“Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed…” (Genesis 32:7)
The reason for the meeting of these two brothers, Esau and Jacob, after twenty years of separation, is found in Genesis 25 – 29. Jacob had bought Esau’s birthright; and also had deceived his father Isaac into bestowing the best blessing upon him, instead of Esau. As a result of this action, Jacob had to flee to his mother’s people in Haran (Genesis 27:43), Padanara (Genesis 28:2). He had to flee because Esau had sworn to kill Jacob for his deception in stealing his blessing (Generis 25:33; 27:41).
Jacob then served Laban 20 years for his two wives and his cattle. God now commanded Jacob to return to Canaan, unto the land of his kindred (Genesis 31:13). Jacob loaded up his wives and his material goods, and headed home.
As Jacob neared his homeland, he received word that Esau had come to meet him with 400 men (Genesis 32:6). And our text says, “Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed…”
Thus comes the question “Why?” Why should Jacob be afraid and distressed from the possible wrath of Esau to slay him, since God had told Jacob to return?
Most would be quick to criticize Jacob. Most would call him weak in faith, a real coward. The answer, they say, is his lack of believing in God’s ability to keep him safe.
Yet this happens daily in many of God’s children today.
The problem with Jacob, and all that fall into the same trap of the flesh that he did, is Hebrews 11:6:
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
The problem with Jacob, and all of God’s Children who continuously doubt God’s Word of Promise, is a lack of faith. To understand this statement you must understand what happened to Jacob that very night, as recorded in Genesis 32:24-32.
Jacob had been revealed who God was on his way to Uncle Laban’s (Genesis 28:11-22). But it was not until his return (Genesis 32:24-32) when:
“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” (verse 24).
Jacob would not let the man go, “…except thou bless me” (verse 26).
Then the man did the following for Jacob:
- The man changed his name from Jacob to Israel, “…for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (verse 28b).
- The man gave Jacob a limp in one of his legs (verse 25).
- “… And he (the man) blessed him (Jacob) there.” (verse 29c)
The answer to Jacob’s problem was in this experience.
“And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” (Genesis 32:30)
What happened to Jacob at Peniel is the same thing that happened to the 120 waiting in the Upper Room in Acts 1 and 2. They received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit; or the receiving of the New Birth, called Regeneration, or Born from Above (John 3:3-8).
Jacob, and also the early Church, received the Gift of the Holy Spirit; which means that Christ, who is The Faith, came to live within them. (Read Romans 8:14-16; John 3:3-8; Galatians 4:5-6.) That is, Christ had come to live within the believer. Therefore, the believer now had the Power of God to overcome fear, doubt, and unbelief (Romans 8:8-13; Galatians 2:20).
Until you have the Power of God living within you; until you are made free by the Spirit of Life from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2); until your life is dead and is “hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3); until you are raised from your spiritual deadness, wherein you are given the power to walk in the “newness of life” (Romans 6:4); until you are made a “new creature” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) – you will continue to walk by sight and not by faith (or by Christ; Galatians 2:20).
We come back to our question “Why?” Why are you afraid of the enemy? Why are you distressed? Why do you have no peace? Why?
The answer is because you need to be Born from Above (John 3:3-8). You need to be made the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20). You need to become One in Christ in knowledge (John 17:21-24). You need to be enabled to stand in His great and precious Promises (2 Peter 1:1-4). You need to know Him, not about Him.
Where are you living today? Are you living in fear and doubt and unbelief? Or are you living in the Spirit of love, power, and a sound mind? (See 2 Timothy 1:7.)
You say, “Well, I go to church every time the door is open; I tithe; I do, do, do for Him. But something is missing.”
The answer is not: Do you know about Him? But the answer is: Do you know Him?
Have you seen God face to face in Jesus Christ? (See 2 Corinthians 4:6-7.) Do you know for a certainty that you possess Eternal Life? (See 1 John 5:20.) For Eternal Life is Christ living in you.
If not, do as Jacob did – face God and seek to be blessed (Genesis 32:24-32). And then you also will receive a new name, a prince who has Power with God and with man.