When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, "We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you--he and four hundred men with him."
1. God's visible actions to his saints have been apt to be mistaken by men.
Jacob's preparation against danger betokened his sense of duty to do his utmost under the circumstances, and his sense of past errors and ill desert towards his brother. There is an exercise of our own judgment in times of distress and extremity which is quite consistent with dependence upon God. - R.
And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. I.
FROM THE GREAT CONFLICT WITH SIN NONE COME OFF WITHOUT MANY A SCAR. We may wrestle and prevail, but there will be touches of the enemy, which will leave their long and bitter memories. The way to heaven is made of falling down and rising up again. The battle is no steady, onward fight, but rallies and retreats, retreats and rallies.
II. The reason of our defeats is that THE OLD SIN OF THE CHARACTER CONTINUES, AND CONTINUES WITH UNABATED FORCE, IN THE HEART OF A CHILD OF GOD. There are two ways in which sin breaks out and gains an advantage over a believer.
1. A new temptation suddenly presents itself.
2. The old habit of sin recurs — recurs, indeed, sevenfold, but still the same sin.
III. ALL SIN IN A BELIEVER MUST ARISE FROM A REDUCTION OF GRACE. This is the result of grieving the Holy Ghost by a careless omission of prayer or other means of grace. There was an inward defeat before there was an outward and apparent one.
IV. DEFEAT IS NOT FINAL. It is not the end of the campaign; it is but one event in the war. It may even be converted into a positive good to the soul, for God can and will overrule guilt to gain; he allows each defeat to teach us repentance and humility.
The sun-rising may be in special mercy unto tempted persons, as well as good to all.
2. Holy conquerors in temptation may go out halters.
3. Halting is no evil while it tends to humbling Jacob and his seed (ver. 31).
2. Jacob's children have been forward to turn God's spiritual intentions to carnal interpretations (ver. 32).
()In these bodies of ours there is often perpetuated the recollection of some former sin, and the wrestle for pardon which grew out of it. You remember that during the awful fight with Apollyon in the Valley of Humiliation, Bunyan tells us that Christian, despite of all he could do, was wounded in his head, his hand, and his foot. Few men there are, whose early life has been profligate, who do not even to this day bear in their persons most recognizable pains, and perplexing inabilities, and mortifying memorials of the sorrowful past. Repentance brings pardon, but never restores the ravages of sin. In the child's story, we were taught that it was easy to draw the nails that numbered our faults from the tree-trunk that recorded them; but the scars remained for ever. More often, however, this memorial of conflict takes the form of constitutional weakness, or besetting sin. An early inadvertence, a youthful vice, a wild habit, an impulsive act of criminal evil, from the guilt of which the penitent man has been restored by the pardoning mercy of God, has yet proved to be of sufficient moral force to leave behind it a permanent mark. The wound healed, but it is only cicatrized over; it can never be less than a centre of solicitude, tender and sensitive to exposure. Always after this that soul has one insecure, one vulnerable point to be watched. There are men to-day who, just because they once swore an oath, have to put up special guards against profanity. There are men who once read a page of a vile book that have never got over the tendency to impurity it bred in their souls. We may definitely conclude, from wide observation, that no wickedness has ever been committed which has, in the end, left the man where it found him. God may forgive much; but the devil's service fixes its own memorial on the soul. One of its natural sinews of strength has been shrunken, and now it betrays itself by the limp. Two lessons will follow just here. One is this: — Let every person, young and growing beware of all vice, and be on the alert against even early sin. You maybe called upon to carry its stigmas with you to the great day of your death. You may be a weaker man all the days and years you live afterwards, just because of one seemingly trifling indulgence. This body of ours is a wonderful thing. It is the most beautiful object in the world. When the artists searched the universe for the curve of absolute beauty, they found it in the maiden's shoulder; when they wanted the colour of absolute purity, they found it in the infant's cheek. But this body may be deformed, disfigured, ruined, by sin. Be careful about that! The other lesson is one of consideration for others. When we see a man with a personal mutilation, every instinct of courteous life bids us hesitate to causelessly wound his feelings. When the weakness is mental or moral, the appeal if yet more direct and overwhelming to our thoughtfulness and care. He who would heedlessly disregard a sign of weakness or old exposure like this is more unthinking and more ungenerous even than he who would drink wine in the presence of one who had been a drunkard, or rattle dice in a reformed gambler's ear. The silent plea of feebleness ought to be simply irresistible to every noble mind. It seems to say plaintively, like the suffering Job: "Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me!" We must use our Christian freedom cautiously, lest with our indulgence we should injure one for whom Christ died.
