BBBI - 2019.05.08 - Our Faithful God Despite Our Failures (Gen. 33)

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BBBI - OT101.3 - Genesis III  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:01:08
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While Jacob falls short in his obedience, God’s goodness in Jacob’s life ensures that God’s promises will ultimately be fulfilled.

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Genesis 33:11 KJV 1900
Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.
Forgiveness, Difficulty of
Many reconciliations have broken down because both parties have come prepared to forgive and unprepared to be forgiven.515
A man named John Oglethorpe, in talking to John Wesley, once made the comment, “I never forgive.” Mr. Wesley wisely replied,
“Then, Sir, I hope that you never sin.”516 [Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 152.]
Jacob’s return to Canaan showed divine intervention with both reconciliation and a peaceful return.
God is fully capable of carrying out His promises in spite of our shortcomings.
Let God take of His “Yea”, you just worry about your own “Yea’s & Nay’s”
How faithful and gracious is God; how selfish and sinful are we!
Sub-intro- Continuing the saga of Isaac & Jacob, this story teaches both moral and theological lessons while recounting how Israel came to settle into Canaan prior to the sojourn in Egypt.

I. A Reconciled Reunion (Gen. 33:1-11)

A. Facing Danger (Gen. 33:1-7)

1. Faith Brings Courage (Gen. 33:1-3)

a. Jacob’s Favoritism (Gen. 33:1-2)

Genesis 33:1–2 KJV 1900
And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.
Note - on Esau...
Esau is mentioned by name more than eighty times in the Bible, and he is a more major actor in Genesis than we tend to realize, being named sixty times in the book. A number of important archetypes converge in Esau: he is the wild man, the dupe (dimwitted victim), the villain (a would-be murderer), the problem child, the elder child supplanted by the younger, the progenitor of a nation and the profane person who is insensitive to spiritual values. The images linked with him include his hairy skin and ruddy complexion, a proverbial “mess of pottage,” the field, the hunting of game, a cry of protest when he discovers a lifechanging deception and an embrace of a guilty brother in a famous reconciliation scene. [Ryken, Leland, Jim Wilhoit, Tremper Longman, Colin Duriez, Douglas Penney, and Daniel G. Reid. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.]

b. Jacob Out Front Now (Gen. 33:3)

Genesis 33:3 KJV 1900
And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
Note - the change in Jacob from prior to Peniel...
As Jacob passed over Jabbok in the early morn, the glittering of spears and lances in the sunlight, among the dark pine forests, betokened the approach of Esau with his four hundred men. But Jacob had nothing more to fear: the only real contest was over. It was necessary, when Jacob returned to take possession of the land and of the promises, that all that was past in his history should be past—and it was so! Never, after that night, did Jacob again contend with carnal weapons; and though the old name of Jacob reappears again and again by the side of his new designation, it was to remind both him and us that Jacob, though halting, is not dead, and that there is in us always the twofold nature, alike of Jacob and of Israel. What now followed we cannot tell better than in the words of a recent German writer: “Jacob, who in his contest with the Angel of Jehovah had prevailed by prayer and entreaty, now also prevails by humility and modesty against Esau, who comes to meet him with four hundred men.” [Edersheim, Alfred. Bible History: Old Testament. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975.]

2. Giving God Glory (Gen. 33:4-7)

Genesis 33:4–7 KJV 1900
And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept. And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant. Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves. And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.
Note - Discuss God’s Grace as seen in the OT

B. Finding Favor (Gen. 33:8-11)

1. Esau - “I Have Enough” (Gen. 33:8-9)

Genesis 33:8–9 KJV 1900
And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord. And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.

