Children’s Study – Jacob, Part 11 – Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau

Jacob – Part 11, Jacob prepares to meet Esau

Last time we saw Jacob leaving Laban’s house after serving Laban for twenty years. We also saw Rachel, the symbol of the elect, stealing her father’s household gods.

Gen 31:19 (GNB) Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and during his absence Rachel stole the household gods that belonged to her father.

We learned that spiritually this is what we do when we keep the traditions that we learned from our former churches, even after physically leaving them. It is important to know that the Lord is not pleased with us when we do this.

Eze 14:4 (GW) “So speak to them. Tell them, ‘This is what the LORD says: Suppose an Israelite is devoted to idols and allows himself to fall into sin. Suppose he goes to a prophet to ask for my help. I, the LORD, will give that Israelite an answer, the answer that his many idols deserve.
Eze 14:5 I will do this to recapture the hearts of the nation of Israel. They have deserted me because of their disgusting idols.’
Eze 14:6 “So tell the nation of Israel, ‘This is what the Almighty LORD says: Change the way you think and act! Turn away from your idols, and don’t return to any of your disgusting things.

Laban was so angry when he found out that Jacob left without telling him that he pursued Jacob with some of his relatives for seven days. But when they caught up to Jacob, God warned him not to hurt Jacob. This tells us that nothing is hidden with God, even what we feel, despite showing the opposite. At first, Laban tried to mask his anger by saying that he would have gladly let Jacob go.

Gen 31:27 (ERV) Why did you deceive me and slip away without telling me? If you had told me, I would have sent you on your way with rejoicing and singing to the music of tambourines and harps.

Laban also gave some valid reasons to be angry.

Gen 31:28 (CEV) You didn’t even give me a chance to kiss my own grandchildren and daughters good-by. That was really foolish.

Gen 31:30 I can understand why you were eager to return to your father, but why did you have to steal my idols?

For Jacob to not allow Laban to kiss his daughters and grandchildren goodbye and to steal his household gods is legitimate reason for Laban to be angry. Of course, neither Laban nor Jacob knew that it was Rachel who stole her father’s household gods.

When Laban could not find his household gods, this gave Jacob a chance to witness against the evil deeds of his father-in-law.

Gen 31:38 (ERV) I have worked 20 years for you. During all that time none of the baby sheep and goats died during birth. And I have not eaten any of the rams from your flocks.
Gen 31:39 Whenever a sheep was killed by wild animals, I always bore the loss myself. I didn’t take it to you to show that it was not my fault. You demanded that I make good anything that was stolen during the day or during the night.
Gen 31:40 Many times I suffered from the heat during the day and from the cold at night. I was not able to sleep.
Gen 31:41 (GNB) It was like that for the whole twenty years I was with you. For fourteen years I worked to win your two daughters—and six years for your flocks. And even then, you changed my wages ten times.
Gen 31:42 If the God of my fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac, had not been with me, you would have already sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my trouble and the work I have done, and last night he gave his judgment.”

You would think that Laban would be ashamed after hearing how he treated Jacob from Jacob’s perspective. But what he did is what we all do when we are not humbled by God to admit our own mistakes.

Gen 31:43 (GNB) Laban answered Jacob, “These young women are my daughters; their children belong to me, and these flocks are mine. In fact, everything you see here belongs to me. But since I can do nothing to keep my daughters and their children,

“Everything you see here belongs to me.” Wow! Laban really is blinded to see things this way. Jacob worked for Leah and Rachel for fourteen years, and for his flock for six years and Laban still had the nerve to say “everything you see here belongs to me”.

But Jacob has been given the humility to forgive Laban, even if Laban could not get himself to repent of his sins at this time. This is the same kindness and humility that our Lord has shown to those who nailed Him in the cross.

Luk 23:33 (ESV) And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.
Luk 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

That’s how kind our Lord is. He did not ask the Father to burn these people forever. Of course, the Father will forgive Laban and those who crucified our Lord. But they will suffer first and be made to repent in the lake of fire. But the same fire, the words of God, will be used to save them.

