Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 88

Theme: Sanctification (Part 7)

(Key Chapters: Gen 33 and Gen 36)

Jacob was initially described in the scriptures as a deceiver and manipulator, but in the process of serving Laban for twenty years for his two daughters and securing a flock of animals for himself, Jacob is taken through a process of sanctification to become a type of the true servant of God, Jesus Christ. The theme of sanctification helps us to see how we are positioned by God to take up the proper place to be of service to God and His church, and to all in the first Adam eventually (Act 26:13-18; 1Co 12:4-7; 1Co 6:2-3; 1Pe 2:9; Rev 20). This includes the process whereby the old man in us is being supplanted by the new man in Jesus Christ (Rom 5:10-21; 2Co 5:15-17; Col 1:13). This is the prayer and purpose of Jesus for His elect in this age (Rom 15:15-16; Eph 5:26-27; 2Ti 2:21):

Joh 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
Joh 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Joh 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Jacob fled Haran to get away from his uncle, Laban, and to get back into the land God promised to Abraham and his offspring. But in this process of being sanctified from his old nature, Jacob still found himself and his family on the east side of the river Jordan where he is preparing for a confrontation with his twin brother, Esau. Before Jacob wrestled with God in the form of “a man” when he was alone at the river Jabbok in the night, he thought it best to first appease Esau with several gifts (Gen 32:13-15). Within this time of wrestling, the Lord prevailed in the end as He touched “the hollow of [Jacob’s] thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint causing a permanent limp in his walk (Gen 32:24-32). This limp symbolizes the dramatic shift in Jacob’s way of approaching Esau, from his dependence on his old manipulative nature toward the fear of God, as he now trusts God’s word to him and his desire to do what is right in God’s eyes (2Co 12:9; 1Co 2:3-5; Php 4:13). At this place, which Jacob then named Peniel, Jacob’s name was also changed to Israel. From being a deceiver and manipulator, Jacob’s old nature is being supplanted by the symbol of this new name Israel also, which means “a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed”:

Gen 32:27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
Gen 32:28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
Gen 32:29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
Gen 32:30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
Gen 32:31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.

Having seen God face to face, Jacob is now being armed with a new approach to life, as he will now face his brother Esau having his outlook now lifted up to see beyond his human abilities or limitations. Jacob also made a special arrangement concerning the order in which his family was to face Esau and his men. His beloved wife Rachel and his son with her, Joseph, were placed right at the back for special protection:

Gen 33:1 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.
Gen 33:2 And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.

But instead of others and his presents going before him, this time Jacob placed himself at the front to face Esau first, as true leadership requires. Jacob’s gifts to appease Esau have also now turned to symbols of reconciliation as he completely humbled himself when he bowed seven times to Esau (seven is the symbol of completeness in spiritual terms):

Gen 33:3 And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

Jacob bowing seven times to Esau is also showing us spiritually how we should see ourselves while living in this fleshly body. God created this earthly life for us to be an evil experience to teach us humility and to see Him as the only Source of true spirit life:

Ecc 1:13 (CLV) I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it.

God’s elect is the first to learn this wisdom and God’s plan to take all in Adam through this process as we learn to see our own proud flesh:

Pro 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

Pro 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
Pro 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
Pro 6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
Pro 6:19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

But these encounters with our old man will always reveal things we ourselves were not even aware of as this meeting between Jacob and Esau also shows. It was quite different to what Jacob expected it to be:

Gen 33:4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.

Instead of open hatred and animosity, Esau was seemingly very glad to see Jacob. The mind of our old man is devoid of the truth of a matter and only goes on what its natural senses can feed it. This flesh and its deceitful heart have a way to hide its own pride under a guise of false humility and shallow repentance to gain favour with others (Jer 17:9; 1Ti 6:3-5):

Pro 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Col 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.

God’s elect also suffers in their appointed time under the dominion of this mind-set which conjures up all kinds of false perceptions about others, forgetting its own deceitfulness. Jumping to our own conclusions just based on our carnal observations is not a wise thing to do. The outward display of flesh is not where our attention should be, because the war is spiritual and far beyond what our natural senses can perceive:

Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Our enemy is much more subtle, and this growth in our understanding of the spiritual warfare which we are involved in develops only over a period of time and through much tribulations (Luk 21:19; Act 14:22; Rev 14:9-12). On the surface Esau indeed displayed a different attitude, and there was no visible hostility present with him. In the twenty years since they last saw each other, many things have changed in their lives. For Esau it was indeed a surprise to see Jacob’s big family as they also showed great humbleness towards Esau:

Gen 33:5 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.
Gen 33:6 Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves.
Gen 33:7 And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.

