He had survived the going away party, but he was worried that he might not make it through the homecoming gala.
It had been angry uncle Laban and “his kinsmen” you had pursued Jacob and Jacob’s clan as they sought to quietly steal away from Haran and go find a home back in Canaan. But now it was brother Esau who was headed to out to “greet” him. The same Esau who, twenty years earlier, had his birthright extorted and his blessing stolen by dear brother Jacob. The same Esau who was so enraged then that he couldn’t wait until their daddy died so that he could take out his scheming brother. The same Esau who caused Jacob to so fear for his life that Jacob took off to find his fortune back in Haran. The same Esau who now was coming out to welcome him home. Oh yeah, and, he wasn’t coming alone.
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.
(Genesis 32:6-7a ESV)
Jacob was distressed. Ya’ think?!?!
Crazy angry uncle Laban now behind him, he was anticipating even crazier murderous brother Esau in front of him. I don’t know, I’m thinking I’d be declaring “bust” on our “Canaan or Bust” trek. I’m thinking it’s time for a hard turn left and let’s find somewhere else to settle. But Jacob determines to proceed.
He makes plans to mitigate loss in case Esau attacks his entourage. He devises his own homecoming parade in order to shower Esau with gifts to try and appease any decades-long simmering wrath. And he wrestles in prayer . . . literally! All because he’s going home no matter what.
How come? Why assume the risk? Why keep going down the rocky road? Why not try and avoid the hard stuff?
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,’ . . . 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.'”
(Genesis 32:9, 11-12 ESV)
“But You said” . . . those are the three words that caught my eye this morning.
Jacob was leaving Haran because God had told him it was time. Jacob was heading home because God had said long ago that He would deed that land to his family. Jacob was putting his family at risk because God had promised he would multiply his offspring beyond number. So, though Jacob feared Esau and was uncertain as to why he’d come to meet him with 400 men, Jacob maintained his course. All because of, “but You said.”
It’s the way of the people of God–always has been, always will be–to proceed based on the promise. That’s why our enemy has been calling into question God’s word since the beginning . . . “Did God actually say?” (Gen. 3:1).
When the going gets tough, His promises keep us going. Against the odds, despite the opposition, in the face of uncertainty, if God says journey home so I can bless you, you set your face to home.
Gonna be easy? Not necessarily. Gonna be scary? Likely. Gonna be worth it all? Absolutely! That’s the nature of God’s promise.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
(1Corinthians 2:9-10a ESV)
“But You said.” And so we’ll keep on keepin’ on.
By Your grace. For Your glory.