Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.


For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.  (Psalm 48;14)

Jacob started on his way again, and angels of God came to meet him. When Jacob saw them, he exclaimed, “This is God’s camp!” So he named the place Mahanaim. Mahanaim means two camps: his own camp and that of the angles. Jacob realized that he was not alone, but God was with him.


Before meeting the angels, Jacob ran away from his uncle Laban. His uncle found what Jacob did — stealing his property using Jacob’s clever scheme slowly and steadily. But Laban’s sons found what Jacob did. Through this clever scheme, Jacob became very wealthy, with large flocks of sheep and goats, female and male servants, and many camels and donkeys. Indeed, Jacob had gained all his wealth at Laban’s expense.  


Then Jacob put his wives and children on camels, and he drove all his livestock in front of him. He packed all the belongings he had acquired from Laban’s house and set out for the land of Canaan, where his father, Isaac, lived. At the time they left, Laban was some distance away, shearing his sheep. Additionally, Rachel stole her father’s household idols and took them with her without telling Laban and Jacob. Jacob outwitted Laban, for they set out secretly and never told Laban they were leaving. 


However, Jacob had one bigger problem. Jacob came to his uncle Laban’s house to flee from his brother Esau who was about to kill Jacob. Jacob stole his brother’s blessings from his father, Isaac. Jacob disguised as Esau and approached Isacc, whose eyesight was poor. To make sure, Isaac touched Esau’s hairy arm and smelled Esau’s scent, but all were a setup by Jacob. Jacob wore a hairy skin of animal and Esau’s clothes. Then Isaac gave Jacob all the blessings he had while thinking that he was giving all to Esau.  


As Jacob hurried on, finally arriving in his uncle Laban’s house located about 700 km away, Laban welcomed Jacob, and Jacob felt at home. However, Laban was as tricky as Jacob. Both had the same blood of deceiving others, and Jacob got it through his mother, Rebekah. Laban was Rebekah’s brother. By the way, Rebekah made the plan to deceive Isaac for Jacob. Jacob initially resisted. But soon, Jacob embraced the plan to steal the Isaac’s blessing reserved for the firstborn son Esau, on which Jacob was always zealous. When Jacob was born, Jacob grabbed his brother’s ankle. Jacob tried to be the firstborn even when he was in his mother’s womb.


Then Laban tricked Jacob many times to make Jacob work for him. Laban switched his younger daughter Rachel, whom Jacob loved, to his older daughter Leah on the wedding night. Then Laban asked Jacob to work seven more years for Rachel. Jacob worked full 14 years for Laban’s two daughters. Jacob never forgot this. Jacob always searched for an opportunity, and later, he made Laban back to himself. Jacob slowly and steadily transferred his uncle’s sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys to his possessions. 


Laban’s son found his deceptive plan, and Jacob realized that he could no longer be with his uncle Laban. Thus, he thought about returning home, but Esau was waiting for Jacob to kill Jacob. Jacob found no place to go due to his earthly wisdom and his own justice of paying back eye to eye and tooth to tooth instead of forgiving.


Jacob struggled and struggled. Then he returned to God, who came to him on the first night in the middle of the wilderness as he was fleeing from his brother Esau. At that time, Jacob did not know God, but God dearly loved Jacob. When God came to Jacob, Jacob was barely sleeping with his head on a rock under the night sky alone, lonely. God comforted Jacob and gave God’s covenantal promise that God had given to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac. Early in the morning the following day, Jacob worshipped God and prayed to God. It was his first prayer ever given to God authentically and honestly with all of his heart and mind. Our life storms indeed make us seek God authentically with our contrite hearts. Then God full of mercy and love always come to us to meet us, which is the true value of our life storms, although nobody welcomes life storms in one’s life. 

Jacob remembered God, who came to him when he was in distress and fear. (In fact, it was not Jacob, but God reminded Jacob in his unfailing love.)  Jacob fervently prayed to God, and God answered. God’s answer was going back home, which was a harder choice because getting killed was worse than being humiliated and paying back to Laban for what he did — stealing Laban’s sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.


However, Jacob, for this time, obeyed God. Jacob made huge progress. He did not rely on his earthly wisdom. Then Jacob expected nothing would happen onward till meeting Esau when he arrived home. It was not the case.


Three days later, Laban realized what had happened and made a hot pursuit. Laban caught up to Jacob. However, the God who dearly loved Jacob appeared in Laban’s dream the prior night and told, 


“I’m warning you—leave Jacob alone!”  (Genesis 31: 24b)


God saved Jacob from Laban. Laban could not harm Jacob, and Jacob was in fear of Laban. This is what God does to the world for His children. Sometimes we fear the world, but God has already made the world fear of us. Therefore, we can be confident in Him and stand firm on the rock of faith in Him. Our victory is always sure because He had already won the victory.


I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)


After all, Laban only blamed Jacob for his stolen idols, which Rachel took when she left Laban’s house. God again protected Jacob from Laban. As Laban searched through, Rachel hid them under her seat while claiming that he was in her period, and God made Laban accept Rachel’s excuse. Thus, Laban could not find his idols after his full and thorough search of all Jacob had. Jacob, who was still of the world, became angry, and Laban gave an apology. What a scene that God created!  We know what had happened. The two most cunning people, Jacob and Laban, could not figure out what God did. 