()Jacob is to me the most difficult character in the Bible history. He looks so worldly, shrewd, and even unscrupulous, that it is hard to reconcile ourselves to him. I feel the justice of the sneers about him, and sometimes it seems humbling that this should be one of the patriarchs, even in that rude time. But if all were on one side, it would be easy, however painful, to judge of him. It is his singular contradictions, with his visions of angels, &c., that make it hard. He cheats his brother; and behold him just afterward with his consecration, his awful sense of God's presence, and hear his simple vow! Behold Jacob so shrewd to Laban, so calculating and successful! Behold him returning; see the shrinking of his guilty and timid heart; and then at night see this scene of wrestling! We are all of us mixtures of earth and heaven, but I know of none like this. On the one hand I see Jacob sometimes so merely a Jew that he seems the father of Jewish guile, fear, unscrupulousness, and thrift. On the other I see him sometimes not only as the deeply faithful lover in his youth, the most tender father, but as an elevated, majestic man of faith, who believed in high things, who valued them, and who left on record such words of lowliness and penitence for his faults, in such genuine tones, that the purest and most repentant hearts take them up from age to age and repeat them as their own: "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which Thou hast showed unto Thy servant"; "Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been," &c. Nay, I see him sometimes as so purely an inspired Hebrew, that he seems the father of the visions of Hebrew prophets, the father of the Psalms, and the father of the deepest spiritual insights of the Bible. How wonderful! The shame and sorrow and shock of such contradictions is a common tale. Alas, that we, who are linked in some qualities, at some moments, with the highest, purest, in the fellowship of Christ, should so blaspheme ourselves, should descend from angels' food to prey on garbage — that heavenly-fashioned hearts should go into business and society and do mean things, and be worldly Jacobs, and forget, and live our low lives, while we have in solemn moments our visions and wrestlings! This is not merely for reproach, but for hope. Awful contradiction as man is, Christ believed in the power of the better part.
PeopleEsau, Isaac, Israelites, Jacob, Laban, Penuel, Seir
PlacesEdom, Jabbok River, Jordan River, Mahanaim, Mizpah, Peniel, Penuel, Seir
TopicsBrother, Esau, Furthermore, Hundred, Jacob, Meet, Messengers, Moreover, Returned, Saying, Servants, Turn
Outline1. Jacob's vision at Mahanaim.
3. His message to Esau.
6. He is afraid of Esau's coming.
9. He prays for deliverance.
13. He sends a present to Esau, and passes the brook Jabbok.
24. He wrestles with an angel at Peniel, where he is called Israel.
31. He halts.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 32:3-21
LibraryMahanaim: the Two Camps
And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim' (i.e. Two camps).--GENESIS xxxii. 1, 2. This vision came at a crisis in Jacob's life. He has just left the house of Laban, his father-in-law, where he had lived for many years, and in company with a long caravan, consisting of wives, children, servants, and all his wealth turned into cattle, is journeying back again to Palestine. His road …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Twofold Wrestle --God's with Jacob and Jacob's with God
'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: 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. 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 …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
"And He Said, Let Me Go, for the Day Breaketh. " --Genesis xxxii. 26
"And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh."--Genesis xxxii. 26. Let me go, the day is breaking, Dear companions, let me go; We have spent a night of waking In the wilderness below; Upward now I bend my way, Part we here at break of day. Let me go, I may not tarry, Wrestling thus with doubts and fears, Angels wait my soul to carry, Where my risen Lord appears; Friends and kindred, weep not so, If you love me let me go. We have travell'd long together, Hand in hand, and heart in heart, Both …
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns
Of the Name of God
Exod. iii. 13, 14.--"And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." We are now about this question, What God is. But who can answer it? Or, if answered, who can understand it? It should astonish us in …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
Gen. xxxi. 11
Of no less importance and significance is the passage Gen. xxxi. 11 seq. According to ver. 11, the Angel of God, [Hebrew: mlaK halhiM] appears toJacob in a dream. In ver. 13, the same person calls himself the God of Bethel, with reference to the event recorded in chap. xxviii. 11-22. It cannot be supposed that in chap xxviii. the mediation of a common angel took place, who, however, had not been expressly mentioned; for Jehovah is there contrasted with the angels. In ver. 12, we read: "And behold …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
"Lord, teach us to pray."--Luke xi. 1. "Jacob called the name of the place Peniel."--Gen. xxxii. 30. ALL the time that Jacob was in Padan-aram we search in vain for prayer, for praise. or for piety of any kind in Jacob's life. We read of his marriage, and of his great prosperity, till the land could no longer hold him. But that is all. It is not said in so many words indeed that Jacob absolutely denied and forsook the God of his fathers: it is not said that he worshipped idols in Padan-aram: that …
Alexander Whyte—Lord Teach Us To Pray
The Great Shepherd
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. I t is not easy for those, whose habits of life are insensibly formed by the customs of modern times, to conceive any adequate idea of the pastoral life, as obtained in the eastern countries, before that simplicity of manners, which characterized the early ages, was corrupted, by the artificial and false refinements of luxury. Wealth, in those …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1
We shall consider our text, then, as one of the productions of a great master in spiritual matters, and we will study it, praying all the while that God will help us to pray after the like fashion. In our text we have the soul of a successful pleader under four aspects: we view, first, the soul confessing: "I am poor and needy." You have next, the soul pleading, for he makes a plea out of his poor condition, and adds, "Make haste unto me, O God!" You see, thirdly, a soul in it's urgency, for he cries, …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871
Explanatory and Biographical
INTRODUCTION TO BOOK I English lyrical religious poetry is less easily divisible than our secular verse into well-marked periods, whether in regard to matter or to manner. Throughout its long course it has in great measure the groundwork of a common Book, a common Faith, and a common Purpose. And although incidents from human life and aspects of nature are not excluded (and have in this selection, when possible, been specially gathered, with the view of varying the garland here presented)--yet …
Francis Turner Palgrave—The Treasury of Sacred Song
The Worst Things Work for Good to the Godly
DO not mistake me, I do not say that of their own nature the worst things are good, for they are a fruit of the curse; but though they are naturally evil, yet the wise overruling hand of God disposing and sanctifying them, they are morally good. As the elements, though of contrary qualities, yet God has so tempered them, that they all work in a harmonious manner for the good of the universe. Or as in a watch, the wheels seem to move contrary one to another, but all carry on the motions of the watch: …
Thomas Watson—A Divine Cordial
The Angel of the Lord in the Pentateuch, and the Book of Joshua.