2. Jacob - “I Have Enough” (Gen. 33:10-11)

Genesis 33:10–11 KJV 1900
And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me. Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.
Note - Consider Spurgeon’s Application of these two “Having Enough”:
Gen. 33:9, 11—“Esau said, I have enough.” “Jacob said, I have enough.”
It is as rare as it is pleasing to meet with a man who has enough; the great majority are craving for more. Here we see two persons who were content. It is true they were both wealthy men, but these are often more greedy than the poor. To increase the wonder, we have here not only two men, but two brothers, and two brothers of dissimilar disposition, each saying “I have enough.” Where shall we find two brothers like them? Surely their father’s blessing was upon these contented twins. They were great wonders.
I. Here is an ungodly man who has enough.
Because Esau has other faults, there is no necessity that he should be discontented and grasping: contentment is a moral excellence as much as a spiritual grace. Unconverted men are sometimes contented with their lot in this life.
1. It is not always or often so: they are mostly a dissatisfied company.
2. It is sometimes so; as in the case of Esau.
This may arise from a want of energy.
Or from a naturally easy disposition, readily pleased.
Or from utter recklessness which only considers present pleasure.
3. It has some good points about it.
As preventing greed and the oppression which comes of it.
As often promoting a good-natured liberality, and the disposition to “live and let live.”
4. Yet it has its evil side.
It leads men to boast of their wealth or acquirements who would not do so if they were craving for more.
It tends to breed a contempt for spiritual riches.
It may thus be a sign of having one’s portion in this life.
II. Here is a godly man who has enough.
1. It is a pity that this is not true of every Christian man. Some appear to be eager after the world though they profess to be separated from it. This creates care, fretfulness, envy of heart and leanness of soul.
2. It is delightful to have enough. Contentment surpasses riches.
3. It is pleasant to have somewhat to spare for the poor; and this should be the aim of our labour: the apostle says (Eph. 4:28) “Let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
4. It is blessed to have all this through our God. Jacob said, “God hath dealt graciously with me, and I have enough.”
5. It is best of all to have all things. In the margin we read that Jacob said, “I have all things.” “All things are yours”: 1 Cor. 3:22.
All that the believer needs is promised in the Covenant.
All things in providence work together for his good.
In having God for his portion he has more than all.
Thus he has enough of strength and grace. Enough in Christ, in the Word, and in the Spirit. Enough in God’s love, power and faithfulness, and an immeasurable supply in God himself, whose name is “God All-sufficient.”
The child of God should be ashamed of discontent, since even a common sinner may be free from it.
He should be heartily satisfied; for he has all things, and what more can he desire? “O rest in the Lord”: Ps. 37:7.
A poor Christian woman, who was breaking her fast upon a crust and a cup of water, exclaimed, “What! All this and Christ too!”
A Puritan preacher asking a blessing on a herring and potatoes, said, “Lord, we thank thee that thou hast ransacked sea and land to find food for thy children.”
...“Is not the bee as well contented with feeding on the dew, or sucking from a flower, as the ox that grazeth on the mountains? Contentment lies within a man, in the heart; and the way to be comfortable is not by having our barrels filled, but our minds quieted. The contented man (saith Seneca) is the happy man.… Discontent robs a man of the power to enjoy what he possesses. A drop or two of vinegar will sour a whole glass of wine.—T. Watson.… [C. H. Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes & 2: Genesis to Malachi, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 19–20.]
Jacob’s reconciliation with God must be followed by reconciliation with his brother. Note the difference between the pre-Peniel Jacob, who brings up the rear of his company (“Pass on before me” [32:16 rsv]), and the post-Peniel Jacob, who leads the procession to Esau (“He himself went on before them” [33:3a rsv]). And not only is a new courage demonstrated, but also a new humility: “bowing himself to the ground seven times” (v. 3b nrsv). Then there is a new generosity: “Accept my present from my hand.… Please accept my gift” (vv. 10–11 nrsv). His motives in giving the gift to Esau are genuine. He no longer connives. We should also observe the transformation of some sort that Esau has experienced. The grudge-carrying, get-even Esau of ch. 27 has become the conciliatory Esau of ch. 33, and without any encounters with God to explain the change in attitude. [Hamilton, Victor P. Handbook on the Pentateuch. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.]

II. A Resistant Return (Gen. 33:12-17)

A. Potential Diversion from Promise (Gen. 33:12-15)

Genesis 33:12–15 KJV 1900
And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee. And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir. And Esau said, Let me now leave with thee some of the folk that are with me. And he said, What needeth it? let me find grace in the sight of my lord.
Note - Esau heads SW; Jacob heads NE

B. A Shepherd in Succoth (Gen. 33:16-17)

Genesis 33:16–17 KJV 1900
So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir. And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.
Note - Jacob is now beginning to “Settle down” after decades of roaming

III. Settling in Shalem (Gen. 33:18-20)

Note - about Shechem...
Shechem in biblical history had a checkered history as a religious and political center (e.g., 12:6; chap. 34; Josh 24; Judg 9; 1 Kgs 12:1, 25). R. S. Hess observes, “Thus, the seemingly contradictory themes of lawlessness and a religious center dominate the biblical texts describing Shechem.”483 In the case of Jacob, we find it appropriate that the man of moral contradictions established himself at Shechem upon arriving in Canaan. [Mathews, K. A. Genesis 11:27–50:26. Vol. 1B. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005.]

