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.



The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions. (Proverbs 28:1)




Jacob finally crossed the Jabbok River the following morning. He was limping because of the injury from the last night’s wrestling match. He was in server pain, but his face was radiating like that of an angel. His face was filled with hope and thanksgiving in faith. 


He thought he could cross the Jabbok River with all his large family, eleven sons, and his huge possessions. What a contrast!  When he left home, he was alone with nothing but his staff in his hand. He was in fear and desperation. But God, who loved Jacob unconditionally without merit, was with Jacob.


As Jacob barely got into his sleep in the middle of the wilderness, laying his head on a rock under the cold night sky, God came to Jacob’s dream and showed a vision of angels climbing up and down a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. At the top of the stairway stood God. Then God blessed Jacob with the same covenant given to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac — to be the father of great nations and the source of blessings for all people. God also comforted Jacob by telling, 


“I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go.”  (Genesis 28: 15b) 


Jacob truly met God for the first time and saw the awesomeness of God. Jacob was extremely comforted by “I am with you and will protect you wherever you go.”  God also promised,


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 28:15c)


What else did Jacob need at that time?  God, who created heaven and earth, guaranteed Jacob’s safe return. Jacob got up early the following morning, built an altar, and worshiped God. Then he prayed to God for the first time in his life.  

Jacob did not know how and what to pray to God, but he authentically told God every concern, fear, and hope in his mind. God carefully listened to what Jacob said. Before ending his prayer, Jacob, who was still of the world, made a deal with God –  if God  would do everything for him as God told so, then he would build a permanent place for worshiping God at the same place, and he would give a tenth of everything God blessed Jacob.  


In fact, Jacob’s prayer was the worst example of prayer – which was exactly how we should not pray to God. After all, Jacob was like a baby to God, and God loved to hear Jacob’s gibberish prayer to God as parents love to hear their baby’s talk, which is equally gibberish though. But God was pleased with Jacob.


Then God protected Jacob throughout the 700 km journey through wildernesses and foreign countries. Many dangers came to him, but God kept all dangers from hurting Jacob. Jacob hurriedly to his uncle’s place without encountering dangers because God’s hand eliminated all dangers even before coming to Jacob as all parents do to their baby just crawling.


Jacob should have recognized what God did for him when he arrived at his uncle Laban’s house, but he didn’t. Then, Jacob continued living the same life as he did when he was home.


God kept giving opportunities to experience who God was, but Jacob focused on how to win in this world by competing against others with his cunning smartness. He again deceived his uncle Laban and his uncle’s sons. Jacob accumulated his huge wealth at his uncle Laban’s expense. Laban and Laban’s sons soon realized Jacob’s deception, and Jacob again could not stay with Laban any longer. 


However, Jacob could not leave Laban’s house and fled back home. His brother Esau was waiting for Jacob’s return to kill Jacob because Jacob stole Esau’s blessing. Jacob came to his father Isaac by disguising as Esau. Isaac was old and his eyesight was poor. Then Isaac gave all blessings saved for Esau as his firstborn son to Jacob. Esau became furious, knowing this fact, and decided to kill Jacob. It was the reason why Jacob hurriedly fled to his uncle’s house, which was 700km away.


Then Jacob realized that there was no place to go except God. Jacob prayed to God fervently by telling all things — concern, fear, and hope. He truly wanted to continue living with all he had without getting killed by Esau. Then God answers. God asked to return home where Esau was waiting to kill Jacob. 


God asked Jacob to do something that he would not be able to do — returning to Esau, who surely would kill Jacob. Of course, Jacob struggled the night, but he decided to hold tight to what God told him that night.


“Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there, and I will be with you.” (Genesis 31:3b)


Jacob started believing somehow God would save him from Esau’s hand.  Jacob recited again and again God’s promise that God would be with him. After all, what is faith?  Isn’t faith that despite our knowledge and understanding, we trust God and His promise in hope in God?


The following morning, he departed home with two wives, eleven sons, and his huge possessions, but he did not tell Laban. He left secretly in fear of Laban and his sin of deceiving his uncle.


Laban became even more furious as he found that Jacob left without telling a single word with his two daughters, his eleven grandchildren, and the stolen wealth. From Laban’s view, all that Jacob had was his because Jacob came with an empty hand. In his fury, Laban decided to kill Jacob. Laban just launched a hot pursuit. Jacob ended up making two enemies: Laban and Esau, and both truly wanted to kill Jacob.


