When we consider the lives of the Patriarchs and all the great things they did and compare them to our lives, it’s real easy to magnify our own flaws in the light of what they accomplished. Likewise it’s easy to forget some of their failures.
For instance, it’s easy to forget that when Abraham took his wife and all that were with him into Egypt, he was willing to let Sarah be taken captive by Pharaoh because he was afraid for his own life. It’s easy to forget that Isaac, a patriarch of Israel, preferred Esau, the one whom God rejected. It’s easy to forget that even though God had made Jacob some very explicit promises, Scripture records that Jacob remained afraid of Esau, particularly when he saw that Esau was coming with 400 men to greet him.
In Genesis 32:9, 11-12, this is what Jacob prays to the Lord:
Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’…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.’”
Jacob seems to be saying, “You said all of these things, but did you really mean them? Are you really going to accomplish all that you said that you would through me, in me, for me, because I really need to know? I’m really afraid because Esau’s coming. He’s got 400 men.” Even though God had made him very specific promises, when faced with these circumstances, he began to question God. He wanted reassurance that God was still with him and still intended to perform these promises in his life because Esau was coming.
Consider that Esau, besides being a literal personal, can represent that which is within us that has the potential to destroy us. In other words, Esau can represent our carnal inclination that, from time to time, tries to rise up and destroy the “Jacob” within us. More than likely, the battles that most of us will face in this world will not be with governments, black helicopters or even devils as much as the “Esau” that’s within us. It’s the carnal nature that’s within us that has to be crucified every day. It is our own will and desires that, more than anything, has the potential to destroy us.
All of us, from time to time, have felt the way that Jacob felt. And so, there are times in our lives when we are compelled to call upon the Lord and say, “Are You going to do what You said You would do. Esau’s coming against me. Deliver me from Esau.” In that regard we are no different than those great men and women that we read about in Scripture. And what made them great? It wasn’t because they were perfect people but because they trusted in God. The only reason we know they existed is because God chose them and they answered that call, placing their confidence in God. The same Creator who chose Abraham for his generation, Moses for his generation and who chose Paul for his generation is the same Creator who chose us for this generation. He knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb. He knew all about us, and yet He chose us. One thing we can be certain of: God doesn’t choose the perfect but perfects the chosen.
He will perform what He said He would do. He will deliver us from the Esau within. He will perform in our lives all the things that He said He would do through us. He just requires that we place our confidence in Him and devote ourselves to submitting our will to His. If we do so, He can and will do great things in our lives.