【Bible Study】Genesis 33: The God of Israel

Bible Study: Genesis


Good morning everyone. Today let's look at Genesis chapter 33. What do you think this chapter is talking about? This chapter is talking about something very exciting, but a lot of people are confused about the chapter. Do you have any confusion? Do you know who was blessed? And who was cursed? Do you know what the God of Israel is like?

At the end of the chapter, Jacob set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel. It's translated as the God of Israel.

There he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel. (Genesis 33:20)

Sometimes we say God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob, and now Jacob named it the God of Israel. So the topic I'm going to talk about for this chapter is "This is the God of Israel". Do you recall in the previous chapter that Isaac blessed Jacob with only a few sentences?

May God give you heaven's dew and earth's richness— an abundance of grain and new wine. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed." (Genesis 27:28-29)

This was what Isaac blessed Jacob with. God revealed something like "May God give you heaven's dew and earth's richness". And this was exactly what happened. This time, Jacob experienced something interesting.

God blessed Jacob and Laban through the hand Jacob

Number one experience came when he worked for uncle Laban. Do you know what happened? God took away Laban's flocks and passed them to Jacob. Jacob got all the flocks and became so rich. He got a lot of male and female servants, a lot of cattle, cows, camels, donkeys and sheep. He got plenty. How did he get plenty? Was he taking away all these flocks by force? No! Jacob took it by the blessing of Almighty God. Not only God blessed Jacob, God also blessed Laban through the hand of Jacob. This was what Jacob experienced.

Jacob was someone so interesting who never took over things by force, never lived by swords, but by the blessing of Almighty God. Anything that Jacob touched, God blessed him.

But where did the misunderstanding come from? "Many nations will serve you, and the people bow down to you." But now, Jacob bowed down to his brother Esau. Who was supposed to bow down to who? That is the problem! Am I confusing you? I'm trying to get the topic right. We'd better clear our misunderstanding as it will solve many problems that you and I face.

God blessed Jacob by speaking to Laban

The second time that Jacob experienced God was when he ran away from his uncle Laban. After he was running away, uncle Laban found out and chased after him. Laban brought a lot of men with him and they wanted to kill Jacob. But Jacob got blessings from God and God spoke to Laban in his dream.

I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, 'Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.' (Genesis 31:29)

After Laban caught up with Jacob, he intended to take everything back by force. As he said,

Laban answered Jacob, "The women are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. All you see is mine. Yet what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about the children they have borne? (Genesis 31:43)

Do you know what happened? God spoke to Laban in his dream and addressed all the issues. No more problems. Laban departed peacefully after everything was settled.

Remember, this was the second time that Jacob was not solving the problem by power, by the sword, by muscles or by fighting but by the blessing of Almighty God. This was what Jacob went through.

Jacob got blessings by surrendering himself

After going through this, Jacob heard that Esau brought along 400 men with him and came to kill Jacob. That was why Jacob hesitated to cross over the stream, and he wrestled with the angel of God. He was wrestling with God, maybe it was God himself.

What I'm trying to say is that I have been laying out the story before we start our topic today. We'd better have a good understanding of what a blessing is. Is a blessing count? Is it called a blessing? Is it called Lord over your brother? Is it called that? What is it? How come my brother still has 400 men? I thought he was supposed to be cursed. Jacob had a different view.

If you are a Christian, you'd better understand this God of Israel. God of Israel blesses people who do not live by the sword, not by muscle, not by their strengths, not by the money they have, not by fighting but live by the blessings. This is the God of Israel.

He went through this and wrestled with God himself. Do you know what happened? He surrendered! After he surrendered, God said, "you surrender and you have won the wrestling." You win when you are wrestling with God, when you wrestle with humans, you win the wrestling. What is it?

You surrender, you kneel on the ground. How come you win? You win blessings. That was God's view. We'd better know the view of God, the view of Esau and the view of the people of God. After that, he got blessings. He asked the Angel of the Lord himself to bless him. And the Lord blessed him. Then he went ahead.

Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. (Genesis 33:1)

So at the beginning of this chapter, Jacob looked up and there was Esau with 400 men. They were riding horses, and camels, carrying swords. Everyone looked so mighty. They did not come to welcome Jacob, they came to kill him. Jacob knew exactly what was going to happen. But Jacob moved on ahead of the team. Do you know what happened? Jacob had a good character. Once again, he experienced what blessing was, what the God of Israel meant. The God of Israel solves a problem without any fighting. Jacob still remembered his father saying, "your brother bowed down before you." Now, he bowed down to his brother seven times. This was just in the carnal. But in the spiritual world, the brother Esau bowed down to him. But how do you count that? How do you conclude that? Do you have any confusion?

Jacob was strong when he faced an army of 400 people, and each one carried a sword and everyone looked like marching forward wanting to kill the enemy. But they were defeated by Jacob. Who was stronger? Jacob was stronger. The God of Israel was stronger. He bowed down before his brother. Are you confused about that?

I know some of our brothers and sisters have problems with their wives or husbands. I will sue you in court, and I will fight with you in court. Is that called the God of Israel? Is that God's approach? No! That's not God's approach. That's not God of Israel. If you fight, you will become Esau, not Jacob, not Israel at all.

So God blesses Jacob, Jacob moved ahead, and he did not behave like this. "Come over! Put your sword on my chest! I'm strong and I got the blessing of God. I have the God of Israel and come to shoot me, fire your bullet to see if it can penetrate!" Is that God of Israel? No, that is not God of Israel.

Jacob bowed down before the brother seven times and was pulling a lame leg. Do you understand what was happening? The people of God never fight, never live by the sword. People of God live by blessing. Do you hear that? People of God live by blessing. Do you know what will happen? No matter how strong your enemy is, if you have God's blessing, the people of God have no fear. You will have the courage to confront and move on ahead of your team to confront the enemy and defeat the enemy without fighting, and defeat the enemy by the blessing of Almighty God. Yes, Jacob bowed down to his brother, but in the spiritual world, his brother bowed down before him.Who is blessed, and who is cursed?

Esau said to his father, "Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!" Then Esau wept aloud. His father Isaac answered him, "Your dwelling will be away from the earth's richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck." (Genesis 33:38-40 NIV)

The people of God live by blessings, not the sword

Do you hear that? If you live by the sword that's a curse. If you live by fighting that is a curse. If you live by the blessing of the Almighty God, that is called the God of Israel. Have I cleared some of the confusion in you? Bow down to the brother, so what? Bow down seven times, so what? Get his female servants and sons to bow down, so what? And get his wife to bow to down Esau, so what? Jesus Christ was nailed on the cross, so what? That is called victory! Do you have that character? That is a problem.

A lot of Christians like to fight, for justice, in court. For this, for that. That is called Esau, not the God of Jacob. Do you understand? Have we cleared some misunderstandings? He had four hundred people with him, and said, "Oh, what a blessing." How come I don't have four hundred people with me, and my brother has? Is that called blessing? No, it's not called a blessing. God of Israel, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, does not have a similar understanding of human beings. You and I have to have the same understanding. That is called courage, that is called boldness, that is called the power and might of our Lord. If you want to fight; especially some of our sisters, always want to fight with their husbands! Why do you want to do that? "Oh, he mistreated me". If you have the blessing of God, you would not come to this kind of situation at all! And you will know how to handle it, following the approach of the God of Israel.

Don't look at the outward signs, but the spiritual blessing

And this is the God of Israel. Blessed are those who are meek. Meek is not weak, meek is strong. Now, if you look at four hundred people with Esau, are you going to be confused? A lot of people don't know God, but they do well in business, and they do much better. Esau managed a flock and a team, without an inheritance from the father. Now he was so rich he had four hundred people with him. If you count the children and old people in the family, he probably had more than his grandfather Abraham.

But does this count? Not at all. But are we counting them as blessings? If you look at those things you are going to be very confused. If you compare your study results and many people are better than you, if you see people much richer than you, and you compare the team they manage, they have more team members than you. If you look at the church, and there are hundreds, thousands, millions more people than yours, are those called blessings? Maybe not. That is not the God of Israel. The God of Israel blessed you and made you a Lord over your brother; that is exactly where the confusion is.

The people will bow down to you. I have never seen anyone bow down to Jacob. Is God talking about nonsense, is this nothing? We did not see anyone bow down to Jacob. But Jacob bowed down to his brother Esau. No, this is not the case at all! We are not talking about the outward signs, but the spiritual things. Do you know what happened?

