OceanSide church of Christ

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Genesis 32

Victor M. Eskew


I.          The title of Genesis 32


A.   Preparations to Meet Esau, and, O Yeah, Angels

B.   A Prepared Meeting and An Unexpected Meeting

C.   Brother by Day, Wrestler by Night

D.   Fear and Fight

E.   The Expected and the Unexpected

F.    Jacob Becomes Israel


II.        The Key Verse of Genesis 32:  Genesis 32:28


And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel:  for as a prince thou hast power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.


Why this verse?  Names were important in Old Testament times.  Jacob means deceiver or supplanter.  That how he left his home.  In returning to his home, he would be called Israel.  He is a changed man.  He is now a prince who can prevail, prevail with both God and man.  That is quite a change.


III.      Outline of Genesis 32


i.             PREPARING TO MEET ESAU (Gen. 32:1-23)

ii.            PREVAILING OVER THE ANGEL (Gen. 32:24-32)


IV.       Lessons from Genesis 32


A.   God continued to be with Jacob as he prepared to meet Esau (Gen. 32:1-2).


And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.  And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host:  and he called that name of that place Mahanaim.


1.     Jacob calls these angels’ “God’s host.”  The word “host” means “army.”  Thus, they were Jacob’s protectors.

2.    See Joshua 5:13-15


And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand:  and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversary?  And he said, Nay; but as the captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.  And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?  And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place where on thou standest is holy.  And Joshua did so.


3.     Jacob names this place:  Mahanaim.  The meaning of the word is “two hosts.”  Jacob had his small host and God’s host as his protection.


B.   When attempting to reconcile with another, it might be wise to allow another to “get a feel” of your adversary’s attitude (Gen. 32:3-5).


And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother…and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.


C.   It is difficult for the child of God to overcome the emotion of fear (Gen. 32:6-7a).


And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.  Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed…


1.     Fear flies in the face of faith.

a.    Jacob had received a promise from God that He would be with him (Gen. 31:3).

b.    He was also privileged to see the angelic host at Mahanaim (Gen. 32:1-2).

c.    Jacob seems to forget these things and is filled with fear.

d.    II Timothy 1:7


For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.


D.   Jacob did not allow his fear to cause him to sin against God.  Instead, he took his fears to God (Gen. 32:9-12) and asked to be delivered.  He did this based upon the promise God made to him.


…Deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau:  for I fear him, lest he come and smite me, and the mother with the children.  And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.


E.   Gifts can be very effective in appeasing the anger of another (Gen. 32:13-15).


And he lodged there that same night, and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother; two hundred she goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams, thirty milch camels with their colts, twenty kind, and ten bulls, twenty she-asses, and ten foals.


1.     Proverbs 17:8


A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it:  whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.


2.    Proverbs 18:16


A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.


3.     Proverbs 21:14


A gift in secret pacifieth anger:  and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.


F.    Jacob understood the responsibility that he had as a husband and father to protect his family.  He put three droves of people and gifts between his family and his brother Esau (Gen. 32:16-20).


G.   Jacob’s wresting with the angel is typical of our struggle with God in prayer (Gen. 32:24-30).

1.     Colossians 4:12


Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.


a.    Laboring fervently

1)     Strong (75):  agonizomai, to struggle…(to contend with an adversay… :- fight, labor fervently, strive.

2)    Thayer:  contend in the gymnastic games, fight, contend, stuggle

b.    When Epaphras prayed, he was in a wrestling match much like Jacob was with the angel (See Hosea 4:12).


Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed:  he wept, and made supplication unto him.


2.    In prayer we:

a.    Grab hold of God:  “…and there wrestled with a man…” (Gen. 32:24; Matt. 6:9)

b.    Use energy and emotion as we communicate with God:  “…wrestled…” (Gen. 32:24; James 5:16)

c.    Are persistent:  “…until the breaking of day” (Gen. 32:24; I Thess. 5:17)

d.    Ask for a blessing:  “…I will not let thee go, except thou bless me” (Gen. 32:26; Matt. 7:7)

e.    Boldness:  “…I will not let thee go…” (Gen. 32:26; Heb. 4:16)

f.    Know that we can receive from God:  “…and he blessed him there” (Gen. 32:29; I John 5:14-15)

g.    Believe that we can prevail with God:  “…for as a prince hast thou power with God...and prevailed” (Gen. 32:28; James 1:3-5).


H.   Over the course of a lifetime, it is possible for people to change from bad to good (Gen. 32:27-28).


And he said unto him, What is thy name?  And he said, Jacob.  And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel:  for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.


1.     God first reminded him of his name, Jacob, deceiver or supplanter.



2.    Jacob was now different.  He was now Israel.

a.    Strong (4378):  He will rule as God

b.    BDB:  God prevails


I.     How do we harmonize Genesis 32:30 with John 1:18a?

1.     Genesis 32:30


And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel:  for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.


John 1:18a


No man hath seen God at any time…


2.    Answer: Jacob did not see the literal face of God.  He saw God manifested as a man (angel) (Gen. 32:24).


J.    The aftermath of wrestling with God is wonderful.

1.     There is wonder and awe.  I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved (Gen. 32:30).

2.    There is a rising sun.  And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him… (Gen. 32:31).

3.     There is a different man. 

a.    Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel… (Gen. 32:28).

b.    …and he halted upon his thigh (Gen. 32:31).