Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 87
Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 87 (Key verses: Gen 32:1-32)
Under the theme of sanctification through servanthood, the life of Jacob is one of the examples given to typify how God works this process to set His elect apart to bring them to be truthful servants to Him and His people (Exo 28:41; Exo 29:44; Joh 17:17; Eph 5:27; Col 3:24; Rom 12:1; 1Th 1:3-5). We meet Jacob in the scriptures as a deceiver and manipulator, and with this carnal frame of mind Jacob was not ready as yet to be of service to God and his people. Jacob manipulated Esau out of the rights of the firstborn and also received the blessing of the inheritance of the firstborn from his father Isaac through evil scheming with the help of his mother Rebekah (Gen 25:29-34; Gen 27:6-29). But taking possession of the inheritance is a trying and painful process, as Jacob also discovered. He had to leave Canaan to flee from Esau who wanted to kill him, and Jacob lived in Haran in Mesopotamia where he worked for his uncle Laban for 20 years for his two daughters, Leah and Rachel, and also to establish his own flock (Gen 27:42-45; Gen 31:4-7; Gen 30:25-43). Jacob again had to flee, this time from Laban to cross over the river Euphrates to get back into the land which God promised to Abraham and his offspring, even to Jacob (Gen 15:18; Deu 11:24):
Gen 31:3 And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.
Gen 31:20 And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled.
Gen 31:21 So he fled with all that he had; and he rose up, and passed over the river, and set his face toward the mount Gilead.
Laban then pursued after Jacob and his family in the hope of retrieving his household gods and to convince Jacob and his wives to return to Haran. Laban overtook them in the mount of Gilead, but he was unsuccessful in finding his gods and convincing them to return to Haran. Here in mount Gilead, Laban and Jacob eventually made a covenant not to attack each other (Gen 31:22-55). But Jacob was still on the east side of the river Jordan where he is preparing to be confronted by His twin brother, Esau. Before this meeting God knew that Jacob needed special encouragement:
Gen 32:1 And 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 host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim [meaning “two camps” or “two hosts”].
This place called “Mahanaim” has the number two linked to it which spiritually relates to being a witness, as Jacob received this assurance that God’s army will be there for him as he was preparing to meet with Esau:
Gen 32:3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.
Gen 32:4 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:
Gen 32:5 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.
The reference to Esau as lord indicates Jacob’s carnal idea of being at the mercy of Esau even when he already knew God made him lord over Esau. This is just also to indicate how fleshly thoughts will always bring doubt in our minds, which is the inward battle we all must endure. These doubts in Jacob were further fuelled by the message that came from Esau. Esau was already on his way to meet Jacob with a small army of men:
Gen 32:6 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.
Naturally when the flesh’s doubts are confirmed by bad news, it goes into a panic and stress mode which usually activates the natural mind to strategize its own way to protect itself. This is what Jacob always did in the past, as he was usually successful in manipulating the outcome of things, or so he and all natural minds believe:
Gen 32:7 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;
Gen 32:8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.
But this time he also remembered the words of God to him as he is learning to lean and depend on God’s provision more and more. Jacob now turns to God in prayer. Prayer is the spiritual instrument God designed for us to use at all times to confess our total dependence on Him for everything and in every situation (1Th 5:17). Prayer also helps us to grow in our faith in Him, as the flesh and all its solutions are taken out of the equation through prayer. All our battles are in essence spiritual and take place in our heavens, which relates to the way we think about things (Rom 12:2; Eph 6:12-18). Jacob is also learning to use the Word of God in prayer as a powerful weapon in spiritual warfare (2Co 10:3-5):
Gen 32:9 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:
Gen 32:10 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.
Gen 32:11 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.
Gen 32:12 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.
What comfort and peace fills the most fearful and tormented heart when God brings His word and His full armour to our attention, even in our hearts and minds? Perfect love for God’s word is what the fear of God is about when we place His Word above all else and do His commandments with all our hearts (2Co 13:11; 1Jn 4:17-18; 1Jn 5:2-4). This is how we destroy all fear of men as physical Israel was also instructed to always take heed to (Deu 20:1-4; Mat 10:28):
Deu 10:12 And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to
love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
In physical terms Jacob also knew that he and the men with him were no match for Esau and his four hundred men. It was Jesus who said that we must sit down and consult how to rather negotiate conditions of peace than to go to war with obvious limited benefits for us:
Luk 14:31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Luk 14:32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
This is what Jacob will do in the form of gifts he will present to Esau to hopefully avoid a confrontation and to cover for his previous transgressions against his twin brother:
Gen 32:13 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother;
Gen 32:14 Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams,
Gen 32:15 Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.
