By: Ely Lagajino
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 (NKJV)
While nearing his homeland, Jacob focused on the danger of his brother Esau’s revenge instead of trusting God. Jacob must have thought, “my coming back would create bad news to Esau; he might think I am returning to claim my inheritance. This might lead to a violent attack against my family to totally become the sole heir of our parents’ wealth.”
Jacob sent an advance party with a message of reconciliation to his brother. He was coming with thousands of speckled animals and servants. To erase Esau’s doubts that he is not interested in the inheritance.
Meanwhile, Esau became a more prosperous and powerful leader during the twenty, long years. He founded Edom, a country in the mountainous land of Seir, rich in natural resources such as gold and silver. The name Edom refers to his starving over the red stew, which resulted in selling his birthright. (Genesis 25:30) Rebekah, his mother, revealed that Esau was “boisterous” yet had an “occasional kindness” (PP p. 173). If we invert the word “Edom,” it becomes “mode,” which identifies Esau’s moody character.
Unknown to Jacob, Esau monitored the approaching spotted caravan from their mountainous country. Together with his four hundred men, they marched to meet Jacob with a secret mission.
Esau and his four hundred surprised Jacob’s advance party on the way. They handed the greetings, but they received no response from Esau. The messengers returned faster to warn their master of the approaching danger.
“He must be coming for revenge,” Jacob said in distress.
With Laban back in Haran, Jacob reached the point of no return. He divided his company into two groups so that if Esau’s men attacked the first group, the second would have the chance to escape. Then he sent another batch of messengers bringing a gift of speckled animals, a new technology to meet Esau and remove his anger. (Genesis 31: 43:55)
At this moment, Jacob realizes that his only hope of safety did not depend on a 50-50 human and divine force but on a 100% divine intervention. In humility and repentance, he pleaded to God for protection.