In Genesis chapter 30, Rachel, in grief for her barrenness, gives Bilhah her maid unto Jacob. Bilhah bears Dan and Naphtali. Leah gives Zilpah her maid, who bears Gad and Asher. Reuben finds mandrakes, with which Leah buys her husband’s company of Rachel. Leah bears Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah. Rachel bears Joseph. Jacob desires to depart. Laban detains him on a new agreement. Jacob’s policy, whereby he becomes rich.
In Genesis chapter 31, Jacob, displeased with the envy of Laban and his sons, departs secretly. Rachel steals her father’s images. Laban pursues after him, and complains of the wrong. Rachel’s plan to hide the images. Jacob’s complaint of Laban. The covenant of Laban and Jacob at Galeed.
In Genesis chapter 32, Jacob’s vision at Mahanaim. His message to Esau. He is afraid of Esau’s coming. He prays for deliverance. He sends a present to Esau, and passes the brook Jabbok. He wrestles with an angel at Peniel, where he is called Israel. He halts.
Insights and Prayers
Rachel was frustrated because Leah had children and she didn’t. Rachel’s desire was appropriate, but her motives were wrong; she was jealous of Leah (30:1). She should have directed her prayers to God.
- Lord, forgive me for asking humans for the things I should ask of You. Give me a wholly focused trust in You and Your power to do the things I ask. Focus my prayers on You. Amen.
Do we ever pray with wrong motives? Have we ever prayed with a jealous motive, but God hears the content of your prayer to give us what we ask, even when we had a deceitful heart? Yes! That was true of Rachel. She seemed to act like a spoiled child to get her way. “I’ll let you sleep with him (Jacob) tonight in exchange for the mandrake roots” (30:15). Rachel prayed for a son and God answered her prayer.
- Lord, forgive me for every inappropriate prayer I’ve made with wrong motives. May Your will be done in my life. Look beyond the words I pray and give me Your perfect will for my life. Amen.
God should not have blessed Jacob because he had a habit of “tricking” people to get what he wanted. His stew got him the birthright. He got the blessing from his father Isaac. Now he used questionable breeding tricks for his flocks to prosper and diminish the flocks of Laban. Why would God bless Jacob? It was not because of his deceptive ways. Instead God blessed Jacob for His own sovereign purposes which are not always understood by humans.
- Lord, when I’ve been deceptive, forgive me. Bless me according to Your sovereign purpose, and for Your sovereign glory. I don’t always understand what You’re doing in my life, but I submit to it. Bless me for Your glory. Amen.
Two things motivated Jacob to return to his family home.
First, he heard threatening rumors about his father-in-law, Laban.
Second, God told Jacob to return to his homeland.
God reminded Jacob, “I am the God of Bethel where you poured oil on a stone pillar and made a vow to me” (31:13). Sometimes we must be reminded of our vow to God, then immediately go about keeping our promises to God. Jacob instructed his wives and children, packed up his belongings and then left for the Promised Land. When God reminds us of a promise we made to him in the past, we must obey and immediately make preparations to do what God told us.
- Lord, my memory is not perfect; forgive me when I’ve not done anything I promised to do. My actions also are not perfect; forgive me if I have not done completely anything I promised to do. Today, I will do what You tell me to do. Amen.
Jacob was rooted in fear; he would meet his brother the next day who 20 years earlier had threatened to kill him (27:41). Does being scared motivate us to pray more fervently than ever before?
- Lord, remind me to pray when I’m afraid, and remind me to cover all my sins and trespasses against persons by the blood of Christ. Amen.
Jacob reminds God that he is in the line of Abraham (32:9), and then Jacob reminds God that He was obeying His command to return home to face trouble (32:9).
- Lord, I don’t count on my prayer persistence, nor my faith, not any other reasons. I count on Your character for my answers. Amen.
Jacob couldn’t deny his old nature to “trick” his brother again. He separated himself to pray all night, but left his wife and children on the other side of the river. Then he divided his wives, children, flocks (wealth), to meet Esau in successive waves (is this a peace offering to save his life?). In case one group is destroyed, at least Jacob could flee. Was this common sense, fear, or trickery?
- Lord, help me use my common sense to find Your will, and help me apply common sense to my prayers. Yet I know sometimes I must go beyond normal expectations, to trust You for supernatural answers to prayer. Amen.
Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of day” (32:24). This seems to be “wordless” praying, for sometimes we pray without words. Isn’t prayer a relationship with God? And sometimes isn’t prayer wrestling with God?
- Lord, when great issues are at stake, I will wrestle with You until I get an answer. Give me faith to know when to wrestle with You, and when to surrender to You. Amen.
Bible Summary – Adapted from The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge by R. A. Torrey
Insights and Prayers – Adapted from The Prayer Bible