"Be Lord over your brother, and may the son of your mother bow down to you." Who is bowing down to who? In the spiritual world. Esau brought four hundred people with him, coming to kill his brother, and just a few hundred meters away, his mind was suddenly confused.

"What am I doing here? Am I coming to kill my brother Jacob? Oh yeah, I remember that, but I don't want to kill him anymore! Look at this, look at my four hundred people, I have more people and blessings, so why do I want to kill him? What is this?"

"Your dwelling will be away from the richness and the dew of heaven above. What nonsense is that! You will live by your muscle, and the sword, and serve your brother. What is that? I don't seem to be serving my brother at all?"

Who is serving whom, and who is bowing down to whom? Are you confused by that? And who is richer; who is wealthier; who is more powerful? Who has the yoke on their neck? I don't have a yoke on my neck. Is Isaac talking nonsense? Is the God of Israel talking nonsense? But the problem is that Esau is totally confused.

"Oh actually, look at this man, cheated my father 20 years ago, now pulling his lame leg and walking like that, he cannot even run. If I kill him, what a shame that is! Killing someone that cannot even run away! Not even riding a horse, and he's walking with his donkeys and camels. Can they fight? With his flock?"

Esau had no spiritual understanding

Esau has no spiritual eyes and no spiritual understanding of the situation. If you look at the Bible study material, I am not so sure how a lot of them will interpret this. "Oh, they reconciled." But I am talking about who is bowing down to whom, who is blessed, and who has the yoke on their neck. Esau, now he recalled all these things, and he said to himself, "What a blessing! My father is talking nonsense, maybe his eyes went blind and his mind was haywire. Oh, not counted. Why should I kill my brother? What nonsense, oh my God. This is called a blessing, I am Esau, I am blessed! But he has no spiritual eyesight, and he doesn't understand the spiritual world."

In the old days, he was so tired, and he exchanged the firstborn right for his brother Jacob. The same thing, Esau thought he was making a very good decision. He thought he was so powerful, four hundred people. He thought he had much better martial arts than his grandfather Abraham. Now we clear all of the misunderstandings. Jacob bowed down to his brother Esau, no, in the spiritual world Esau bowed down to his brother Jacob. And Jacob said, "Oh, my lord, seeing you is like seeing the face of God." Very powerful.

Look at Esau's confusion. A lot of Christians behave like Esau. A lot of people do not have the God of Israel but the God of Esau. They have purely carnal eyes, and they do not live by God but by the world. They are not as good as the other one, the unbeliever. Would you be confused?

Jacob said, "My lord." Does that mean he is Jacob's lord? How do we explain this? You see, my lord, and opens his mouth, his brother Esau, he said, "You are the lord of me". What a confusing verse! Today I am going to explain this to you. And Jacob is going to give his brother so many gifts and presents, a lot of donkeys and sheep, tens of hundreds; What a huge amount! In those days, it was worth a lot of money. But he gave it to his brother. And the brother says, "I already have plenty. Keep this with you, you don't need to give it to me." But Jacob insisted, and Esau accepted it.

Carry the mentality of Jacob

What a wonderful story. As a Christian, never behave like Esau. Carry the mentality of Jacob. But people say, "This is the reconciliation of the brothers." How can there be reconciliation? This is a carnal view. Because Esau was the one who lived by the sword, Jacob lived by the blessing of the Almighty God. The brother, a few hundred meters away, changed his mind! He came down from his horse, hugged him, and cried. And Esau hugged him, and they wept, and cried, and reconciled. Is this called reconciliation? I don't think so. This is called Jacob defeating the four hundred men. Jacob, by his wisdom, disarmed the four hundred strong people who were supposed to kill him. Who is the winner of this battle? Jacob is the winner.

Whether you open your mouth and cry "Oh Lord, oh Lord!", and what was the result? The war was over, everything was over, and Jacob won the blessing from the God of Israel.

