The content of this message is taken from the 2nd book in the History of Redemption series. Today we are going to look into the internal struggles that Jacob went through in his life of faith.
We are going the look at Jacob’s 2 greatest enemies: Laban and Esau.
The definition of an enemy is a person who hates you, opposes you and stops you from doing something. Laban is Jacob’s boss, uncle, father-in-law and oppressor. He cannot get out and it is hard to stay.
Jacob tendered his resignation after 14 years. Jacob discussed terms with his boss before he went. He told Laban that he only have his wives and children. What will a boss do when his star employee is about to leave? You will counter offer right? Jacob could have asked for lots of money but instead, he asked to work for Laban for another 6 years.
Jacob says my honesty will answer for me. Justice and righteousness is a name for God. It also means God will reward me. He works at night, he works hard. Laban for these 6 years broke the contract 10 times. Throughout the entire 6 years, he changed the terms. Laban stole away using human methods and this is something that Jacob cannot overcome but God saw his suffering. The 20 years of salary, Jacob received it in 6 years.
God at Bethel promised Jacob that He will not leave Jacob. Jacob understood that God will be with him and that is why he can go home knowing that God will provide. You have no way to see into the future but God knows. Laban was busy collecting his flocks only to give them to Jacob in the last 6 years. When Jacob was a free servant, Laban liked him, but not now because Jacob is very rich. This is the hardening of Laban’s heart like that of Pharoah’s.
Jacob returned a millionaire. He was so scared of Laban and he did not dare to tell his wives. He had his servants go to the field to ask his wives and they were willing to leave with him. Being someone who is insignificant, Jacob’s absence at the lamb shedding feast was not noticed. As such, he was 3 days ahead. Laban was so angry that he chased after Jacob. They caught up at Gilead and Jacob would have killed Jacob If God did not appear to Laban.
Suddenly from being angry, he forgave Jacob. Even though Jacob has suffered for 20 years, now Laben wants to be his partner. God has given Jacob much more. When you have a bigger vision and a little conflict, this conflict is nothing. No matter what you are going through now, God will repay you.
Esau is a skilful hunter and Jacob is the quiet man in the tent.
Why does Esau hate Jacob? Jacob tricked him 2 times. To reconcile is to be forgiven by Esau. Which is easier for Jacob? To forgive someone or for another to forgive you? It is harder for someone to forgive you right?
Jacob did 4 things.
1. He split his family into 2
This is human effort. When we do something wrong, we always feel fear. He was so guilty that he could not overcome it.
2. He prayed
He took the Word of God and negotiated with God.
3. He prepared gifts for Esau
If you want someone to forgive you, you have to give something to them right? He prepared 550 animals.
He prepared the gifts with wisdom.
• He split it into 5 different groups.
• He made the shepherd walk behind.
• He called his brother Lord.
This is the process we have to go through. God made us go through this humbling process.
4. Jacob wrestled with God at Jabbok.
Sometimes as Christians, we have to walk alone. You can share your woes with other people but you still have to walk alone. He was begging God and was crying out. The Bible described it as a wrestling match but this is Jacob crying out. We have to pray to God until he answers. He prayed until his hip socket was dislocated. The strongest and longest bone was dislocated and what does it mean? Some people are very good at certain things. Jacob’s special talent is being a wily little fox. All his deceitful manner, he felt was useless at this point and the only way for him to get past his brother is to be crippled. God in our prayer crippled us. Once we realize that only God can give us our security. We need to be those who have dislocated our thigh bones in our prayer. After he has dislocated himself, God asked what is your name? In his situation, to say that “I am Jacob”, was humiliating. That is when God says no more, with me you are the victor. That is when Jacob called the place Penuel. Your greatest strength is your prayer, giving up all that you know and you have.
He bowed down 7 times to the brother. He is now 96 years old. To bow down 7 times to someone who hates you, is difficult but he did it. The result is amazing. This is completely by the grace of God.
What did Jacob say? He was able to say to see your face is the face of God. He is willing to get to this level for reconciliation.
What can we learn from Jacob? We are learning to forgive and to be forgiven by others. We are to pursue peace with all men. We have to fight back the desire to hurt. Jacob gave up his strength. We need to be close to God and let go of the hatred in our hearts for reconciliation to take place.