God was carefully watching what was happening in Jacob’s life because Jacob was His precious son. Laban was about to catch up with Jacob. Out of his pure fury, Laban firmly decided to kill Jacob with his sword. For Jacob, God intervened by warning Laban not to harm Jacob in Laban’s dream, 


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


Please see how much God loved Jacob, His beloved child, and what God does for Jacob.  Out of His love, God made Laban scared.  Laban could not do anything to Jacob. God saved Jacob behind the scene. As our baby do not know what we parents did for them, Jacob did not know what God had done. 


Laban faced Jacob. Laban was completely sacred by God, and only blamed Jacob for his lost idols. Indeed, his daughter Rachel stole the idols. God did one more favor for Jacob. God made Laban unable to find the stolen idols although he thoroughly searched through Jacob’s household. Then Laban apologized, and Jacob became very angry. We know the truth what really happened. 


Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. (Psalm 37:8-9)


After all, we should not feel we are so righteous when all that we have done look righteous to our eyes. We should remember God, who is always with us and protects us. We’d better be humble before God and other humans. We don’t know for us God made others suffer instead of us although we have to suffer. Thus, being humble always to God and other humans is our way to magnify His glory and God’s goodness on earth. If Jacob had kindly responded to Laban, how would Laban have responded to Jacob and God?


One more: what can we see from Jacob’s anger? His spiritual immaturity before God and other humans. In other words, Jacob was not yet ready for God’s covenant. If we are prone to angry, then we should know that we are not yet ready. A lot of God’s interventions in our lives are waiting for us.


God kept loving Jacob, and Jacob kept forgetting God’s mercy and grace on Jacob. Even so, Jacob was slowly becoming the person that God wanted, which is quite similar to our journey with God on earth. Jacob prayed more often to God, which was one big sign of Jacob’s spiritual growth. 


Yes, we can always be sure that God is always with us no matter how we actually love God because God loves us as His eternal child. God will not stop giving His love and protection. At the same time, God continues working to make us grow deeper in Him as God did to Jacob.


God protected Jacob from Laban, and God made Laban give an apology and then even bless Jacob and all his family. Receiving Laban’s blessing, Jacob continued his way home. What a difference between his initial flee from home and his return now.  Esau was furious and tried to kill Jacob, and Laban was also furious with Jacob and tried to kill Jacob. However, for this time, God turned Laban’s fury into blessing.



Jacob went on with his family and all of his possessions, but his fear of Esau was becoming stronger as getting closer to home. Jacob, who was one of the cleverest on earth at the time, still relied on his wisdom. He sent messengers to test Esau’s heart. However, as soon as Esau got the message from Jacob, Esau left with an army of 400 men to meet Jacob.


As hearing it through his messengers, Jacob was terrified. He felt that Esau would surely kill Jacob. The evidence was Esau’s coming with an army of 400 men. Using his earthly wisdom, he divided his household along with the flocks and herds and camels into two groups. He prepared. When Esau attacked one group, the other group could flee. However, soon Jacob realized whatever he did would not save him and his household from Esau coming with an army of 400 men for his revenge.

Then Jacob in desperation came to God and prayed. (Indeed, it was God who made Jacob pray by lining up a series of events because God loved Jacob.) Jacob spread out all his concerns and fears to God. After his initial prayer, Jacob felt that it was not enough. Then Jacob pleaded to God by telling back God’s covenant that Jacob would become the father of many nations and the source of blessings to all. God’s covenant suddenly became the only hope for Jacob to save his life. Jacob hung on the covenant. Would Jacob possibly embrace the covenant if he had no threat like Esau? No. He would have had cursed through his life as he used to.


Indeed, Jacob was in the extreme fear of Esau, who would certainly kill him with an army of 400 men. To Jacob, Esau’s response was a disaster. In fact, it was the moment that Jacob started to embrace God’s covenant as a part of his life!


After his prayer, Jacob was somewhat comforted, but he was not 100% sure of his safety. Jacob still relied on his earthly wisdom and sent three batches of his lavish gifts to Esau. Jacob used everything that he could use — his worldly wisdom as well as God.  How about us?  Do we still cling to both our wisdom and God even after praying to God authentically with our contrite hearts?


Even so, Jacob made huge progress from God’s point of view. However, It was true to God’s eye, Jacob was not yet ready to be the heir of God’s covenant.


