The Purpose & Power Of God: Genesis 33:1-20

The Purpose & Power Of God: Genesis 33:1-20
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday September 24, 20

Notes, not at Transcript:

Today, in Jacob’s life, we see the Purpose and Power of God flowing through. We see the sovereign God of all creation exercising on the hearts of scorn-filled angry man and are reminded of God’s great power and unthwartable plan of salvation.

Genesis 33:1–20 (ESV)
Jacob Meets Esau
1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants.

Let’s remember the experience that Jacob is coming off of.

Genesis 32:24–25 (ESV)
24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.
25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.

Genesis 32:31–32 (ESV)
31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.
32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.

He has been striving with an angel sent by God, was touched and left with a limp.  Last week we discussed the reminder that this was to Jacob that, no, this was not a dream, but in addition to the many encouragements to return to his homeland (Genesis 31:3) encouraging him, “I will be with you,” made it possible for him to have great possessions after his time with Laban, gave him passage from Laban and now, 33:1, as he is limping off, he lifts his eyes and behold Esau was coming.

Genesis 31:3 (ESV)
3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.”

And not alone, Esau

Genesis 27:42 (ESV)
42 But the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son and said to him, “Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you.
Up go his eyes, sore hip, huge family traveling with his four mothers of his 13 children (Ruben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Dinah, Joseph, and Benjamin.  Now, he is going to divide the children among the wives and put them in order, verse 2.

2 And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all.

For us, many cultural things are happening here that are foreign and strange.  We’re so familiar with our customs that we don’t even know how to look at another.  In the US, men tend to open or hold the door for women; we shake hands and jeep people oddly and compulsively wave at each other, as do motorcycle people. Presidents of the US need to have a sharp mind so they don’t inadvertently botch foreign customs or norms or forget to shake someone’s hand, as they can start international discomfort by awkwardly bumbling things.  I am convinced this ordering of the families wasn’t Jacob’s last stand to have a toddler army lined up in groups of 3. This was an ordering in importance, with the previous being Rachel and Joseph.

When the Lord appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre in Genesis 18:1-3, he bowed.  Future facing in Genesis 42:6, child number 12, son number 11, standing in the back position of importance will, as predicted by a vision in Genesis 37:9, will bow down to him a position of submission and reverence, in these instances and culturally – normal, like holding the door open.

3 He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

Joseph isn’t taking a defensive position or a warning posture against Esau and his 400 men, instead submitting and honoring:

Proverbs 6:1–5 (ESV)
1 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
have given your pledge for a stranger,
  2    if you are snared in the words of your mouth,
caught in the words of your mouth,
  3    then do this, my son, and save yourself,
for you have come into the hand of your neighbor:
go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor.
  4    Give your eyes no sleep
and your eyelids no slumber;

  5    save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Ecclesiastes 10:4 (ESV)
  4    If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place,
for calmness will lay great offenses to rest.

Luke 14:11 (ESV)
11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

How frequently are our problems perpetuated because neither side will stand down because everyone wants to win and demands justice?
If only we had a book:

Psalm 37:8–9 (ESV)
  8    Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
  9    For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

4 But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.

Joseph has been stepping bowing, stretched out forehead on the ground, inching towards Esau.  Did Esau stand and wait and let him get off all 7? Did he keep walking, closing the gap? Joseph stepped bowed, stood up, stepped bowed, not sure – but when they came together, it was an embrace. 
This is again reminiscent of Jacob’s greeting with his sons in Genesis 45, a great story read ahead, or the Prodigal in Luke 15:20, its emotion opening up and pouring out.  It demonstrates God with Jacob and the hearts of man in the hand of their creator – this is the favor of God on Jacob on display purpose to the limp he’ll carry and that the Jews will remember as they take on dietary restriction to keep God’s presence, and power, and sovereignty with them day in and day out, from generation to generation.

5 And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.”
6 Then the servants drew near, they and their children, and bowed down.
7 Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down. And last Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down.

The children are those whom God, by his grace, has given Joseph, and they all meet – kids mom, servants, ending with Joseph and Rachel.

8 Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.”
9 But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.”
10 Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.
11 Please accept my blessing that is brought to you because God has dealt graciously with me and because I have enough.” Thus, he urged him, and he took it.

Jacob was here to make peace, trusting (perhaps imperfectly) the call of God (Genesis 31), the promise of God to be with him, and now this new limp promising God is with him and to never forget it.

Esau asks, what did you mean by all the camps I meet? (LSB is helpful here.) The Hebrew is more directly camps than “company I met,” like the ESV ESV has translated company three times, and 265 times camps.  These are the servants, Oxen, Donkeys, Flocks, male servants, and female servants sent to find favor in Genesis 32:1-5 after Go meets Jacob at the place named Mahanaim, two camps, God’s camp.
Jacob presses on Esau. This was a gift of you and is yours now.  I get this one.  Growing up in the South, being a child is confusing.  You take nothing EVER.  It’s cultural – I don’t know why people offer kids things. Let’s skip it. They’ll say no.  I would go to my neighbor’s house to “help.” Actually, I was sent as an indentured servant to work for them.  They’d invariably offer me a soda, which I’d deny. They’d pressure me as adults, and I’d go home and be asked, you didn’t take a soda, did you?… It’s also why your grandmother would skip the horse mess, put money in your pocket, and say, shhhhhh. 
Don’t mess with a southern grandma; you take it, and you shhhh.
And so Jacob presses on Esau, no, this isn’t for you to decline. It’s now yours, and that is that.

12 Then Esau said, “Let us journey on our way, and I will go ahead of you.”
13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail, and that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to me. If they are driven hard for one day, all the flocks will die.
14 Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”

On this, John Calvin said:
“Although Esau was inclined to benevolence, Jacob still distrusts him: not that he fears to be ensnared, or that he suspects perfidy to lie hidden under the garb of friendship; but that he cautiously avoids new occasions of offence: for a proud and ferocious man might easily be exasperated again by light causes. Now, though just reason for fear was not wanting to the holy man, yet I dare not deny that his anxiety was excessive. He suspected the liberality of Esau; but did he not know that a God was standing between them, who, as he was convinced by clear and undoubted experience, watched for his salvation? For, whence such an incredible change of mind in Esau, unless he had been divinely transformed from a wolf into a lamb? Let us then learn, from this example, to restrain our anxieties, lest when God has provided for us, we tremble, as in an affair of doubt.” – Calvin

We see the Purpose and Power of God flowing through; we see the sovereign God of all creation exercising on the hearts of scorn-filled angry man and are reminded of God’s great power and unthwartable plan of salvation.

15 So Esau said, “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.”
16 So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir.
17 But Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.

Acts 7:13-16 tells us that as far back as Abraham, the land was purchased for silver, so too does Jacob buy this land.

Acts 7:13-16 (ESV)
13 And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh.
14 And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all.
15 And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, he and our fathers,
16 and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

18 And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram, and he camped before the city.
19 And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent.
20 There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.

He establishes an alter and external testimony to his faith in God, a place of sacrifice and worship for himself so that all would know that he worships a God of Purpose and Power, a sovereign God of all creation exercising on the hearts of scorn-filled angry man and that even still to us know in our day, that we are reminded of God’s great power and unthwartable plan of salvation.  We’ll leave further discussion to the appropriateness of the alter here for the coming weeks and as far out as the call to go to Bethel in Chapter 35.

Jacob’s life is a living testimony of a growing faith brought along by God and his power on display.

Psalm 37:8–9 (ESV)
  8    Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
  9    For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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