The Lord First

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Genesis 32:1-201And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim. 3And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now: 5And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight. 6And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him. 7Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; 8And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape. 9And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: 10I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. 11Deliver 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. 12And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude. 13And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother; 14Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams, 15Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals. 16And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove. 17And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee? 18Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob's; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he is behind us. 19And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him. 20And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me. (Genesis 32:1‑20)
Jacob started out again on his way to return to Canaan. It was not, however, going to be an easy path, for when we are away from the Lord, the way back is sometimes quite difficult, though there is blessing at the end. Here the angels of God met him. God was still caring for His wayward child and leading him step by step to the place where He would have him. But Jacob had to meet his brother Esau, whom he had treated so badly, and this made him very un­easy. If you have wronged someone, dear reader, be assured you will never be happy in your soul until the matter is cleared up. This long period of twenty years did not change it, and Jacob, conscious of his guilt and for­getting the unchanging grace of God, speaks of Esau as “my lord.” Yes, he was afraid of Esau, for we always lose the enjoyment of our standing in grace when we allow such things as Jacob did in our own lives. We will be afraid of the world, if we do not walk to please the Lord. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:11The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1)). If we want to have that holy bold­ness before God and men, we must learn to judge anything in our lives that is displeasing to the Lord and walk uprightly before Him. When we try to cover things up, or pass over them lightly, we will soon find the truth of God’s Word, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:2323But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23)).
Fearing God Over Man
Jacob had never really been before God about what he had done, and in his usual scheming way he decided to send a present to Esau in order to find favor in his sight. He got everything well arranged, but he was still “greatly afraid and distressed.” It is always that way when we try to settle things in our own way without a full confes­sion before the Lord. Two wrongs never make a right, and it is useless to try to undo our mistakes in any other way than God’s way, which is to get into His presence admitting all to Him.
After Jacob had made all his plans, he then asked God to bless them. How often we do the same thing! He should have prayed first, and then the Lord would have shown him what to do, taking away his fear of Esau too. He knew God as the God of Abraham and Isaac — blessed fact — but He was also the God of Jacob, though Jacob did not lay hold of that. He was thinking of himself and his own unworthiness, and although he spoke of God’s promises in his prayer, he did not confide in them. He feared Esau more than he feared God. So it is when we are away from the Lord, for we have our eyes on self and on the difficulties instead of just trusting the God of all grace.
Living for Him
What a large present of goats, rams, camels, cows and other animals he was going to give Esau, but in the past twenty years of Jacob’s life we never read of him giving one thing to the Lord. Surely this should be a les­son for us. Are you, dear reader, start­ing out in life thinking entirely of your own interests? If the Lord leaves you here, are you going to have to look back on twenty, or perhaps more, wasted years? If you are really one of His own, you can never be lost, and His grace will follow you as it did Jacob, but if you want to have a use­ful life for the Lord Jesus who has done so much for you, then begin today to live for Him. You will never regret having put the Lord first.
Further Meditation
1. Why was Jacob afraid of Esau?
2. What does it mean to “live in the fear of man”? How does this get us into trouble?
3. You can find a nice, simple quote on “the fear of God” by going to and doing a Library Search for Article Number 88248.