1Co 3:13 (MKJV) each one’s work shall be revealed. For the Day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try each one’s work as to what kind it is.
1Co 3:14 If anyone’s work which he built remains, he shall receive a reward.
1Co 3:15 If anyone’s work shall be burned up, he shall suffer loss. But he shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

We also saw last time that Jacob agreed to make peace with Laban by setting up a pile of stones as a witness, which they each called a name in two different languages.

Gen 31:44 (GNB) I am ready to make an agreement with you. Let us make a pile of stones to remind us of our agreement.”
Gen 31:45 So Jacob got a stone and set it up as a memorial.
Gen 31:46 He told his men to gather some rocks and pile them up. Then they ate a meal beside the pile of rocks.
Gen 31:47 Laban named it Jegar Sahadutha, while Jacob named it Galeed.

We continue the story by looking at what these memorial stones meant to Laban and to Jacob.

Gen 31:48 (ESV) Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore he named it Galeed,
Gen 31:49 and Mizpah, for he said, “The LORD watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight.
Gen 31:50 If you oppress my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.”
Gen 31:51 Then Laban said to Jacob, “See this heap and the pillar, which I have set between you and me.
Gen 31:52 This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm.
Gen 31:53 The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac,
Gen 31:54 and Jacob offered a sacrifice in the hill country and called his kinsmen to eat bread. They ate bread and spent the night in the hill country.
Gen 31:55 Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned home.

So this stone pillar and the pile of stones are both reminders to Laban and Jacob that they will not hurt each other. Laban also warned Jacob not to mistreat his daughters, completely ignoring the fact that he is the one who mistreated them and Jacob.

This humility given to Jacob to make peace with someone who mistreated him badly is the same humility given to his father, Isaac. If you remember, Isaac made peace with Abimelech even after Abimelech mistreated him badly. When Isaac was in Gerar, the Lord blessed him with great possessions so the Philistines became jealous of him and drove him away.

Gen 26:14 (ESV) He [Isaac, Jacob’s father] had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him.

Gen 26:16 And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”

But Isaac did not hold a grudge against Abimelech and made an agreement with him to not hurt each other.

Gen 26:30 (ESV) So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank.
Gen 26:31 In the morning they rose early and exchanged oaths. And Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace.

We truly reap what we sow, in other words, we will be treated in the same way as we treat others. As we continue Jacob’s story, let’s keep this in mind.

Gen 32:1 (ESV) Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
Gen 32:2 And when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

The reason God sent His angels to meet with Jacob is to encourage him on what is about to take place. After 20 years, Jacob will meet Esau again. Twenty years ago, Esau swore to kill Jacob after Jacob cheated him of his rights and blessings as the firstborn.

You can just imagine how nervous Jacob was about this meeting.

Gen 32:3 (ESV) And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom,
Gen 32:4 instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now.

Jacob, despite encouragement from God’s angels and the Lord’s protection over him from Laban, is still doubting the Lord will protect him from his brother Esau. This is why he sent all these gifts and referred to Esau as “lord” or master.

Gen 32:5 (ESV) I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male servants, and female servants. I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.'”

Jacob wants to bribe his way into Esau’s forgiveness. Remember, he took advantage of Esau’s hunger to make him exchange his birthright for a bowl of soup. Then he and his mom, Rebekah, took advantage of his dad’s poor eyesight in order to make Isaac give him the blessings reserved for Esau. Jacob thinks that Esau is still very angry at him even after 20 years.

Jacob is trying to manipulate Esau again. This is Jacob’s idol of the heart. He thinks he can manipulate people into doing what he wants every time.

Gen 32:6 (ESV) And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.”

Oh boy! Esau is now coming with a small army. Jacob must now think that the bribe didn’t work. His brother is coming to kill him! The Lord is answering Jacob according to the idol of his heart. Instead of relying to the Lord to protect him, Jacob tried to do things his own way.