Esau was also amazed at Jacob’s huge riches in animals and Jacob’s ability to even make a presentation of gifts to him:

Gen 33:8 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.

Jacob was also unaware that Esau himself was blessed by God as Isaac also promised to Esau that he will also prosper when the yoke of Jacob will be broken. This is the blessing Isaac gave to Esau:

Gen 27:38 And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.
Gen 27:39 And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above;
Gen 27:40 And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.

Esau has now seemingly accepted his fate of not having the inheritance of the firstborn as he was indeed living by “the fatness of the earth” and was a very prosperous man on his own with no physical needs:

Gen 33:9 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.

In these words we first notice the signs of pride as the flesh in us matures first to establish huge kingdoms and rulers in the earth (Gen 4:17; Gen 10:11; Gen 11;1-4; Gen 13:12; Gen 23:10; Gen 24:10; Gen 36:1-43). The flesh is also blessed by God with temporary blessings, and it cannot see that it is actually ensnared or swallowed up by the earth in this regard (Numbers 16). The spirit of the world in us is indeed filled with its pride and lusts from its creation (Gen 3:6; 1Jn 2:16). At this point in time, Jacob wanted to give Esau gifts as a token of his gratitude that Esau accepted him and his family and to reconcile with him, even as we should all follow peace with all men (Rom 12:18; Heb 12:14). This reconciliatory gift was eventually accepted by Esau after much convincing from Jacob:

Gen 33:10 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.
Gen 33:11 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.

Jacob could see that this occasion was worked by God as seeing God “face to face” at Peniel prepared Jacob for this meeting with Esau. Esau now actually wanted to give Jacob and his family protection during their journey to where Esau lived in Seir:

Gen 33:12 And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee.

But Jacob declined the offer respectfully as this is also a lesson to show that the elect of God will never allow the flesh to dictate the direction and the terms or conditions to live by. But Jacob was also considering the weak and tender among his family and animals as this also shows how the mature will be patient with those who are still weak in the faith:

Gen 33:13 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.

It is also important to note that Jacob lead the way for the weak and tender among the flock and the humans with him:

Gen 33:14 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.

Although Jacob was adjusting his pace to the weak in his flock, it is clear that he did not allow the weak to determine the direction they travelled. The mature in faith will never allow the weak in faith to dispute the true doctrine of Christ, even as they receive them with what they can handle:

Rom 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
Rom 14:2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

The road of sanctification is indeed in service to others as well, as we are positioned by God to bear the burdens of others, even if it takes the longer and patient route (Eph 4:1-3):

Gen 33:15 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.
Gen 33:16 So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir.

We read in the scriptures that Esau and his three wives with their children and all his riches eventually moved out of Canaan to live in a mountainous area in Seir. There was not enough space for Jacob and Esau to live in Canaan eventually because of the riches they both possessed (Gen 30:43):

Gen 36:6 And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob.
Gen 36:7 For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle.
Gen 36:8 Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir [Hebrew: “śê‛ı̂yr” = rough; from “śâ‛ı̂yr” = hairy/shaggy/he-goat]: Esau [Hebrew: ‛êśâv = hairy/rough] is Edom [Hebrew: “’ĕdôm” = red].

Seir, like Esau, has in its meaning the concepts of being hairy and rugged. This all links to Esau as this region was also called “Edom” which relates to the colour red. This was the colour of Esau that was mentioned when he was birthed from Rebekah, and this name was also given to him when he wanted the red pottage by which he despised his birthright (Gen 25:25; Gen 36:1-6). All of this also links to the first Adam which in the Hebrew meaning of the name relates to the colour red and being ruddy (Gen 25:24-25; Gen 25:30). We discover more about the heart of Esau and that of his offspring through the words of the prophet Obadiah, “the servant of the Lord”, when he also reveals so much about Esau and these Edomites in us:

Oba 1:1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.
Oba 1:2 Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.

Why does God despise Esau and his offspring so much, and why are we told to rise up in battle against them (Mal 1:2-3; Rom 9:13). Here are the reasons why:

Oba 1:3 The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?
Oba 1:4 Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.
Oba 1:5 If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?
Oba 1:6 How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!

The flesh is a marred and deluded creation of God and it is filled with pride and lusts to please self above all else (Pro 6:16-19; 2Th 2:3-4). This natural man of flesh in us also hates to be exposed by the light of God (Joh 1:9-11; Joh 3:19-20; 2Th 2:8). All the allies of the flesh are also deceived and in their mutual hatred they rejoice in the judgement which falls on the elect of God (Psa 2:1-2; Psa 137:7). But flesh and carnality with its fleshly wisdom, pride and lusts, like all Edomites in us, will be humbled and eventually totally destroyed, as will all death in us (Rom 8:6-8; 1Co 15:26; Rev 21:4):

Oba 1:7 All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.
Oba 1:8 Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?
Oba 1:9 And thy mighty men, O Teman [a grandson of Esau], shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.
Oba 1:10 For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.