If every time you try to fight with your sword, with your muscle and the power of this world, you will become Esau who lived under a curse. But if you follow the path of Jacob, you will get the blessing from the God of Israel. Do you understand how the result comes about? It comes from the God of Israel. If you have a wrong understanding of this, you have to change your view. If someone studies better than you and you say, "what is the blessing?". You are an Esau. If someone is wealthier than you and you say, "what is the blessing?" Then you are an Esau. If someone is more powerful than you and you say, "what is the blessing?" Then you are an Esau.

Jacob had a strong character. He would defeat enemies no matter how strong they are. That is why he had a good story in Genesis 33. Now he experienced God one more time. Jacob met and gave presents to his brother. Then his brother went back to Seir. Seir is a mountain place. Esau was living by his sword so he needed a place to protect himself. After that, Jacob settled down at this place called Sukkoth after coming back from Paddan Aram. He paid 100 pieces of silver for this piece of land. He pitched his tents and started to live over them. Then he built an altar called El Elohe Israel ("God of Israel")

Carnal people's existence is for the people of God

Now I have to tell you something very important. The existence of Esau has no meaning. Like many people who live in carnality have no meaning in living on the earth, the only meaning of Esau's existence is to create a story. It is for this reason of Jacob. He only played a supporting role, the key role was Jacob. Many people came and left the world. Their existence is only for the people of God. In God's eyes, their existence has no meaning. But the existence of Jacob is preparing for eternity. Other people only have the role of creating a story like this:

"May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed." (Genesis 27:29, NIV)

No matter how strong they are, they will be defeated by the people of God. No one will be able to fight against the people of God. Those people's existence is because of you. We are special people. We are not living on this earth, but in the kingdom of God, in eternity. Many people will come and go, but we are the people of God who will live by the God of Israel.

God changed Esau's mind

Jacob received another victory given by God. He survived through the hand of Laban his uncle. He managed to survive Esau's 400 people, and he also managed to survive many other challenges ahead of him. Now Jacob concluded that the God of Israel is his treasure. God of Israel is really powerful and he can change his brother's mind just a few hundred meters away, he was supposed to come and kill me, but now he hugged me and wept before me. What a powerful God he is! God also gave Jacob a new name called Israel. The meaning of the name is very interesting. The original meaning is "You have struggled with God and humans and have overcome."

That is called an overcomer. Israel was an overcomer. It doesn't matter if Israel bowed down to his brother and said you are my lord, gave the presents, and bought a piece of land for 100 pieces of silver? So what? Maybe it was overpriced, so what? Money is not a concern, the concern is whether God is with him. He did not live by money, strength, or by 400-800 men. He lived by the blessing of almighty God, he was an overcomer. Even though he confronted 400 people with swords and armor, he used wisdom to beat them.

To be an overcomer like Jacob

When Moses wrote this, he was trying to tell the people of Israel in the desert. In the desert, the people of Israel were supposed to march into the promised land and fight against Canaanites. Moses was trying to tell people that the God of Israel was with them. God led the people of Israel out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. God won for them and they lived by blessings. Even the army of Pharaoh, the strongest army in the world, was defeated by the power of God. No one can confront them because they were the people of God.

When the people of Israel marched into the promised land, God would move ahead of them. God would defeat the enemy, and they would occupy the land. Moses tried to tell people even Esau wanted to kill their forefather, Jacob, but he was defeated.

Jacob was an overcomer. Do you trust the Lord? That was why Jacob wanted to take the risk to be defeated and possibly to be killed by 400 people. If you trust the Lord, you will overcome your fear, your confusion, and your carnal eyes. If you overcome your mouth, you can speak a different kind of language.

Jacob said "my lord". He didn't refer to Esau as his brother but as his Lord. Is he Jacob's Lord? No. You need to know how to speak with wisdom. We have to throw out our carnal mentality from our minds. How much carnal mentality do we have in our lives? Do you live by money? Live by your muscle? Live by the sword? Or do you live by that kind of worldly thing? No, we live in eternality. We have to realize that our God is the God of Israel. God will be our strength. Isn't it wonderful?

I hope I cleared some misunderstandings in this chapter. We are worshipping the God of Israel. He said:

"May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed." (Genesis 27:29, NIV)

We never live by the sword, we never live by our power and strength, we live by the blessing of almighty God. I know many Christians are living by the mentality of Esau and that is a sorrow.

May the Lord bless you and see you next week!

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