 32:6, “Then the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, ‘We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.’”
Knowing what he knew about how he’d left things with his brother, upon hearing that Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred men, Jacob likely concluded one thing: Esau was coming to take his revenge, and he was bringing an army with him.
Genesis 32:7, “So Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided his people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies.”
Hearing that the brother who wanted you dead for stealing his birthright is coming to meet you with an army of four hundred men would put a crimp in anyone’s day. Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed, and rightly so, remembering what he had done, and how deceitful he had been toward his brother Esau.
Within this verse we also see something admirable in Jacob, something few in his position would have had the wherewithal to do. Jacob takes action immediately. He does not wallow in his fear, nor does he wallow in his distress. He sets about planning for his brother’s arrival, and divides his people, his flocks, and his camels into two companies. Granted, what he did seems insignificant, seeing as four hundred men were approaching him with his brother Esau at the forefront, but the fact that Jacob was not paralyzed by his fear is something we must take into account, and attempt to emulate.
Genesis 32:8, “And he said, ‘If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the other company which is left will escape.’”
Here was Jacob, doing all that was in his power to do, and preparing for the worst possible outcome. After all his preparations however, after dividing his people into two companies, and hoping that one could escape if the other was attacked, Jacob also realized how limited his preparations were. He realized that what he had been able to do was ineffective and of very little value, so he proceeded to do something more, something that was not dependent on his prowess, his cunning, or his strength. Jacob proceeded to pray.
It is human nature to strategize and come up with contingency plans when we see danger approaching. When we come to the point of panic, when we become greatly afraid and distressed, we will grasp at any straw, reach out for any semblance of a lifeline, and try our utmost to save ourselves.
Eventually, given enough time, we realize the true measure of our impotence. We realize we cannot save ourselves, and so we go before the One we know is able to save us, and keep us and protect us.
After trying to do it all on our own, eventually we run to God, but it would be far wiser still to run to God in the first place, and bypass the fear, and the distress, bypass the feeling of impotence and powerlessness, and just trust in the mighty hand of our God, who is mighty to save.
Admirable as Jacob’s prayer might be, it would have been far more admirable if he had run to prayer first.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.