Genesis 32 Commentary

Genesis 32 Commentary

Jacob is back in the big time! The angels of the LORD meet him. Are we talking about the same three that met his grandfather Abraham? It is possibly another instance of the LORD Jesus appearing to Jacob in person. We do not know the details of the discussion. But it does tell us something about the LORD’S desire to have Jacob out of Laban’s hand and be separate. We have seen increased interaction with the LORD after Jacob leaves Laban. Of course Jacob himself reports a solo dream where the LORD showed him ‘greener areas’ of business whose instructions he implemented in a Jacob way. Apart from this dream we don’t have much. But now the LORD has moved in strongly and Jacob’s life won’t be the same.

Verse 10 is important as we see Jacob acknowledging the LORD as the source. He owns nothing without the LORD. Jacob is now thinking about the LORD more and more. It’s a moment of reflection.

The fearful Jacob prepares to meet Esau. His prayer is more intense – a real benefit of struggle is that it makes us connect with our God in a real way. Jacob is transforming. He has seen real need for help. He is a dead man if the LORD doesn’t come through. He finds himself between a rock and a hard place. He calls upon the God of his fathers Isaac and Abraham. He begins to see God for what He is – the ever-present God.

That done we still see Jacob do humanly what could be done to appease his angry brother but not until an all-night prayer and fighting. He is fighting God which kick-starts an important phase in Jacob’s life. His name is changed to Israel. He has won the battle. But what does this exactly mean? How can God lose the battle?

It could be that the LORD is referring to Jacob’s fights in life and that finally the battles are over. His battles have in essence been battles with his God. He battled for the birthright. He reckoned and felt it wasn’t right that he was born second place. He knew the blessing would bypass him. He settled it by buying the birthright. Later on Jacob would connive with his mother to get the blessing. Then the battles at Laban’s place…

But wasn’t Jacob already blessed? Why was he still fighting for a blessing? Could it be that Jacob’s victory is a reference to him finally acknowledging the fact that the LORD had blessed him? With this knowledge, could we be right if we said that a moment of rest had come for Jacob? This view could be supported by the fact that from this moment on Jacob has a renewed relationship with his God. The name change has confirmed the long standing blessing. It had been there all along and he didn’t know it.

Verse 24 is special in that Jacob decides to separate himself. He finds a closet for a ‘me-God’ time. There comes a time when a man separates himself from both family and possessions to concentrate on the most important matters of his relationship with his maker. It is a dress rehearsal for one’s exit from this earthly life when all that remains of a man is his relationship with the LORD. Jacob redefines the term closet for us. It should be both physical and mental – a moment when we consider ourselves alone (no possessions, no titles, no ambitions). Then we can try to reach God without being in a hurry. Holy Spirit, help us. Help me.

This passage can be taken as one written specifically to a people whose natural circumstances have put them under a great disadvantage. The one born second place with little hope for a blessing must take rest from this Jacob’s story. Jacob’s path is that of fighting for it and still feeling like there is nothing taking place. The battle must be lost. Let the LORD win because each time the LORD wins, I win also. For indeed I only win if the LORD wins.

Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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