Friday, November 19, 2021

Does It Really Matter?


In this week’s Torah portion of “Va’yishlach”, Jacob is seen heading back to the land, after leaving his father in law Laban and his (circa.) twenty years of exile.  Returning home, however, meant that he would have to face his brother Esau. Obviously he was full of fear and dread, as he recalled only too vividly his brother’s angry response to what the latter termed as “birthright theft”.  His mother’s voice, telling him that Esau wanted to do away with him, was still ringing loudly in Jacob’s inner being (ref. Genesis 27:41-42).  Thus, Jacob’s first attempt was to appease his brother, by sending him gifts of livestock, as well as messengers who were to inform Jacob’s sibling that he was returning home.  These messengers, however, returned with some frightening news.  Esau was coming toward Jacob with a four hundred-strong party (ref. Genesis 32:6).   

No doubt Jacob was convinced that Esau rounded up a ‘militia’, which was about to do just what he had feared.  He then devised a strategy, by dividing up his family into two companies - his concubines and their children were placed in the front lines, second was Leah and her children, and lastly Joseph with his mother Rachel (ref. Genesis 32:7).  One would think that Jacob would be standing behind Rachel, ready to escape if Esau were to be hostile to the first lot.  But instead, he mustered up strength and went out to meet his brother face to face ahead of his family. 

But just before the dreaded encounter was to take place, and in spite of Jacob’s appeasing attempts and maneuvers, he recognized that in reality there was no other alternative than to cry out to his Elohim. It is very interesting and important for us today to listen carefully to our patriarch’s plea for help.  Jacob was facing what could be a life and death situation, not only for himself but also for his entire family.  Let’s look at this plea in Genesis 32:9-12:  Then Jacob said, ‘O Elohim  of my father Abraham and of my father Isaac, YHVH who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you':  I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies.  Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children.  For You said, 'I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude'" (emphases added).

Over the years the statement, “knowing one’s natural identity is not important, as long as we are all one in Messiah”, has been sounded repeatedly.  Yes, our spiritual oneness in Messiah and our identity in Him is paramount, but having a natural existence and family history are very important too, as Jacob found out.  In his prayer for help, the first thing he does is to remind YHVH of His relationship to his fathers, Abraham and Isaac. Secondly, he cites what YHVH had spoken to them and also to him. Namely, about returning to his country and family, promising to treat him well, and regarding the prolific seed that he was to have, as numerous as the sand of the sea.  All of this was accompanied by an attitude of brokenness and humility, as Jacob confessed: “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant” (v.10). What seemed to have gotten YHVH’s attention were the recaps that Jacob brought up, regarding what YHVH promised him as well as the covenants that He made with his forefathers. Jacob trusted in the faithfulness of Elohim to “watch over His word and to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:12).

When (you are) fearful about present circumstances and desperate enough to cry out to Elohim, the first thing to remember in your prayer is ‘which’ Elohim are you addressing.  Jacob knew who his fathers were and cried out to their Elohim. One might think that it doesn’t matter to YHVH, so why would it matter to us? However, He called Himself after those three men:  “I am the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac and the Elohim of Jacob” (Ex 3:6; Math 22:32). The scriptures record over 200 times that YHVH is the Elohim of Israel. Hence, His identity matters to Him and because it does, so should it to us, as the progeny of Israel.  YHVH branded His name on the sheep of His pasture, and therefore He knows who belongs to Him, responding to them because of the forefathers.    


  1. I have seen that pattern and appreciate how you have articulated this truth. Thank you and Shabbat Shalom!

  2. wow
    that is shouting grounds and to think I understand it!

  3. Amen, amen and AMEN💥❤️💥

  4. "he recognized that in reality there was no other alternative than to cry out to his Elohim" How many times have we been in that position and Abba was faithful to answer! We can be assured that He will! Tommy Wilson