Rev. E. Anderson
BACKWARD TO GO FORWARD
God came with a new directive at the right time to guide and govern Jacob in order that he might make a greater advance in his spiritual career. From outward observation, it looks as if it was a backward act, but in point of fact, it was of a challenging order to take him further ahead, and this course of action would require faith and courage but it would ultimately effect real changes on many fronts.
1/. THE SUMMONS TO RETURN TO THE PROMISED LAND – GENESIS 31: 1
He had prospered where he was, in spite of major difficulties, and it would have been easy to try and accommodate this situation and make the best of it. He could have sought to further manipulate and bring amendment and good will into the relationships but this was not God’s mind. Jacob’s place was in the Promised Land and he needed to go back if things were going to go ahead on other major fronts.
2/. THE SUMMONS TO RETURN AND FACE AN ENRAGED BROTHER – GENESIS 32
Being Jacob, he knew he had to face the awful prospect of meeting a brother whom he had deceived and diddled out of the birthright and blessing and it was a hard and brutal ordeal to consider. Going back meant dealing with this. Again, he resorts to his own natural instincts and plans appeasement. He is not wanting in methods on this front but at the end of the day it is God that does the appeasing and effects the reconciliation. His fight with the angel at Peniel must, in the first instance, meant an attack by Esau unawares. No wonder he fought!
3/. THE SUMMONS TO RETURN TO THE PLACE OF CONSECRATION – GENESIS 35
This was after his encounter with the situation his sons had created with the slaughter of Shechem and his family and others. Jacob was utterly disturbed over the rape of his daughter and the outrage of his sons and the possible consequences. They had practiced deceit just like him. Into this experience God brings relief with a word – 1 and gives a preservation order and takes decisive steps - v5. There is the removing things of an idolatrous nature that had been gathered over the past years and a spiritual renewal effected. An altar was raised in gratitude.
In going back he had a greater experience of God’s goodness and power. He found the Lord dealing with Laban, Esau, enemies, family and self. In going back to Canaan he was to have a Peniel experience, a name and nature change. Going out was his Bethel encounter: coming back was his Peniel visitation.