The Lord First

Genesis 32:1‑20  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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 28:1). 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 32:23).
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.