The New Testament distinguishes between the hidden God and the revealed God--the Son or Logos--who is connected with the former by oneness of nature, and who from everlasting, and even at the creation itself, filled up the immeasurable distance between the Creator and the creation;--who has been the Mediator in all God's relations to the world;--who at all times, and even before He became man in Christ, has been the light of [Pg 116] the world,--and to whom, specially, was committed the direction …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
Meditations for the Morning.
1. Almighty God can, in the resurrection, as easily raise up thy body out of the grave, from the sleep of death, as he hath this morning wakened thee in thy bed, out of the sleep of nature. At the dawning of which resurrection day, Christ shall come to be glorified in his saints; and every one of the bodies of the thousands of his saints, being fashioned like unto his glorious body, shall shine as bright as the sun (2 Thess. i. 10; Jude, ver. 14; Phil. iii. 21; Luke ix. 31;) all the angels shining …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
St. Malachy's Apostolic Labours, Praises and Miracles.
[Sidenote: 1140, October] 42. (23). Malachy embarked in a ship, and after a prosperous voyage landed at his monastery of Bangor, so that his first sons might receive the first benefit. In what state of mind do you suppose they were when they received their father--and such a father--in good health from so long a journey? No wonder if their whole heart gave itself over to joy at his return, when swift rumour soon brought incredible gladness even to the tribes outside round about them. …
H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh
A Treatise of the Fear of God;
SHOWING WHAT IT IS, AND HOW DISTINGUISHED FROM THAT WHICH IS NOT SO. ALSO, WHENCE IT COMES; WHO HAS IT; WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS; AND WHAT THE PRIVILEGES OF THOSE THAT HAVE IT IN THEIR HEARTS. London: Printed for N. Ponder, at the Peacock in the Poultry, over against the Stocks market: 1679. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," and "a fountain of life"--the foundation on which all wisdom rests, as well as the source from whence it emanates. Upon a principle …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
Thirdly, for Thy Actions.
1. Do no evil, though thou mightest; for God will not suffer the least sin, without bitter repentance, to escape unpunished. Leave not undone any good that thou canst. But do nothing without a calling, nor anything in thy calling, till thou hast first taken counsel at God's word (1 Sam. xxx. 8) of its lawfulness, and pray for his blessings upon thy endeavour; and then do it in the name of God, with cheerfulness of heart, committing the success to him, in whose power it is to bless with his grace …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
Fragrant Spices from the Mountains of Myrrh. "Thou Art all Fair, My Love; There is no Spot in Thee. " --Song of Solomon iv. 7.
FRAGRANT SPICES FROM THE MOUNTAINS OF MYRRH. HOW marvellous are these words! "Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee." The glorious Bridegroom is charmed with His spouse, and sings soft canticles of admiration. When the bride extols her Lord there is no wonder, for He deserves it well, and in Him there is room for praise without possibility of flattery. But does He who is wiser than Solomon condescend to praise this sunburnt Shulamite? Tis even so, for these are His own words, and were …
Charles Hadden Spurgeon—Till He Come
A Believer's Privilege at Death
'For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.' Phil 1:1I. Hope is a Christian's anchor, which he casts within the veil. Rejoicing in hope.' Rom 12:12. A Christian's hope is not in this life, but he hash hope in his death.' Prov 14:42. The best of a saint's comfort begins when his life ends; but the wicked have all their heaven here. Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.' Luke 6:64. You may make your acquittance, and write Received in full payment.' Son, remember that …
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity
The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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