Last week in our look at the life of Jacob (through the book "Escaping with Jacob" by David Ramos), we looked at Jacob's encounter with a "stranger" that resulted in a dislocated hip and a new name (Israel). Jacob's life has been transformed and he is finally on the path to being who God has called him to be (and only after a few decades!). Now there are still family relationships to be mended; he still has to deal with the consequences of his past behavior. But he is no longer alone.
Week 15: Read Genesis 33:1-20 (He Prepares a Way)
"Jacob is a new man. Fear is no longer his main driving force. As Israel, he has found a renewed confidence and he will certainly need it. The next morning, right after his divine struggle, Jacob sees his brother approaching. Still unsure of how the meeting might go, Jacob divides his children and camp into separate sections. If the reunion does turn violent, those most dear to him might be able to escape.
In an instant, everyone's fears are calmed. Esau, the brother who was wronged, who had every right to want revenge, runs up and kisses him and the two begin to cry. This is the best case scenario in every way. As Jacob was on his journey towards becoming a new man, it seems his brother has changed as well. Esau accepts the gifts from his brother and invites Jacob back to live on his land. However, Jacob does not accept the invitation - whether out of obedience to God (Jacob was supposed to go into Canaan) or perhaps out of apprehension to fully trust Esau still. Either way, the scene ends with the two brothers peacefully going their own way. Jacob buys a plot of land on the edge of Shechem and prepares for the next chapter of his story.
Israel feared returning home for decades. He was positive his brother still maintained ill will towards him, but he finally faced his fears and returned home anyways. What Jacob didn't know was that God was working on his behalf while he was gone. As Jacob was going through struggles and becoming the man who would be known as Israel, God was testing and growing his brother Israel as well.
This story reminds me of how much I don't know. There's no way Jacob could have known his brother was going to react like that. Yet he still chose to take a step of faith and face his fear. God honored his obedience by going before him and preparing a way. In the same way, God asks us to take risks and steps of faith that seem counterintuitive. They seem that way because we don't know everything God does. Next time you find yourself like Jacob, feeling the pull of God towards something that scares you, remember - God is only guiding you in that direction because God has already prepared a way."
Takeaway from today's lesson: We have a God who goes before us.
Prayer: God, thank you that you know my fears. Help me to believe that you are preparing a way in every direction you lead me. Amen.