Wednesday, January 23. Genesis 32 – 34.

Centuries later the prophet Hosea will write of Jacob: “In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel; as a man he struggled with God.” Isaac’s youngest son has been fighting all his life.

Some of it Has been his own fault. Behavior is like that. You make bad choices and the consequences follow you seemingly forever. Every day is a struggle.

When he left home, Jacob made a vow at Bethel: if God would watch over him and bless him so that he returned safely to his father’s house, he would devote himself to God.

Twenty years have passed. Jacob struggled with his wives. He struggled with Laban. He must have wondered often whether God was with him. And yet, Jacob increased. God’s blessing often comes ever so slowly. I think one of the reasons is that God cannot give us everything we want when we want it out of fairness to others. Perhaps another reason is that if He responded as we wished, we would be overwhelmed.

One step remains: returning home. In Jacob’s mind, Esau is an obstacle, but his brother’s hatred has subsided (or so it seems) and he welcomes Jacob with warm embrace. Why then does Jacob seem to lie to Esau? Why doesn’t he accompany his brother and join forces with him?

Why indeed?

Remember, God has not promised to bless Esau and Jacob together. Jacob is the child of promise. He is not allowed to share it with Esau, nor can Esau share in it. As God’s people, we’d do well to remember Jacob and Esau’s meeting. When God’s people assimilate with those who are not, the result cannot be the people of God. We can embrace those who are not God’s people, but there must always been an aloofness between us lest our distinctiveness as holy people be destroyed.