Beginning of the End


Jacob’s Terrible Night of Wrestling

This chapter is based on Genesis 32 and 33.

With many misgivings Jacob retraced the road he had taken as a fugitive twenty years before. His sin of deceiving his father was always on his mind. He knew that his long exile was the direct result of that sin. He thought about these things day and night, his accusing conscience making his journey very sad. As the hills of his native land appeared before him in the distance, all the past rose vividly before him. With the memory of his sin came also the promises of divine help and guidance. BOE 90.1

He thought of Esau with dread. Esau might be spurred to violence not only by revenge, but to gain unchallenged possession of the wealth he had long looked upon as his own. BOE 90.2

Again the Lord gave Jacob a sign of divine care; two camps, or armies, of heavenly angels advanced with his company, as if for their protection. Jacob remembered the vision at Bethel so long before, and his burdened heart grew lighter. The divine messengers who brought him hope and courage as he fled from Canaan were to be the guardians of his return. And he said, “This is God’s camp.” BOE 90.3

Yet Jacob felt that he had something to do to secure his own safety. He therefore sent messengers to Esau with a greeting that he hoped his brother would receive with favor. The servants were sent to “my lord Esau.” They were to refer to their master as “your servant Jacob.” And to remove the fear that he was returning to claim the inheritance, Jacob was careful to state in his message, “I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female servants.” BOE 90.4

But Esau sent no response to the friendly message. It appeared certain that Esau was coming to seek revenge. Terror swept the camp. “Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed.” His company, unarmed and defenseless, were completely unprepared for a hostile encounter. From his vast flocks he sent generous presents to Esau, with a friendly message. He did all in his power to atone for the wrong to his brother and to avert the threatened danger. Then he pleaded for divine protection: “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant. ... Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children.” BOE 90.5

Jacob decided to spend the night in prayer, alone with God. God could soften the heart of Esau. In Him was Jacob’s only hope. BOE 91.1