Jacob Sends Messengers And Gifts to Esau

One New Year’s Eve at London’s Garrick Club, British dramatist Frederick Lonsdale was asked by Symour Hicks to reconcile with a fellow member. The two had quarreled in the past and never restored their friendship. “You must,” Hicks said to Lonsdale. “It is very u … More


Since God had told Jacob to return to Canaan, he had been obedient. Now he had an unseen angel escort him all the way (vv. 1-2). What happened at Bethel took care of his beliefs, what happened at Jabbok took care of his behavior. There was a great crises in his life when he became a saved man, there was an equally great crises in his life when he became a sanctified man. With a sigh of relief Jacob saw Laban, his sons and his servants disappear over the distant horizon. After Laban is gone Jacob began to think about how he will face Esau and he becomes greatly afraid. The greater part of this chapter is concerned with all the expensive and unnecessary plans Jacob went to in order to be reconciled to his brother.

1. First he tried negotiation (vv. 3-8) - He sent messengers bowing and scraping to make contact with Esau and give him flattering messages. Esau responded with 400 men (v. 6) which was a warning of his ability to deal with Jacob from strength and not weakness.

2. Next he decided to try intercession (vv. 9-12).

(a) He pleaded the purposes of God (v. 9). “If I wasn’t obedient to you I would not be here.”

(b) He pleaded the providence of God (v. 10). “I am not worthy of all you have given me.”

(c) He pleaded the protection of God (v. 11). “Deliver me I pray for I fear him.”

(d) He pleaded the promises of God (v. 12). “And thou saidst I will surely do thee good.”

3. Finally he decided to try reconciliation (vv. 13-21). Not willing to leave matters in God’s hands  he prepared 200 she-goats, 20 he-goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 30 camels with their colts, 40 cows, 10 bulls, 20 donkeys and 10 birds to be given to Esau as a gift. Jacob hoped the gifts would make Esau friendly, so Esau would be glad to see him when they met. Jacob’s men took the gifts on ahead of him, but he spent the night in camp


God will not bless me with spiritual blessing unless I am willing to admit and make right (where it lies within my power) my trespasses and sins of the past.

Genesis 32:1-21 (English Standard Version)

Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them he said, "This is God's camp!" So he called the name of that place Mahanaim. And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, instructing them, "Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, 'I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now. 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.'" 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." 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, thinking, "If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape." And Jacob said, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,' I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. But you said, 'I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.'" So he stayed there that night, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milking camels and their calves, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. These he handed over to his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, "Pass on ahead of me and put a space between drove and drove." He instructed the first, "When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, 'To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?' then you shall say, 'They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a present sent to my lord Esau. And moreover, he is behind us.'" He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, "You shall say the same thing to Esau when you find him, and you shall say, 'Moreover, your servant Jacob is behind us.'" For he thought, "I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterward I shall see his face. Perhaps he will accept me." So the present passed on ahead of him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp.

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