From Eternity Past


Chapter 18—Jacob's Terrible Night of Wrestling

This chapter is based on Genesis 32 and 33.

With many misgivings Jacob retraced the road he had trodden as a fugitive twenty years before. His sin in the deception of his father was ever before him. He knew that his long exile was the direct result of that sin. He pondered over these things day and night, an 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. EP 127.1

The thought of Esau brought troubled foreboding. Esau might be moved to violence not only by revenge, but to secure undisturbed possession of the wealth he had long looked upon as his own. EP 127.2

Again the Lord granted Jacob a token of divine care; two hosts 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 at his flight from Canaan were to be the guardians of his return. And he said, “This is God's host.” EP 127.3

Yet Jacob felt that he had something to do to secure his own safety. He therefore dispatched messengers with a conciliatory greeting to Esau. The servants were sent to “my lord Esau.” They were to refer to their master as “thy 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, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants.” EP 127.4

But no response was sent to the friendly message. It appeared certain that Esau was coming to seek revenge. Terror pervaded the camp. “Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed.” His company, unarmed and defenseless, were wholly unprepared for a hostile encounter. He sent from his vast flocks 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 Thou hast showed unto Thy servant... . Deliver me, I pray Thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.” EP 128.1

Jacob decided to spend the night in prayer, alone with God. God could soften the heart of Esau. In Him was the patriarch's only hope. EP 128.2