Gen 32:16 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.
Gen 32:17 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?
Gen 32:18 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.
Gen 32:19 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.
Gen 32:20 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.
Jacob sent his family across the Jabbok River that night:
Gen 32:21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.
Gen 32:22 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 [Hebrew: “yabbôq” = emptying/depopulate].
Gen 32:23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.
The word “Jabbok” in Hebrew has to do with emptying or depopulation – reducing the numbers. This also links to the number mentioned here, the number eleven, which spiritually indicates the disintegration of the flesh, which is spiritually represented by the number ten. It ties in with our theme of sanctification, as this also symbolizes what is happening in Jacob’s life even as he is facing his beastly nature alone. God is taking His elect through this process of getting purged from a life which was occupied with so much darkness and many evils, as per the hand of the Potter (Gen 1:2; Psa 51:5; Jer 18:4; Rom 8:20; 2Ti 2:21). All of this is attained through the process of bearing our own cross (Mat 10:38-39):
Gal 6:3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
Gal 6:4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
Gal 6:5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
Jacob needed to be alone as this is actually how each one of us will encounter separation and the crucifixion of our own flesh – it remains a very personal experience with the help of Christ (1Co 15:31; Gal 2:20). It is in this time of personal judgement when Jacob was wrestling with a man, who was the Lord Himself as He appeared in the form of a man:
Gen 32:24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man [Hebrew: “‘ı̂ysh” – contraction of “ĕnôsh” which is a mortal being – this links to the Hebrew root word “ânash” which means being frail and feeble] with him until the breaking of the day.
Jesus appeared several times in the Old Testament in human form before his incarnation through Mary, and in all these instances He was a spiritual being who materialized for the sake of those to whom He appeared (Gen 16:7-13; Gen 18:1-33; Jos 5:13-15; Jdg 6:11-25; Jdg 13:3-6). When the Lord appeared as a man to Jacob, He could not prevail against Jacob:
Gen 32:25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him…
Why could the Lord in this case not prevail against Jacob? In this interesting and strange event written down for our learning, we meet the Lord for the first time as the One who associates with our physical weaknesses and feebleness. This is how the apostle Paul also described this association of Jesus with His creation:
Php 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Php 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Php 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Php 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
The “form of a servant” is also what connects the Lord to what Jacob was typified as. Jesus indeed took on Him the nature of the seed of Abraham and his offspring, even in service to His human generation in Adam (Mat 20:25-28):
Heb 2:16 For verily he [Christ] took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
Heb 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Heb 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
Heb 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus associates with our suffering because through Him we learn that it is through suffering, even at the hand of our own brethren as ordained by the Father, that we learn obedience to become mature in spirit (Heb 12:5-17):
Mat 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Heb 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
Heb 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
Heb 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
It was in the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus separated or was withdrawn “a stone’s cast” from His disciples to face His fleshly fear alone:
Luk 22:40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
Luk 22:41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
Jesus was 100% human and went through every temptation we encounter (Heb 2:18; Heb 4:15). He is referred to almost twice as many times as the son of man rather than the son of God, though He associates with both these descriptions. The New Testament scriptures according to the King James translation uses the term “son of man” as referring to Jesus a total of 87 times (in Matthew 30 times, in Mark 14 times, in Luke 26 times, in John 11 times, in Acts 2 times, in Romans 1 time, in Hebrews 1 time, in Revelation 2 times). The term “son of God”, referring to Jesus, is mentioned in the King James a total of 46 times (in Matthew 8 times, in Mark 3 times, in Luke 6 times, in John 10 times, in Acts 2 times, in Romans 2 times, in 2 Corinthians 1 time, in Galatians 1 time, in Ephesians 1 time, in Hebrews 4 times, in 1John 7 times, in Revelation 1 time). Jesus is the God of this creation as appointed by the Father, but He is also intimately connected to our flesh in the first Adam:
Rev 1:17 And when I [John] saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
But when Jesus was facing the physical death of the cross, His flesh and natural mind wanted another way except the way of the Father, like all of us will do at our appointed time. There is a time where we are to wrestle alone with this flesh when we need a God who knows what we are going through. This God is Jesus who went through the same agony we all have to face:
Luk 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
Luk 22:43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
Luk 22:44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Luk 22:45 And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
Luk 22:46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
Jacob at this time of trial at his Jabbok river experience is wrestling with this Son of man. The Lord will indeed prevail in the end as we all will be touched on “the hollow of [our] thigh” to put it “out of joint”:
Gen 32:25 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.
