Today’s Genesis 32 begins where yesterday’s left off. Esau is drawing close with 400 men and Jacob senses danger. He sends some servants and animals ahead of him with instructions for them to tell Esau that their master has sent a gift (the servants and animals) and is following. Jacob then puts his wives on the other side of a river and so the long night begins.
And in a rare moment of Old Testament symbolism, we are told that Jacob, alone in his tent wrestled with a man all night. Either the man was himself and the wrestling was mental or the man was a spirit. By dawn he has suffered a dislocated hip. So not a metaphorical wrestling match then. The “man” tells him that from now on he will be called Israel, which means one who has fought with God and won.
Genesis 33 and finally Esau and Jacob meet. And what a surprise, Esau is so happy to meet Jacob after all these years. He even refuses the gifts at first, until Jacob insists. Jacob buys some land and so settles down. Or so he thought…
Genesis 34 gets right into the action with Shechem, the son of a local landowner raping Dinah (Jacob and Leah’s daughter). There is an urgent meeting between the two families. Jacob’s sons have a solution. They will let Shechem marry Dinah if every man in the family is circumcised. Everyone agrees and soon Jacob and his sons start to trade with Shechem and his family. Jacob’s sons are all set to marry Shechem’s sisters.
But (34:25) “Three days later, when their wounds were still sore, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, … took their swords and entered the town without opposition. They slaughtered every male there.” The other brothers looted the town and took the women and children as captives.
Jacob is absolutely furious, “You have ruined me!” But they are unrepentant, “Why should we let him treat our sister like a whore?” Powerful words. Who is right? Who is wrong?
Jesus’ words in Matthew are also very powerful. He denounces the towns where he has been preaching because they have not repented. “Even Sodom will be better off on judgement day than you.”
Have you said sorry today, and meant it?
Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”
Who has ever found themselves under pressure? It’s part of everyday life in the 21st Century. And yet, it need not be wearisome. Tell Jesus what’s wrong, he can help. Shout at him, pray silently in your own mind. It’s good to unburden yourself. He will carry it for you until you are ready to move on.
Psalm 14: 1, “Only fools say in their hearts ‘There is no God.'” Because if there’s no God, then who are we talking to when we pray? Ourselves! And what’s wrong with that? Nothing! Sometimes it can be the only way we can make sense of things.
But there IS a God. A God who listens and he will help when we ask him to. Proverbs 3: 19, “He created the heavens” and “The dew settles beneath the night sky.”
Today’s readings are asking some difficult questions. Have you got what it takes to say “Sorry” for something you did wrong? Are you confident enough to pray that Jesus will lift your burden for you?
God has made the world, and everything in it. From the tallest mountains to the tiny droplets of dew. And despite his power and authority, he listens to you.
He is listening now. What are you going to say?