Finally, Jacob felt that he was ready. He prayed to God and he made excellent plan for Esau by sending three baches of lavish gifts to Esau. Jacob attempted to cross the river with his family and the rest of his huge possessions. But he could not cross the Jabbok River because his fear of Esau was greater than all that he did – prayer to God and his lavish gifts to Esau. He made all but himself cross the Jabbok River, and he left alone on the other side of the Jabbok River.


All of his wisdom, his wealth, and even his own family did not matter to him as he was about to confront his own death. Jacob again came to conclusion that none could save except God. Then he humbly came back to God and prayed. Suddenly, a man came and wrestled with Jacob. Jacob wrestled until the dawn began to break — Jacob’s final battle with his sin that he committed twenty years ago against Esau, Isaac, his father, and to God.


Jacob could not release the man. Knowing this, the man touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me,” which was Jacob’s desperate prayer while wresting with the man. It was Jacob’s most authentic prayer to God with a contrite heart.


Then God replied, 


“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”  (Genesis 32:28)



God gave a new name, Israel, to Jacob. God chose his grandfather, and changed his grandfather’s name from Abram to Abraham. That is the father of one nation to the father of many nations. What Jacob needed was a complete transformation of Jacob himself into a completely new person. As the sign of the complete transformation, God gave a new name, “Israel.” Since then, all of Jacob’s descendants became Israelites. It was also the sign of God’s love of forgiving Jacob’s past sin and opening of the new era of Israel for the new Jacob, and his descendants. 


God also gave one more mark that Jacob could not forget forever the encounter with God on that night. God made Jacob limp by touching his hip socket and wrenching it out of its socket. Surely, it gave severe pain to Jacob, but it was God’s love mark. Whenever Jacob stood up and walked after the night, he remembered what God did to him. God eliminated from Jacob the human fragility of forgetting God’s grace, mercy, and love. Jacob could not forget God and especially his wrestling match throughout the night. It was the secret that only Jacob truly appreciated for the rest of life.  


As crossing the Jabbok River, Jacob saw Esau coming with his 400 men. So Jacob divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and his two servant wives. He put the servant wives and their children at the front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. Then Jacob went on ahead. Yes, Jacob was at the front and led his family with all of his possessions. What a difference that one night made! Jacob wrestled without ceasing in prayer throughout the night, and God answered. Jacob bravely led all his family without fearing Esau and an army of 400 men with God’s strength while trusting God. 


As Jacob approached his brother, Esau, he bowed to the ground seven times before Esau. It was not just a cunning behavior of Jacob as he used to do. It was a true confession of his sin, deceiving and stealing Esau’s blessing. Jacob was ready for anything from Esau because He already gave everything to God. From then on, it was God, not himself, who was truly living in his life. He gave all to God. Thus, he was able to be strong and courageous even before the imminent death. Jacob knew Esau would kill him, and he was ready for it with God. Before truly meeting God, Jacob could not confront it, but now Jacob could face his final death with God with the strength that God provided.


After repenting his sin to Esau by bowing to the ground seven times, Jacob waited because he did everything he could do. Then he waited for the next step to which God would lead him. Of course, Jacob did not stop praying to God. He completely gave himself up to God, and Jacob waited and waited.  



Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.


It was completely unexpected. It was opposite from Jacob’s expectation. Jacob always believed that Esau would kill him as soon as Esau saw him. It was not true.  God had already changed the heart of Esau, but Jacob was always in the prison that he created – Esau would kill him. He lived more than twenty years in the self-made jail in fear of Esau, who would surely kill himself. 


How many times have we already made our own conclusion without asking God in prayer?  Then we live the rest of our lives while thinking our own judgment is the reality, although it was not God’s reality. How many years did Jacob live in fear of Esau?  Twenty years. What a waste! The same happen to all again and again, especially us who believe in God, if we truly come to God and experience His unceasing love.


Then what should we do?  First, we should not sin against our brothers and sisters.  Second, if we sinned, we should pray to God for his forgiveness. Jacob did not ask God’s forgiveness and spent twenty years fearing the consequence of his sin. Third, after receiving God’s forgiveness, go with God to the person whom we sinned against in humility but in the strength, mercy, grace, and love that only comes from God. Then we authentically repent our sin and ask forgiveness from the person.  After that, we wait for God’s answer and guidance with an open heart that we are ready to accept whatever God provides because the rest is in God’s domain, not ours. Again, we should not forget Our God is Our Ever-Loving Eternal Father.



That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)


 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)


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