A. Following in Abraham’s Footsteps (Gen. 33:18-19)

Genesis 33:18–19 KJV 1900
And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan-aram; and pitched his tent before the city. And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money.
There, in the center of an idolatrous land, he had established a new center of worship of the true God. [Morris, Henry M. The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1976.]
God’s word, not human cunning, had prevailed. Two generations on from Abraham all the covenanted purposes of God were vested in one man, Jacob, and his sons. Was it possible that from so small and unpromising a beginning the whole world could be significantly changed? In terms of human understanding the proposition was highly unlikely, but there was dynamism in the word of the Lord, and it would not fail. Jesus saw his own ministry in a similar light; it was ‘like a grain of mustard seed, … the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all trees …’ (Mk. 4:30–32). The quiet, hidden work of God’s Spirit goes on through the centuries, embracing succeeding generations, all of which belong in his world-wide outreach and are part of a greater whole, called by Jesus ‘the kingdom of God’. Statistics cannot estimate its size, nor reckon its worth. [BST]

B. Falling Short of Vows (Gen. 33:20)

Genesis 33:20 KJV 1900
And he erected there an altar, and called it El-elohe-Israel.
Note - Discuss the Way of Atonement in the OT
Note - Discuss Jacob’s trials to come in Shechem and compare David’s trouble with Amnon, Tamar & Absalom.
Failing (Gen. 33:1–16)...
By scheming instead of trusting (vv. 1–2). The “prince with God” stopped reigning and started scheming. ...
By bowing instead of limping (vv. 3–7). ...
By pleading instead of witnessing (vv. 8–15). ... Jacob had seen God face-to-face, but he said nothing to Esau about it! ...He was made a prince, but he was acting like a pauper.5
By promising but not performing (vv. 12–17a). ...Jacob was deceiving again.... [Wiersbe, Be Authentic]
Why the halfway obedience? Professor Ian Duguid muses: “Why was that? What was Jacob doing settling down at Shechem and raising an altar when he should have been continuing on to Bethel to raise the altar there, where he had first had the dream? Did Jacob think that Shechem was a better site for trade and for his flocks? Perhaps he thought it didn’t matter. After all, Bethel was now a mere twenty miles or so away; he could go there whenever it suited him, once he got settled. Why be so precise in these things? Shechem or Bethel—it’s really all the same, isn’t it? Indeed, it is not. Whatever his motivation, Jacob’s compromise and his failure to follow through with complete obedience to what he had vowed would cost him and his family dearly, as we shall see in the following chapter. Almost obedience is never enough. Being in the right ballpark may be sufficient when watching a baseball game, but is not nearly enough when it comes to obeying God. Nothing short of full obedience is required.” ...We all understand the foolishness of halfway obedience from our life experiences. As both parents and children, we know that when a son is asked to take out the trash, his leaving it by the back door instead of in the trash barrel is unacceptable. In fact, it is disobedience because partial obedience is always disobedience. We also know that partial obedience can be dangerous, as, for example, when a child who is told not to play in the street plays alongside the roadway. Thus we insist on total obedience....It is always a delusion to imagine that we have obeyed when we have partially obeyed. And this is eternally true when dealing with God. If God has called you to leave a relationship or a plan or a pursuit or a habit, do not imagine that you have obeyed by partial disengagement. Likewise, understand that if God has called you to a specific obedience, anything less than what he has directed is disobedience. Partial obedience is always disobedience, no matter what our rationalizations are. God will not be fooled or mocked. And his sweet grace can be brutal... As we will see, Jacob would later go to Bethel humiliated and chastened—God’s relentless, tenacious, intrusive grace would have its fearsome, loving way. But how much better it would have been if Jacob had gone in the glory of his new name and new crippling—in the power of his weakness. The New Testament says it wonderfully: “And he [God] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, KJV 1900). May we remember that the crippled Jacob was the man who fought with God and prevailed. It is the strong who always lose. But in weakness there is victory.
Lord, hear our prayer:
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
George Matheson, 1882[PW, Ge]


Jacob’s return to Canaan showed divine intervention with both reconciliation and a peaceful return.
God is fully capable of carrying out His promises in spite of our shortcomings.
Let God take of His “Yea”, you just worry about your own “Yea’s & Nay’s”
How faithful and gracious is God; how selfish and sinful are we!
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