"You will no longer be called Jacob, your name will be Israel." Genesis 35:10
A painful memory, and a lingering fear
For some 20 years now, Jacob has lived with fear and anxiety that cause him to flee from his home. Now, Jacob felt intense fear again as he heard Esau was coming to meet him.
Itís not clear how much time has passed since Jacobís wrestling match with God. When Jacob saw Esau though, Jacob quickly forgot Godís words in Gen. 32:28.
Sadly, the favoritism is obvious
We can see the way wrong behavior is passed down from parent to child. Isaac and Rebekah played favorites with Esau and Jacob. Here, we see the way Jacob plays favorites in his own family.
Jacob places the maidservants and their children closest to Esau. Next, there was Leah and her children. Finally, Rachel and Joseph, Jacobís favorites, were in the back, the farthest away from Esau and danger.
How do you think that made Leah feel? We have no indication that she ever did anything wrong. It was Labanís decision to trick Jacob, and give her instead of Rachel.
How did it make Jacobís children feel? This favoritism did not go unnoticed by the children, and the resentment would build until some years later, they would fake Josephís death and sell him into slavery.
A Striking Contrast
Esau had apparently long since forgiven Jacob. How strange it is to see Esau acting with such emotion and compassion.
Long before, Rebekah had thought Esau would cool off quickly. Jacob did not get the word, though. See Gen. 27:44-45.
Here is Jacob, large family, large flocks, who more or less stole Esauís birthright, offering Esau a large flock. Esau demonstrates sincere forgiveness by refusing the gift. (33:9)
Jacob doesnít seem to trust Esau, and again is not honest with Esau, and does not follow Esau back to Seir. Instead, Jacob goes on to Canaan. (33:16-18).
In Chapter 34, tragedy struck Jacobís family. Now, after making peace with Laban, and after making peace with Esau, God comes to Jacob and tells him to return to Bethel. Jacob needs to make peace in his family, and remind them all of who God is.
Jacob may have remembered the awe he first felt at Bethel (28:17). He orders his family to purify themselves from all foreign gods and influences. (35:2) We cannot go into Godís presence still clutching our strange gods.
After all that has happened, and in spite of Jacobís flaws, God again affirms His covenant with Jacob, and calls Jacob by a new name, Israel. (35:10).
Jacob is home. He loses Rachel, and with Esau, they bury their father, Isaac (35:29)
#1) We should seek forgiveness from those weíve sinned against
Complete obedience means ridding ourselves of all of our "strange gods"