Eze 14:4 (GW) “So speak to them. Tell them, ‘This is what the LORD says: Suppose an Israelite is devoted to idols and allows himself to fall into sin. Suppose he goes to a prophet to ask for my help. I, the LORD, will give that Israelite an answer, the answer that his many idols deserve.

Jacob naturally panicked and devised a way to save some of his family and flocks.

Gen 32:7 (ESV) Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps,
Gen 32:8 thinking, “If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape.”

But this time, Jacob remembered to pray.

Gen 32:9 (ERV) Then Jacob said, “God of my father Abraham! God of my father Isaac! LORD, you told me to come back to my country and to my family. You said that you would do good to me.
Gen 32:10 You have been very kind to me. You did many good things for me. The first time I traveled across the Jordan River, I owned nothing–only my walking stick. But now I own enough things to have two full groups.
Gen 32:11 I ask you to please save me from my brother Esau. I am afraid that he will come and kill us all, even the mothers with the children.
Gen 32:12 Lord, you said to me, ‘I will be good to you. I will increase your family and make your children as many as the sands of the sea. There will be too many to count.'”

Now we’re talking! This is the right thing to do.

Php 4:6 (ERV) Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have.

This is how the Lord works with His people. He put us through trials and suffering to remind us to call on Him. He puts us in distress and in situations beyond our control to remind us of our total dependence in Him. Jacob is slowly but surely learning this lesson.

Gen 32:13 (WEB) He stayed there that night, and took from that which he had with him, a present for Esau, his brother:
Gen 32:14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams,
Gen 32:15 thirty milk camels and their colts [young camels], forty cows, ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten foals [young donkeys].
Gen 32:16 (ERV) He gave each flock of animals to his servants. Then he said to them, “Separate each group of animals. Go ahead of me and keep some space between each herd.”
Gen 32:17 Jacob gave them their orders. To the servant with the first group of animals he said, “When Esau my brother comes to you and asks you, ‘Whose animals are these? Where are you going? Whose servant are you?’
Gen 32:18 then you should answer, ‘These animals belong to your servant Jacob. He sent them as a gift to you, my master Esau. And he also is coming behind us.'”

After we pray for something, we must then work to make it happen. If you want good grades, you don’t just pray to God and do nothing. You must study hard and do all your homework to the best of your ability.

Everything works out for the good to them who love God. But those who love God do not just pray to Him; they also work hard and use all the abilities God gave them to serve Him.

Gen 32:19 (ERV) Jacob also ordered the second servant, the third servant, and all the other servants to do the same thing. He said, “You will say the same thing to Esau when you meet him.
Gen 32:20 You will say, ‘This is a gift to you, and your servant Jacob is behind us.'” Jacob thought, “If I send these men ahead with gifts, maybe Esau will forgive me and accept me.”

After praying to God, Jacob prepared more gifts for Esau to make it clear to his brother that he is seeking peace with him.

We cannot fool God. He will make people treat you the way you have treated others. We have seen Jacob get mistreated by Laban, which is his punishment for the way he tricked and manipulated Esau and their dad Isaac.

Gal 6:7 (MKJV) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he also will reap.

Gal 6:7 (CEV) You cannot fool God, so don’t make a fool of yourself! You will harvest what you plant.

But we also saw Jacob making a peace agreement with Laban even after the twenty years of misery he has suffered in his hands. Jacob planted a seed of forgiveness and peacefulness with his uncle Laban. Will he harvest what he planted?

Next time, Lord willing, we will see what happened when Jacob finally met his brother again.

Fun facts – a game for the kids:

Match the adult animal names to the names of their young:

camel ———- a. puppy
donkeys ——- b. lamb
goats ———-  c. joey
sheep ———  d. squab
swan ———-  e. ephyra
kangaroo —–  f. kid
llama ———  g. cygnet
cat ————  h. leveret
dog ———–  i. cria
dove ———-  j. kitten
hare ———-  k. colt
jellyfish ——  l. foal