Genesis 32

Either we lean on God or on our own plans.
The arrangements of unbelief and impatience prevent God acting for us and He must bring us to the end of our own strength.

And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.

And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:

And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.

¶ And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.

Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;

And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.

¶ And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:

10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.

11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.

12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

13 ¶ And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother;

14 Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams,

15 Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.

16 And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove.

17 And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee?

18 Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob’s; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he is behind us.

19 And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him.

20 And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me.

21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.

22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.

23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.

24 ¶ And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.

32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.

Genesis 32:1-12 – Jacob Fears to Meet Esau

Before we encounter our Esaus we are sure to meet God’s angels. If only our eyes are not holden we shall perceive them. The world is full of angel help! There are more for us than against us! The Captain of the Lord’s hosts is as near us as He was to Joshua, and His squadrons await our cry. “Thinkest thou,” said our Lord (Matthew 26:53), “that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” In times of trial we betake ourselves to God, and are justified in claiming His protection, so long as we can show that we are on His plan and doing His will. It was the news brought by his messengers of Esau’s approach that elicited from Jacob this marvelous prayer; but his prayer did not prevent him making what plans he could for the safety of his dear ones. —Through the Bible Day by Day

“Mahanaim” is still the name of every place where a man who loves God pitches his tent. We may be wandering, solitary, defenceless, but we are not alone. Our feeble encampment may lie open to assault, and we be all unfit to guard it, but the other camp is there too, and our enemies must force their way through it before they get at us. (McLaren)

Measure your mercies by the foot rule of your deserts. (Mark Guy Pearse)

Genesis 32:13-32 – Jacob Wrestles and Prevails

There is a fulsomeness in Jacob’s address to Esau, which sounds inconsistent with the noblest manhood and the firmest faith. Why should he speak of “my lord” Esau (v. 4), and endeavor to appease his wrath with soft speeches and rich gifts? Evidently much had to be effected in his character before he could become one of the great spiritual forces of the world, and his supreme discipline came in that midnight wrestle. The Angel who wrestled with him could have been none other than the Son of man, who is also the Angel of the Covenant and Son of God. It was not that Jacob wrestled with the Angel, but that the Angel wrestled with him, as though to discover and reveal his weakness, and to constrain him to quit reliance on his own strength and to learn to cling with the tenacious grip of a lame man, who dare not let go, lest he fall to the earth. Ah, it is well to be even maimed, if through the withered thigh we may learn to lay hold on the everlasting strength of God, and learn His secret Name! —Through the Bible Day by Day

Genesis 32:25 – He touched the Hollow of his Thigh.

   Our greatest victories are wrought out through pain, and purchased at the cost of the humbling of the flesh. Jacob learned that the secret of prevailing with God and man was not in the strength, but in the weakness and suffering of the flesh. It must ever be so. The victor Lamb bears still the scars of Calvary, and appears as one who had been slain.
   Had Laban met Jacob that morning, he would have pointed to that limp as an indication of God’s wrath and displeasure; but if he had looked into his face, he would have seen all its hardness and cunning gone, and would have been arrested by the unwonted tenderness in his voice.
   The shrunken sinew counteracts pride.—So high a spiritual achievement as to prevail with God might have tempted Jacob to arrogance and self-esteem. But God anticipated the possible temptation by this physical infirmity, which was constantly present to Jacob’s consciousness.
   The shrunken sinew was the secret of victory.—Had it not been shriveled by the angel’s touch, Jacob would have continued to resist in the pride of his strength, and would never have clung convulsively to the angel, crying, “I will not let thee go” (v. 26). It was only in that act that he became Israel, the Prince.
   The shrunken sinew makes us think little of this world and much of the next.—From this moment Jacob takes up more of the pilgrim attitude. He finds that for him, at least, the pace will have to be slower; but it is well, for he relaxes his hold on the seen to entwine more tenaciously about the unseen. “The days of the years of my pilgrimage” (Genesis 47:9) —such is his epitome of his life. —Our Daily Homily

It was on his knees that Jacob became a prince; and if we would become princes, we must be more upon our knees. (Williams)

   In the ancient times, a box on the ear given by a master to a slave meant liberty: little would the freed-man care how hard was the blow. By a stroke from the sword the warrior was knighted by his monarch: small matter was it to the new-made knight if the hand was heavy. When the Lord intends to lift His servants into a higher stage of spiritual life, He frequently sends them a sever trial; He makes His Jacobs to be prevailing princes, but He confers the honor after a night of wrestling, and accompanies it with a shrunken sinew. Be it so: who among us would wish to be deprived of the trials, if they are the necessary attendants of spiritual advancement? (Spurgeon)