Genesis 32 Part 1: To Truly Win, We Must Lose

Whenever tensions are not settled with someone else, we typically feel a sense of burden. In the overall scheme of things, does the purpose of our fight really match up in importance to God? To truly win we must lose.

Jacob had unfinished business with his brother Esau. On his way back home, Jacob encounters angels. We learn from the Bible that these beings are ministering spirits, as guardians of those on the path towards salvation (Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 91:11). This next trial might have been the biggest one for Jacob, but God provided him visible comfort and everything he needed. He just had to open his eyes and have faith in God’s promises. And Jacob took notice.

[We should note that Jacob first reacted in fear, placing his estate into two locations. This tactic is not to be compared to Abram’s who prepared for fight in Genesis 14. Instead, it demonstrates that without the Lord’s guidance, fear can grab ahold of us and make us flee from tough situations. But, through prayer Jacob is saved.]

‘If a ruler’s anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great offenses to rest.’ – Ecclesiastes 10:4


Mahanaim: two camps. Jacob had his army, representing our church on Earth, and God’s army of angels, showing triumphant victory in Heaven, on his side. He had it all. But what does he do to settle his unfinished business with Esau? Jacob prayed and humbled himself before the Lord to find peace and guidance (v.10). By our worldly standards, Esau deserved nothing from Jacob. By the same reasoning we deserve nothing from God. We sin time and time again, but God’s compassion is limitless. Jesus did not come to the earth to conquer on a noble steed, but as a Prince of Peace, riding a donkey (Matthew 21) and washing sinners’ feet (John 13).

‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’ – Mark 10:45

‘But God shows undeserved kindness to everyone. That’s why he appointed Christ Jesus to choose you to share in his eternal glory. You will suffer for a while, but God will make you complete, steady, strong, and firm.’ – 1 Peter 5:10

So too did Jacob submit himself to his older brother, calling himself a servant and giving Esau a bounty of livestock. To those who have wronged us, we must always be kind and respectful, as we are undeserving of God’s love and forgiveness. Our denial of self allows for clarity of God’s grace. Once we recognize our own unworthiness of God’s salvation, we can humble ourselves and display God’s grace in every trial and tribulation.




One Reply to “Genesis 32 Part 1: To Truly Win, We Must Lose”

  1. Jacob’s prayer is the highlight of this chapter to me. In it, we gain a few insights into Jacob:

    -he knows he is not worthy of God’s faithfulness/provisions
    -he recognizes what God has promised him
    -he asks for deliverance from his brother, showing his reliance on God over man

    I think you do a great job highlighting that the Christian life starts from a place of realizing your own unworthiness and a need for God. During a homilee, the priest at my church made the claim that all sin comes from pride- a feeling that we are capable of doing things on our own, our own way.

    In this chapter, we see Jacob, who clearly recognizes that God has CHOSEN him for greatness as a part of the promised lineage, humbling himself before God and relying on him for strength.

    I think you highlight a great lesson for all of us: while we are not perfect, it is our understanding of our faults and need for God that allows us to humble ourselves before God and man as we seek repentance and persue eternity with God in heaven.


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