As we know the thigh relates to power as this is the most powerful part of the human body to bring about movement and action (Rom 1:20; Gen 32:25; Eze 24:4). The strongest, longest and heaviest bone in the body is also located in the thigh (called the femur). The thigh is also the place where a sword was attached, as indicated in the scriptures (Jdg 3:16; Son 3:8):
Psa 45:3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.
The name of Christ is also written on His thigh showing authority and power:
Rev 19:16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
Abraham wanted his servant to make a vow by keeping his hand under Abraham’s thigh:
Gen 24:2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:
Gen 24:3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:
This all helps us to see that the thigh relates to the aspects of might, glory, majesty, authority, power and the rightful legal position to operate from. Like Jacob, we will all be brought to humiliation to bear the reproach of what we have done in our youth or immature state, even our foolish dependence on the delusional strength of our first man Adam (Jer 31:19; Eze 21:12). This is when we are driven to our wits’ end to witness that our earthly strength and words have failed us, and we will repent of our ideas, God willing (Psa 107:23-31). In this we learn that God’s will and all His ways always work together for the spiritual good of us:
Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Rom 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
It is only when we are driven to come face to face with our fleshly weakness and hollowness that we discover that we naturally do not have what it takes to make war with the earthly beast outside and inside:
2Co 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
Rev 13:4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
It is indeed the Lamb of God in us who will overcome this earthly beast (Ecc 3:18; Rev 13:18; Rev 17:7-14; 2Th 2:3-8). The elect of God will be the first to see why all these trials in their lives were necessary as their own sea comes to rest within this war in our heavens:
Rev 15:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
This is when we, like the apostle Paul, can understand that the joy of the Lord is our strength as we then know that the power and strength is of God alone:
2Co 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
This is the barrier, symbolized by the Jabbok River, we all need to cross as we, like Jacob and Job among all the other earthly types, will learn within this wrestling and contending with the Lord that He knows of what frame we are (Job 40:2; Gen 2:7; Gen 3:19; Psa 103:14). Here we learn that He is our strength and our blessing in every aspect of our lives, especially in the darkest times we will face before the day breaks within. This new day is the birth of the new man with a new name as we are also given the authority and dominion over our inward fleshly nations “by little and little” (Exo 23:30; Deu 7:22; Rom 6:13-14):
Gen 32:26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
Gen 32:27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
Gen 32:28 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.
Jacob’s name means “heel catcher” or “supplanter” because that is the way he came out of the womb of his natural mother, Rebekah, when he was holding on to the heel of his twin brother, Esau. As we know and read in the scriptures, a name relates to the nature of that person, and this old nature of Jacob is now being supplanted by God. This all relates to the fact that the new man in Christ will progressively supplant the old man Adam in all at the appointed time. The name Israel means “a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed”:
Gen 32:29 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.
Gen 32:30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel [Hebrew: “penû’êl”/“penı̂y’êl” = the face of God or facing God]: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
To see Christ face to face is to see ourselves first as the marred and weak vessel of clay which He created and subjected to vanity which He will form again in a new vessel of spirit which is what He had planned before the creation of this world (Isa 46:10; Jer 18:4; Rom 8:20 Rev 1:1-3; Mat 4:4). We can only face our own beast with the new man Christ in us when we bear the marks of Christ in our own bodies. This is the grace of God when we can count it all joy to even endure all the trials He ordained for us and only after that we can enter into His temple (Rev 15:8):
Gal 6:17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Gal 6:18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Facing God is to submit to His rulership as we also acknowledge that all our steps are directed by God even as the Sun of Righteousness rises up on them with spiritual healing in his wings (Pro 20:24; Jer 10:23):
Gal 6:16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
Mal 4:2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
Although our earthly body decays and all our worldly interests are losing their grip on us, a new life is birthed in us as we are raised with Christ so that “mortality might be swallowed up of life”, even now as a down payment of that spirit life of Christ in us (2Co 5:1-4; 2Co 5:16-17; Rom 6:3-6; Eph 1:13-14):
Gen 32:31 And as he passed over Penuel [Hebrew: “penû’êl”/“penı̂y’êl” = the face of God] the sun rose upon him, and he halted [Hebrew: “tsâla” – limp] upon his thigh.
Gen 32:32 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.
Detailed studies and emails relating to these foundational themes in Scripture are available on the www.iswasandwillbe.com website, including these topics and links:
Other related posts
- Foundational Themes in Genesis - Study 87 (March 19, 2015)
- Children's Study - Jacob, Part 12 - Jacob Meets Esau (October 16, 2016)
- Awesome Hands - part 14: "Despised his birthright" (October 13, 2012)