Confronting Esau (Genesis 32 - from The Message)
Reading Together .........
1 [a]Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.[b] 3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. 5 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’”
6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”
7 In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups,[c] and the flocks and herds and camels as well. 8 He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group,[d] the group[e] that is left may escape.”
9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, LORD, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”
13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.”
17 He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ 18 then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’”
19 He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20 And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.’” For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” 21 So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.
My very first question when I read this was, what happened with the angels? According to my NASB Study Bible the very presence of the angels was to reassure Jacob that the Lord was with him. Unfortunately no further details are provided on what happened in that time. Wouldn't you love to have more details sometimes?
So Jacob's first tactic in dealing with his fear of what Esau will do to him is to send messengers. Messengers to tell Esau that Jacob is a servant (expressing humility and courtesy) and where he as been along with what all he has gained. Why did he tell Esau what all he has gained? Intimidation perhaps?
Jacob's fear comes alive in a whole new way when he realizes that Esau has 400 other guys with him. Now, Jacob's fear is completely founded in my opinion. He fled Esau in the first place because Esau was going to kill him. Now Esau has 400 other guys with him. Let's see 401 to 1. I think Jacob is going down.
So Jacob starts getting busy. Dividing people up, making a plan, figuring, etc. And then he starts to pray, well, beg God actually, to keep His end of the promise - to not let Esau kill them all off.
How do you deal with your fear of confrontation?
Here's Jacob's plan.
1. God says to go back home. Esau is there. God trumps the fear. Jacob goes.
2. Jacob sends someone else to see how Esau is feeling before he confronts him.
3. Jacob's fear goes into overdrive with assumptions that Esau is going to kill him when the messengers return.
4. Jacob starts planning and doing as a result of his fear.
5. Jacob starts praying - begging God to keep His promise to Jacob.
6. Jacob starts following through with his action plan.
What is your action plan when you have to confront someone? Is it what it should be? What should a godly action plan look like?
I'll share a personal story next time relating to this, but here are some ideas to conclude our time in prayer today.
Ideas for Prayer.......
- Pray that God would make it clear when it is time for confrontation with others to occur.
- Pray for peace and assurance as you prepare for that meeting that God would be with You and that His timing was right.
- Pray for His words, His feelings, His thoughts to be your thoughts.
- Pray for peace and His will to be done as a result of the confrontation.