He put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph at the rear.
Genesis 30:37; Genesis 31:20). Returning home greatly enriched, he heard of Esau at hand. He feared his anger. No help in man; God's promise his only refuge. Could he trust to it? His wrestling. We cannot picture its outward form; but its essence a spiritual struggle. His endurance tried by bodily infirmity (cf. Job 2:5) and by the apparent unwillingness of the Being with whom he strove (cf. Matthew 15:26). His answer showed determination (cf. 2 Kings 4:30). This prevailed; weak as he was, he received the blessing (cf. Hebrews 11:34). And the new name was the sign of his victory (cf. Matthew 21:22; 1 John 5:4).
I. THE STRUGGLE. Why thus protracted? It was not merely a prolonged prayer, like Luke 6:12. There was some hindrance to be overcome (cf. Matthew 11:12); not by muscular force, but by earnest supplication. Where Scripture is silent we must speak cautiously. But probable explanation is the state of Jacob's own mind. Hitherto faith had been mixed with faithlessness; belief in the promise with hesitation to commit the means to God. Against this divided mind (James 1:8) the Lord contended. No peace while this remained (cf. Isaiah 26:3). And the lesson of that night was to trust God's promise entirely (cf. Psalm 37:3). When this was learned the wrestling of the Spirit against the double mind was at an end. Such a struggle may be going on in the hearts of some here. A craving for peace, yet a restless disquiet. The gospel believed, yet failing to bring comfort. Prayer for peace apparently unanswered, so that there seemed to be some power contending against us. Why is this? Most probably from failing to commit all to God. Perhaps requiring some sign (John 20:25), some particular state of feeling, or change of disposition; perhaps looking for faith within as the ground of trust; perhaps choosing the particular blessing - self-will as to the morsel of the bread of life to satisfy us, instead of taking every word of God. There is the evil. It is against self thou must strive. Behold thy loving Savior; will he fail thee in the hour of need? Tell all to him; commit thyself into his hands; not once or twice, but habitually.
II. THE NEW NAME (Cf. Revelation 3:12). No more Jacob, the crafty, but Israel, God's prince (cf. Revelation 1:6). The token of victory over distrust, self-will, self-confidence. In knowledge of poverty is wealth (Matthew 5:3); in knowledge of weakness, strength (2 Corinthians 12:10). That name is offered to all. The means, persevering prayer; but prayer not to force our will upon God, but that trust may be so entire that our wills may in all things embrace his. - M.
1. Jacob and his seed desire to usurp nothing but what they buy from the world.
And he bought a parcel of a field.I. HIS FAITH. He bought a parcel of ground as a pledge of his faith in the future possession of that country by his posterity (ver. 19). This purchase of a portion of land, concerning which God had promised Abraham that it should be his, showed Jacob's deep conviction that the promise was renewed to him and to his seed.
II. HIS PIETY. This was an evidence of his faith. He gave himself up entirely to God, and this inward feeling was expressed outwardly by acts of obedience and devotion. His piety is seen —
1. In an act of worship. "He erected there an altar." This was in keeping with his vow (Genesis 28:21).
2. In the use of blessings already given. He called the altar "El-Elohe-Israel" (ver. 20). He now uses his own new name, Israel, for the first time, in association with the name of God. He uses that name which signifies the Mighty One, who was now his covenant God. He lives up to his privilege, uses all that God had given. He had vowed that he would take the Lord to be his God.
3. In the peace he enjoyed. He arrived in peace at his journey's end (ver. 18).
(T. H. Leale.)
2. God's pilgrims mind no great purchase below, but only a place for a tent: a little place.
3. It is lawful for Jacob to deal with Canaanites in just exchanges (ver. 19).
4. Saints would not have a house but that God should dwell in
5. Succeeding saints repair religion and the means of the exercise of it, set up by progenitors.
6. Altarworship, or worship by Christ, is that which saints have ever practised.
7. True religion is terminated in the Almighty God.
8. Religious worship is the true memorial of God's making His Church truly Israel (ver. 20).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
He erected there an altar. —
1. We may remark, first, that it is clearly the duty of every family to maintain such worship.
2. We may pass on, therefore, in the second place, to the advantages of family worship. Among its lesser benefits, we may remark in passing that, rightly conducted, it makes a profitable impression upon those out of the family, who may chance to witness it. Family worship is also of unspeakable advantage in maintaining all the other institutions of our holy religion. We can hardly enumerate the advantages of family worship to the household itself. That it draws down the blessing of God upon the domestic circle needs no proof, for we have for our encouragement, not only the general promises made to prayer, but the special assurance that "where two or three are gathered together in Christ's name He will be with them"; and we have farther, the evidence of actual experience. If we value the salvation of our loved ones we shall not neglect this means of securing it. The restraining influence of domestic worship upon all the annoyances and disturbers of domestic peace is most powerful and valuable. Who can kneel down and pray daily before his family against a sin which he habitually commits? How can the inmates of a dwelling cherish unkind feelings towards each other while united in common prayer?
3. We may next notice the manner in which family devotions may best be performed.
4. Our last point will be to notice the objections and difficulties which are commonly opposed to the duty. One may reply, that all these arguments and statements may be very good and true, but that he makes no profession of religion, and it would be improper, therefore, for him to set up family worship. Why so? Is it wrong for him to pray in secret, or in the house of God, or to give his children religious instruction? And why any more so to pray in the family?
(W. H. Lewis, D. D.)
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