The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, by Watchman Nee


Jacob became crippled after Peniel, but he still did not know what he had experienced. When the day broke, he still acted according to his original plan.

Many people condemn Jacob and pass judgment on him. They think that Jacob should have stopped his activities because he had been touched by God. Since he was touched by God already, every problem should have been solved. This is the mentality of those who do not know themselves. They think that everything is clear-cut and that all of their problems can be solved in one breath. Actually, things are never that simple. We have to realize that experience is not a whim of an idea. Jacob could not become Israel in an instant. Since he had made all the arrangements the day before, he carried out his scheme as planned. But we have to realize one thing: After God touched the hollow of his thigh, he was different when he met Esau. We can see that Jacob was beginning to change.

Let us read Genesis 33:1-3: "And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost. And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother." He was still as cunning as before. He even bowed down seven times to the ground before his brother. Verse 4 says, "And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept." Jacob did not expect that his schemes would not be needed and that all his plans were in vain. God’s protection was real. All he needed was a little faith and he could have avoided much vexation and fear! Esau did not try to kill him; rather, he was coming to welcome him. He embraced Jacob, fell on his neck, and kissed him. All of Jacob’s cleverness and plans came to nothing! When he left his brother and met Rachel, he wept. Now when he came back and met Esau, he wept again. Some people weep because they like to weep by nature. But Jacob was a resourceful person; he did not weep easily. However, when he saw his brother, he wept. This was a rare occasion. This means that the experience of Peniel had made Jacob a soft person.

Verses 6 through 8 say, "Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves. And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves. And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord." He was still delivering the speech he had prepared the day before. The day before he had prepared to call Esau "my lord." He went according to the original plan and called him "my lord." A man can be dealt with in his natural life, and his power can be stripped by God, but his outward conduct may take a few weeks or even a few months to change.

Verses 9 and 10 say, "And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself. And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me." We should not consider this word as Jacob’s pretense. He said, "I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God." Jacob was not trying to be humble in saying this. Of course Jacob was very good at pretending, but this word was not his pretense. There was deep significance to his word. This word means that for him to see Esau’s face was for him to face Peniel. What does this mean? It means that when one sees the face of those he has offended and sinned against, he sees the face of God. Whenever we meet those whom we have sinned against, we meet God. Whenever we come across those whom we have offended, we come across judgment. If we owe anyone anything, if we have ill-treated anyone, or if we have done anyone harm, we will see God every time we see them if the matter is not settled. They will become as fearful as God. Every time we see their face we will be reminded of God, and every time we come across their way we will come across judgment. Jacob was stating the real fact. For Jacob, seeing Esau’s face was indeed "as though I had seen the face of God."

(The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Chapter 10, by Watchman Nee)