Saturday, January 17, 2009

Think About It

I am planning to read through my Bible this year, so right now I am in Genesis. I just finished reading the story of Jacob - from how he cheated Esau out of the birthright, and then the blessing, then he worked 14 years for his Uncle Laban in trade for Leah and Rachel as wives. Then Jacob stayed on in the employment of Laban in order to build up his own herds and flocks. Yesterday I was in Genesis 31, where Jacob wants to return to his own land, but he is afraid of Laban. As a result, Jacob sneaks out and puts and three days' journey between himself and Laban. Once he righted his relationship with Laban, Jacob then had to face his brother Esau, who was breathing out threats of killing Jacob upon their last encounter. This caused me to think about fear.

In the first instance, Jacob was afraid of Laban because he was trusting in himself, and not in God. God had given the command in Genesis 31:1, "And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee." If God has promised to be with Jacob, then Jacob had nothing to fear at the hand of Laban. God does not call us to go where His grace will not sustain us. Jacob could have avoided fear and worry by simply taking God at His word.

In the second instance, Jacob was afraid of Esau, but he allowed it to drive him toward God. Genesis 32:7-12 records the prayer of Jacob as he prepared to face his brother:

7 Then 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;
8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company
which is left shall escape.
9 And 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:
10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the
truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over
this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
11 Deliver 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.
12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

When we face things in our lives that bring fear, anxiety, and worry, we must turn toward the Lord. Jacob had the right response in these verses, because he finally returned his trust to the Lord God.

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

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