As Edom relates to the first man Adam, the kings of Edom also link to the first rulership and dominion of the flesh over us through its strongholds of pride and lusts (2Co 10:3-5; 2Jn 2:16). The Edomites were more advanced in physical terms than Jacob and his offspring for a long time in the history of these two nations. Esau and his offspring, for example, had kings long before Jacob (Israel) and his family had any king ruling over them (Gen 36:31-39; 1Ch 1:43-55):

Gen 36:31 And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.

God indeed promised to Abraham that there will be kings from his own offspring through Isaac and Jacob ruling in Canaan, but this was long after the nations around them, including Edom, already had kings (Gen 17:5-8; 1Sa 8:4-5). This promise of kings from his loins was confirmed to Jacob at a later stage by God at Bethel just before the death of Rachel and the birth of his twelfth son, Benjamin:

Gen 35:9 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.
Gen 35:10 And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.
Gen 35:11 And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins.

It is through the last Adam, Jesus Christ, that the spiritual kingdom is established in us to overcome the earthly kingdoms eventually. This rulership over flesh has been given firstly to the elect of God who will indeed not only have dominion over the flesh in themselves inwardly, but will do that outwardly in the thousand year reign in earth, and have rulership in the next spiritual age in the lake of fire (Rom 6:6-14; Revelation 20). This double portion indeed belongs to God’s spiritually firstborn, even through Jesus Christ and all in Him, who is the hated of those in the flesh (Deu 21:15-17). With this truth in mind we can see why the flesh will never be an ally of the spirit, but always will be in opposition and why these two nations symbolized by Esau and Jacob will also struggle within us (Gen 25:20-23; Rev 12:1-17).

Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Our flesh will not assist us when we want to get redeemed from sin, sinful habits and false doctrines. This was typically seen when the physical nation of Israel wanted a peaceful thoroughfare through Edom when Israel came out of Egypt to get to the promised land. But this was their answer after Moses’s peaceful request to them (Num 20:14-17):

Num 20:18 And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword.
Num 20:19 And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing any thing else, go through on my feet.
Num 20:20 And he said, Thou shalt not go through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand.
Num 20:21 Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him.

The pride-filled mockery and laughter for Israel’s calamities is also what Jacob and his offspring constantly experienced from the Edomites for which God judged them eventually (Ezekiel 35, 36). Throughout the history of Israel the relationship between them and Edom (also called “mount Seir”, “Idumea”, “Bozrah”, “Teman” and “Selah”) was not a friendly one at all (Jos 24:4; 2Ki 14:7; Isa 63:1; Eze 34:6; Eze 35:1-15; 2Ch 20:22; Isa 34:5; Isa 63:1-4; Jer 49:17). This constant battle in us was also typified when the first two kings of Israel fought against Edom and other earthly kingdoms, but eventually they all crumbled under king David, even as those in Edom were made servants by David, pointing to the ultimate rulership of the spiritual kingdom of God in us (Oba 1:17-21):

1Sa 14:47 So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them.

2Sa 8:13 And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of the Syrians in the valley of salt, being eighteen thousand men.
2Sa 8:14 And he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom put he garrisons, and all they of Edom became David’s servants. And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.

These dynamics are now also involved even in the new relationship being established between Jacob and Esau. But Jacob and his people did not plan to go to Seir at that time. They rather chose to stay in a place called Succoth, still on the east side of the river Jordan:

Gen 33:17 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 [Hebrew: “booths”].

Then Jacob moved to Shalem, which means safe or peaceful in Hebrew. This place was outside the city of Shechem in Canaan. Jacob was now back in Canaan where he erected an altar to the mighty God who protected and provided for him and his offspring:

Gen 33:18 And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.
Gen 33:19 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.
Gen 33:20 And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel [the mighty God of Israel].

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Want let op julle roeping, broeders: julle is nie baie wyse na die vlees nie, nie baie magtiges, nie baie edeles nie; maar wat dwaas is by die wêreld, het God uitverkies om die wyse te beskaam; en wat swak is by die wêreld, het God uitverkies om wat sterk is, te beskaam; en wat onedel is by die wêreld en wat verag is, het God uitverkies, en wat niks is nie, om wat iets is, tot niet te maak, sodat geen vlees voor Hom sou roem nie. (1Kor 1:26-29)
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