Read Genesis 31
An exciting climax to the personal problems and struggles Jacob has encountered in his life, and thus far, overcome. Laban and his sons are jealous of Jacob's blessings. Jacob flees; the covenant between Laban and Jacob; Jacob's intense wrestling in prayer; God changes Jacob's name to Israel. Esau and 400 men are coming to meet Jacob (Gen. 32:3-21; 33:1).
Laban and his sons eventually became hostile and envious of Jacob's prosperity. They assumed that Jacob had employed unfair manipulation to gain their father's riches. However, Jacob said to his wives: And ye know that with all my power I have served your father (Gen. 31:6; comp. 31:7,14,16). Jacob foresaw the coming conflict and, in prayer, the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers . . . and I will be with thee (31:3). Jacob continued as God had said to return unto the land of thy fathers. But when he discovered that his brother, Esau, was coming to meet him with 400 men, he could see no visible hope of survival for himself and his family.
Fearing the upcoming meeting with Esau, this godly and humble servant of the Lord spent the night alone with God, earnestly praying until God conferred on Jacob the highest honor to any man in Old Testament history: Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel (Prince of God): for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed (overcome) (32:28). Through the centuries, the people of God would be called by his name — Israelites. Through his son Judah, Jesus the Messiah was promised (49:10).
Jacob fully depended upon the mercy of God to deliver him and his family from the overwhelming odds of 400 armed men. God even changed his name — no longer Jacob, but now Israel. This profound name literally means, a prince who has power with God. Jacob's descendants cannot be numbered (32:12). No other person in Hebrew history has received such a distinguished name.
Jacob's prayer is a blueprint for praying. He was honest and specific with the Lord and claimed the promise of God, even as he wrestled with the angel (32:9-12,24; Hos. 12:4). Jacob prayed for deliverance and God answered his prayer and sent angels to protect him. As he had been delivered from Laban, he was also delivered from Esau and his 400 men. Jacob illustrates the power available to a diligent intercessor.
Through Jacob's life we learn that God will train us in the school of difficulties and tragedies to develop our faith in Him. Let us be conscious of His presence with assurance that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Eph. 3:20).
Thought for Today:
Like Jacob we can be overcomers because Jesus promised: In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33). He that overcometh shall inherit all things (Rev. 21:7).
As the Angel (Messenger) of God who guides and provides our necessities (Gen. 31:11-13; Matt. 6:33; John 10:30).
31:2 not toward him not favorable; 31:7 suffered permitted; 31:15 counted of him considered by him as; devoured also our money spent the money he got for us as dowries; 31:18 of his getting which he acquired; 31:19 images household idols; 31:30 longedst after are homesick for; 31:31 peradventure perhaps; 31:34 furniture saddle; 31:36 wroth angry; chode with reprimanded; 31:50 afflict mistreat; 31:52 over beyond; 32:8 smite attack; 32:10 bands camps; 32:12 seed descendants; 32:13 came to his hand he had received; 32:15 kine kows; 32:16 drove herd; 32:21 company camp; 32:31 halted imped; 33:2 hindermost; 33:13 tender meak, frail; 33:14 softly slowly; 33:17 booths temporary shelters.
Pray for International Broadcasts sponsored by A Family That Loves Jesus • Staff: Jennifer Cunningham • Government Official: Rep. Michael Turner (OH) • Country: Philippines (76 million) in Southeast Asia • Major languages: Filipino and English • Religious persecution in some areas • 80% Catholic; 9% Protestant; 8% Muslim (mostly Sunni); 3% Other (Buddhist, Animist, non-Religious) • Prayer Suggestion: Pray in secret before God, not seeking human praise (Matt. 6:6).
Optional Reading: Matthew 11
Memory Verse for the Week: Deuteronomy 4:2