As we know, Laban should have had received Jacob’s apology along with Rachel.  Instead, God made Laban give an apology to Jacob. What do we see here? Isn’t it God’s omnipotent power? Whatever God wants happens in our world. The outcome in this world is always as God designed and directed for His own children, not the children of the world. Thus, we can be sure of all things in Him because God, who dearly loves, is always on our side.


There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.  (Proverbs 21:30)


Then Laban made a treaty with Jacob in fear of God. They together made a pile of stones as a witness. Then they ate together, and they spent the night on the mountain. Laban got up early the next morning, and he kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home.


God resolved Jacob’s fear of Laban, which made Jacob one less thing to worry about. However, the bigger fear was still ahead of him despite his obedience to God’s will. Jacob had to confront the bigger fear. What we see here is that accepting, believing, and obeying God’s command does not automatically eliminate all our fearsome challenges and pains. They will still be with us. 


Then what’s the difference before and after obeying and following God? The difference is that God is always with us, and He will be with us forever. The same fear in our lives of problems, challenges, and pains might still be with us. However, God uses all these things to work together for good and makes us grow into Him having a deeper relationship with Him.


And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  (Romans 8:28)


As needed, God also directly intervenes in our lives. As Jacob started on his way again, he continued deeply worrying about Esau. Then God sent angels of God to meet Jacob. Jacob rediscovered that he was not alone. As described before, he called the place where he met God “Mahanaim,” which means two camps — one for God and the other for himself. How comforting and blessed to know we are not alone in darkness without knowing where to go next!


Jacob continued his journey back home with God’s strength, where Esau was waiting to kill Jacob. On the way home, the image of his brother’s face filled with anger flashed through his brain from time to time. Whenever it happened, Jacob was truly down. But, God reminded Jacob that God was always with him regardless of how he felt or even the entire world fell on him. It was the courage and strength that God provided for Jacob, and he continued home. God always loves us and pours into our hearts his strength and courage. It is the promise of God, which will not change forever.


God guided Jacob daily step by step. Jacob came closer and closer to his home. It was also true that Jacob’s fear of Esau was increasing as getting close to home. His fear of Esau finally became so big that Jacob could not sleep throughout each night. He got up in the middle of the night in fear of Esau. One night he got an idea.


The following morning, Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother, Esau. Jacob told them, “Give this message to my master Esau:


‘Humble greetings from your servant Jacob. Until now I have been living with Uncle Laban, and now I own cattle, donkeys, flocks of sheep and goats, and many servants, both men and women. I have sent these messengers to inform my lord of my coming, hoping that you will be friendly to me.’”


After delivering the message, the messengers returned to Jacob and reported, 


“We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you—with an army of 400 men!” 


Jacob was terrified at the news. 


Jacob divided his household, along with the flocks and herds and camels, into two groups. He thought, “If Esau meets one group and attacks it, perhaps the other group can escape.”


Then Jacob prayed, 


“O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O LORD, you told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly.’ I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps! O LORD, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. But you promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count.’”


Jacob looked back and remembered what God had done to him. Then Jacob should have had given thanks to God, but Jacob’s faith in God was not at that level. Jacob clearly could see how God provided His protection and how God answered as he prayed to God. It was the first night after fleeing from Esau, and it was the first prayer to God on the first night. 


Jacob needed to secure God’s protection because he felt that he was about to be killed by Esau. Jacob received his servant’s report that Esau was coming to Jacob with an army of 400 men, and Jacob thought that Esau surely determined to kill himself.


Jacob’s only prayer was God’s protection from Esau. To make sure, Jacob even got into reasoning with God by pointing back to God’s promise that God gave to Jacob. Indeed, Jacob had forgotten God’s promise and just remembered it again as he prayed to God. For the last twenty years, Jacob lived his own life by being deceived by and deceiving Laban. However, Jacob realized that all he had was useless before his upcoming dreadful fear of Esau. Esau’s sword would cut him into two pieces in Esau’s anger caused by himself. 


Before God, Jacob realized that the only thing that Jacob could justify his own life was God’s promise, not his own righteousness. He could not boast what he did and what he earned. Nothing would save Jacob from Esau’s sword. Jacob, thus, hung on the promise that God made with Jacob — God would multiply Jacob’s descendants until Jacob’s descendants were as numerous as the sands along the seashore. Then Jacob gave his prayer to God with his true heart. Before God, Jacob spread out all in his heart, fear of Esau, hope, and trust in God and His promise. 


God comforted Jacob as Jacob prayed to God. Then Jacob selected these gifts from his possessions to present to his brother, Esau: 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 1530 female camels with their young, 40 cows, 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys, and 10 male donkeys. He divided these animals into herds and assigned each to different servants. Then he told his servants, “Go ahead of me with the animals, but keep some distance between the herds.”


