Jacob had received a new name from God Himself. In chapter 32 God renamed him Israel because after wrestling with God, he was a “prince (who) hast thou power with God and with men.” He, more than any other man, had no reason to fear anything because God’s hand was upon him. As he prepared to meet his brother Esau, he still chose to respond in fear rather than faith. It is for this reason, he is still referred to as Jacob in vs 1. As you examine Jacob’s unbiblical responses to his fear, notice how his lack of faith leads to other sins.
Gen. 33:1-2 “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. And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.”
V8-9 “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. And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.”
V10-11 “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. 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.”
V12-13 “And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee. 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.”
LESSON - Rather than responding in faith and believing that God would protect him, he utilized sinful tactics to attempt to ease his fear of Esau. He was so focused upon his fear that he failed to acknowledge that Esau genuinely had forgiven him and loved him. By avoiding the fellowship which Esau offered, he would not see his brother again until they would reunite to bury their father Isaac. His unbiblical response led to even greater sin. He pitched his tent toward the evil city of Shalem (v18), much like Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom. We will see within the next chapter the impacts of his downward spiral into sin. What we should learn from observing Jacob’s life is that fear as well as every form it takes (worry, anxiety, envy, etc) has no place in the life of a Christian. If you choose not to respond in faith, you will miss out on the blessings of fellowship with God and others just like Jacob did with Esau.