Saturday, September 19, 2020

2020.09.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 33:1–17

Read Genesis 33:1–17

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jacob see in Genesis 33:1? Into what three groups does he divide the wives and the children (Genesis 33:1-2)? Who goes first (Genesis 33:3)? What does he do? But what does Esau do in Genesis 33:4? Then whom does he see, and what does he ask (Genesis 33:5)? How does Jacob describe his children? What do the three groups do in Genesis 33:6-7)? What, then, does Esau ask about in Genesis 33:8? How does Jacob answer? What does Esau say he has in Genesis 33:9? What does he tell Jacob to do? What does Jacob tell Esau to do (Genesis 33:10)? What does he say about seeing Esau’s face? How does this relate to Genesis 32:13–32? What does Jacob tell Esau to do in Genesis 33:11? Why? What does Esau propose in Genesis 33:12? What objection does Jacob make in Genesis 33:13? What suggestion does he make in Genesis 33:14? What promise does he make/imply? What suggestion does Esau make in Genesis 33:15, and how does Jacob respond? Where does Esau go in Genesis 33:16? Where does Jacob go in Genesis 33:17? What does he do there? What does he call it?

Up through Genesis 33:2, Jacob has put the maidservants and their children in the most vulnerable position and Rachel and Joseph in the safest. But then he takes for himself the dangerous lead, making slow progress with all of the (seven) bowings (Genesis 33:3). By contrast, Esau runs in a manner that reminds us of the father in the parable of the prodigal son, falling on Jacob’s neck and kissing him (Genesis 33:4).

Esau, for his part, does seem not only loving (verse 4), but content or even grateful (Genesis 33:9). But, Jacob doesn’t trust him. He makes an excuse not to go together (Genesis 33:13), an excuse not to have any of Esau’s men accompany him (Genesis 33:15), and even a promise to meet him in Sier that he does not end up keeping (Genesis 33:16-17). 

Jacob cannot go to Seir, because he must journey to the land of promise, where he reestablishes himself in a home (Genesis 33:17). For Jacob, his contentment is not merely a matter of his having “enough” as Esau says in Genesis 33:9, but a matter of his having “all” (Genesis 33:11). How does he have “all”? Because what he has is not merely family and flocks but the grace of God (Genesis 33:5Genesis 33:11).

The grace of God is more than everything else together—so much so that we have the almost surreal experience in verse 11 of hearing Jacob plead with Esau for Esau to take his blessing. What a turnaround from their interaction up to this point! But we understand the reasoning from Genesis 33:10 (which would have sounded like mere flattery in Esau’s ears). 

Jacob refers to Esau’s favor (literally “grace”), offers him a present (literally “offering”), and even says that seeing his face is like seeing God’s face. It is this last bit that clues us into what Jacob is thinking. He needs nothing, because he has seen the true God’s face and survived by the true God’s grace. He is able to give the present/offering to Esau to make peace, because it all belongs to God anyway. Jacob’s shrewdness enables him to make peace because he trusts in God’s grace (cf. Luke 16:1–9).

The children of Jacob—the children of Israel—needed to understand this. God had spared them from Himself at the Passover. He had been gracious to them, and He would provide for them. Not only should they have trusted Him, but they should have been willing even to be generous with one another.  

And what of us—the children of God in Christ? We, most of all, see how God has spared us from Himself in Christ! We, most of all, ought to see all that we have is God’s graciousness to us. We, most of all, ought to be able to be generous with others out of faith in God. 

How has God saved you from Himself? What else has He given you by this grace? What does this free you to do?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH23A “The Lord’s My Shepherd”

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