Sunday, August 01, 2010


Celebrating Christmas is always more fun when a family gets to watch little kids open gifts. Part of the fun is the unpredictability of their reactions to the gift! When Aunt Lulu giftwraps a hand-knitted purple sweater for little Johnny, his instinctive response is, “Eewww!” Every parent cowers, cringes, cries at the humiliation of a child's transparency. When little Johnny gets a little older, his manners improve; and this time he greets Aunt Lulu's 6-pack of tighty whitey underwear with a droning, “Thank you, Aunt Lulu,” before tossing the package aside and ravenously opening the next gift. Soon, little Johnny has created two piles on Christmas morning: the “Ho-hum, sit in my drawer untouched” pile and the “Woohoo, this is great stuff” pile. I tend to be like little Johnny with God's gifts. Unfortunately, when God piles on the gifts and blessings so regularly, my “Woohoo” factor goes down. It takes bigger and better things to warrant my “Woohoo” pile, and soon my “Ho-hum” pile is mounded with even His most gracious provisions. Jacob had a little “Woohoo” problem when he faced a potential problem…

Gen. 32:1-3 – [After God protected Jacob from Laban's wrath] “Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, 'This is the camp of God!' So he named that place Mahanaim. Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.”
  • Jacob had just experienced God's miraculous rescue from his ticked-off father-in-law, and now he sees the supernatural manifestation of God's angels right before his eyes! Woohoo! So what does he do? He names a patch of ground, and then – ho-hum – proceeded with his own plan as though he'd never seen God's power available to him. In which of your piles rests the Cross of Christ and the Holy Spirit?
Gen. 32:4-5 – “[Jacob] instructed them: 'This is what you are to say to my master Esau: “Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, menservants and maidservants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.”'”
  • Jacob tried to TALK his way out of trouble. Many of us believe if we can just TALK to or reason with someone, we can work things out. I've heard it said that if I spent as much time talking to God about a certain individual as I spent talking to that individual about God…we'd all be better off. Unfortunately, I seem to think my words are more effective in swaying a heart than my prayers…hmmm.
Gen. 32:6-8 – “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.' In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups,(two camps) and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, 'If Esau comes and attacks one group,(two camps) the group that is left may escape.'”
  • Jacob tried to THINK-STRATEGIZE-WORRY his way out of trouble. He used the same word, Mahanaim, to describe the camps he was dividing but didn't include God in either group! How many times do we think, plan and worry – without once including God in the strategy session?
Gen. 32:9-12 – “Then Jacob prayed, 'O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O LORD , who said to me, “Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,” 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 groups. 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. 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.”'”
  • Jacob tried to PRAY his way out of trouble. So what's wrong with that? He even prays God's Words back to Him. That sounds like a great idea! Absolutely! But here's the problem. What happens AFTER the prayer? Did Jacob receive peace after the prayer that was accompanied by faith? Were Jacob's next words/actions those of a man trusting God with his future? Was Jacob's prayer a panicked plea from a desperate man or an urgent request from a confident covenant bearer? There is a difference.
Gen. 32:13-20 – “He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 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.' He instructed the one in the lead: 'When my brother Esau meets you and asks, “To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?” 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.”' 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. 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.'”
  • Jacob tried to BUY his way out of trouble. The last-ditch effort. If the talking, planing and praying didn't work, maybe bribery would speak his brother's language. Call it insurance…or call it doubt.
Gen. 32:21 – “So Jacob's gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.”
  • Jacob was divided. He was in one camp, his peace offerings in another…Mahanaim…but no angels of God in either.
Lord, I want You in my undivided camp – You as my power Source. I don't want to spin and toil on my own, after giving You a simple nod and ceremonial thank-You. Let Your presence guide, conquer and bring peace to every circumstance I face. Amen.

1 comment:

Pam Oglesbee said...

Beautiful home!