He gave these instructions to the men leading the first group: 


“When my brother, Esau, meets you, he will ask, ‘Whose servants are you? Where are you going? Who owns these animals?’ You must reply, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob, but they are a gift for his master Esau. Look, he is coming right behind us.’”


Jacob gave the same instructions to the second and third herdsmen and to all who followed behind the herds: 


You must say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. And be sure to say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.’”


Jacob thought, 


“I will try to appease him by sending gifts ahead of me. When I see him in person, perhaps he will be friendly to me.” 


So Jacob sent away the gifts on ahead. However, Jacob had no courage to go with the gifts. Jacob himself spent that night in the camp. Jacob gave a thought — what would happen. Esau would kill him, but Esau had no real reason to kill all of his family after getting the huge gifts he sent. One who Esau truly wanted was to kill Jacob, not his family.  


Then, the night before the full darkness fell, he hurriedly got up and sent his two wives, two servant wives, and eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River. After taking them to the other side with all his possessions.


It left Jacob all alone in the camp. He had no courage to confront his brother Esau by crossing the river. Finally, the fear of Esau and his death was about to be materialized. If we were Jacob, what would we do?


Prayer. Yes, Jacob prayed to God. So far, Jacob prayed like a child while asking what he wanted. God gave what Jacob wanted because God loved Jacob. To God’s eye, Jacob was still a baby. However, God also wanted Jacob to grow by experiencing a deeper relationship with God rather than continuing the first relationship between a crying baby and a loving parent.


Let’s review what has happened so far. Who made the first move when Jacob was in trouble for the first time in his life? God, or Jacob? God did. God made an advance to Jacob, which made Jacob pray for the first time in his life to God. Later, Jacob remembered God as he was getting into another big trouble with Laban. Jacob prayed to God even without God’s advance to Jacob. Then God answered Jacob’s prayer. However, God’s answer was a harder choice — returning home and Esau, waiting to kill Jacob. If Jacob got this kind of God’s answer initially, Jacob would have flatly rejected it. Jacob made huge progress. Now, Jacob followed God regardless of what God asked to do was not good to his eye. 


Then what happened?  All things suddenly became great. No. Jacob thought that he avoided Laban by leaving secretly, but Laban found out three days later. Then Laban made a hot pursuit, which terrified Jacob. Jacob thought that it was the end of his life. However, God intervened by warning Laban not to harm Jacob in Laban’s dream the previous night. God saved Jacob, who followed God’s command despite his earthly wisdom telling differently. That was not all. Rachel stole Laban’s idols, but God made Laban not find the idols. Again, God protected Jacob, who faithfully followed God’s command despite his fear of returning home due to Esau. God even made Laban give an apology to Jacob, which led to a treaty with Jacob. Yes, God was with Jacob, and God lifted Jacob before Laban. Laban blessed Jacob and his family before leaving, which was God’s will. God is in charge of all things, and He gave the best to His children – Jacob and us.


Jacob continued his journey following God’s command. Jacob’s fear was real, and he could not take it off from his mind. God knew Jacob’s struggle. Then God once again sent angels to encourage and give strength to Jacob. God loves His children and protects His children. God also provides Godly wisdom to His children. Jacob wisely sent three lavishly prepared gifts first, and then he sent his family and his possessions.


However, Jacob’s wisdom was limited. He could not figure out how to confront Esau, who would surely kill Jacob due to his past sin of deceiving Isaac and stealing Esau’s blessing. Jacob was left alone, directly facing what he had done to Esau before. It was a dark night, and Jacob prayed. His prayer was not like any of his prayers given to God before. His prayer was in pure desperation about life. Jacob prayed and prayed till he truly got God’s guidance. Why did Jacob get into this desperate situation alone, lonely? The answer is that God dearly loved Jacob. We will see how God’s love panned out next week. 


One thing that we can say clearly is that with the same love, God loves us. God dearly loved Jacob, and God loves us today with the same love that God gave to Jacob because Jacob and we are equally His beloved children.


Nearer, My God, to Thee

By Sarah F. Adams


  1. Nearer, my God, to thee,

Nearer to thee!

E’en though it be a cross

That raiseth me.

Still all my song shall be

Nearer, my God, to thee,

Nearer, my God, to thee,

Nearer to thee!


  1. Though like the wanderer,

The sun gone down,

Darkness be over me,

My rest a stone,

Yet in my dreams I’d be

Nearer, my God, to thee,

Nearer, my God, to thee,

Nearer to thee!


  1. There let the way appear,

Steps unto heav’n;

All that thou sendest me,

In mercy giv’n;

Angels to beckon me

Nearer, my God, to thee,

Nearer, my God, to thee,

Nearer to thee!


  1. Then with my waking thoughts

Bright with thy praise,

Out of my stony griefs

Bethel I’ll raise;

So by my woes to be

Nearer, my God, to thee,

Nearer, my God, to thee,

Nearer to thee!


  1. Or if, on joyful wing

Cleaving the sky,

Sun, moon, and stars forgot,

Upward I fly,

Still all my song shall be

Nearer, my God, to thee,

Nearer, my God, to thee,

Nearer to thee!



At the top of the stairway stood the LORD, and he said, “I am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. … One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”  (Genesis 22:13-15)

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