Good evening, and welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the book of Genesis. Tonight is study #1 of Genesis 32, and we are going to read Genesis 32:1-5:
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 the name of that place Mahanaim. And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom. And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now: And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.
I will stop reading there. We are moving on in our study in the book of Genesis. You know, Genesis is a very big book. I realized that before we started, as I saw it was 50 chapters, but we are making progress, verse by verse and chapter by chapter, by God’s grace. Now we have entered chapter 32, and we are well beyond the halfway point, and we will just keep going. As some of you are aware, we have been studying Genesis for several years, and we will probably be studying it for a few years still to come. I am learning a great deal as we go through this book. It is really an excellent book for us to study since it is the first book of the Bible, and so much of the Bible is based on the things we read in the book of Genesis.
In Genesis 32, we are going to read about this strange encounter between Jacob and the angels of God that met him. We will look at that in this study, and then much of the chapter is going to describe the prearrangement Jacob made before he met Esau, and the gifts that Jacob sent to him. Then there is the actual meeting and what happens afterwards, and that will take up much of chapter 32. In this chapter we will also read about Jacob and his wrestling match with the Lord, which is a very interesting historical encounter between God and Jacob when Jacob will meet God face-to-face, in that sense, and they wrestled until the breaking of the day. We will see what that has to do with, and then when we finally get toward the end of the chapter (after the wrestling match), God will change Jacob’s name to “Israel.” So this chapter has some very important matters to disclose to us, and the Lord has written very essential truths having to do with Jacob and the name change to “Israel,” and with some other things we will read about. That is just a general overview of this chapter.
Let us read Genesis 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 the name of that place Mahanaim.
Apparently this was an encounter or meeting of Jacob with “the angels of God,” and we will try to understand who they are as they met together. Jacob saw them, and he said, “This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.” The word “Mahanaim” is a related word to “host” in the Hebrew, and it is a word that I think identifies with “two hosts.”
The word “host” that we find in verse 2 is the same word translated as “bands” in Genesis 32:7:
Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;
The word “bands” is the word “hosts.” Also, it is the word translated as “company” in Genesis 32:8:
And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.
Then it says in Genesis 32:10:
…and now I am become two bands.
So back in verse 1, he named the place where he met God’s host as “Mahanaim,” but in that word “Mahanaim” we find the idea of “two hosts” or “two companies,” or “two bands,” because this is the place where he divided his family into two parts out of fear of his brother Esau and what he might do. Remember, Esau was angry at Jacob when he left. Esau was furious at him and wanted to kill him, so the last encounter of Jacob with his twin brother was of a man who might very well kill him, so he was fearful that Esau would attack them. So if he attacked one of the bands, the other could try to escape.
So we are told that Jacob went on his way. He was leaving Galeed, after the covenant (heap of witness) was made between Laban and him, and he was continuing his journey to his father’s house in the land of Canaan.
As far as the spiritual picture, we should look at this chapter as a new portrait in God’s portrait gallery. That is a good analogy that Mr. Camping used to use concerning how God can paint spiritual pictures, and He can paint different spiritual pictures from one verse to the next, so we always have to be ready to move on to the next picture in the portrait gallery. And sometimes a spiritual picture can cover a whole chapter, or even several chapters. But here, we will look at it as an “empty frame” in which God will draw and illustrate for us.
So Jacob went on his way, and when we see the word “way” in the Bible it is not an incidental word. You know, we use little words like these often without really considering that, but God has thought out and considered every word in the Bible, and He has placed it where it is because it will fit in with the Gospel presentation and spiritual meaning.
The word “way” is used many times in the Bible in a consistent manner that teaches “the way of God,” or it can teach “the way of the wicked,” or the way of the world. There are two different “ways” that come into view, and we are used to seeing this, and we might think of what we read in Matthew 7:13-14:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Broad is the way that leads to destruction. Narrow is the way that leads to life. Those are the only two “ways.” One is expansive – very broad and wide – and all kinds of people can comfortably follow that path because it is basically everything else other than the way of God, the narrow way. If you want to go the route of “religion,” you can be a Muslim, a Buddhist, or a professed Christian, and you can go that broad way of religion down the road of destruction.
If you want to follow a secular path, you can follow that. You can say, “Well, I do not care for God. I am agnostic. I just trust science, and I trust things I can see, hear, feel and touch, and not invisible things like God.” That is basically the way of atheism as well. There is that leeway where the broad way that leads to destruction is very inclusive. It is very inclusive! It is very welcoming: “Yes, all can come under the banner of the road to destruction. We will invite you in, and we will welcome you, and you can feel very comfortable. You can take your ease. No one is going to impress upon you. You will not feel claustrophobic. If you go down that narrow and strait way, it is so difficult, so grievous, and so full of affliction and trouble. But here in the broad way, you can live as you please, and do as you want, and do not even worry about what lies ahead. Sightsee for a while. Go ahead, and just take a casual stroll. And forget about the final destination. Eat, drink, and be merry! Take your ease, and we will all go happily together to everlasting destruction.” Of course they do not say that last part, but that is the truth. And that is the “way” of false religions and false gospels, and the way of secular understanding. It is the way of the atheist. It is the way of the person that would say, “I do not even get into that stuff or think about any of it. I do not classify myself as anything, and I just live my life.” But they, too, are on that broad way that leads to destruction.
That narrow way that only a few find is the way of Christ, and it was Jacob’s way. Another familiar verse is in John 14:2-6:
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Jesus Himself is “the way,” the truth, and the life. And those three things have a great deal in common. Yes, they all identify with Christ, as He is the way, the truth, and the life. And eternal life is in Christ. He is the essence of life. It is interesting, if we go back to Genesis, in Genesis 3 after the initial fall of man into sin in the Garden of Eden when God sent man forth to till the ground from whence he was taken, it says in the last verse, Genesis 3:24:
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
It is a flaming sword, and when we look to the Bible to define its own terms, it says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword.” A flaming sword indicates an angry, wrathful Word, and an angry wrathful God. Because of man’s sin, this flaming sword is the wrath of God that is declared by the Word of God, the Bible, and it is that which keeps the way of the tree of life. If you could go down that road and reach the tree of life, you would live forever. That is why it is called “the tree of life.” But in order to reach the tree, you have to go through the flaming sword, and the fire would certainly strike you dead. And if not the fire, then the sword itself would slay you. In other words, the only way to get to the tree of life is to be killed, but if you are killed as a finite, fallen creature, you will remain dead, and this is why the Lord Jesus Christ went that “way.” He was the One who was slain and smitten by the Law of God. The whole Bible, the Word, is the Law, so the Word of God slew Christ. It was a flaming sword because it was done out of God’s fiery anger toward sin. The Lord Jesus bore the sins of His elect people, and the fiery Law of God struck Him dead. But due to the fact that He is Almighty God, He was able to pay the penalty of death, and then rise up from the dead to life, declared to be the Son of God, the firstborn from the dead. And now the way to the tree of life is “doable.” It is passable for those whose sins He took, so the elect children of God follow “the way” to the tree of life, and we do not have to be concerned about the flaming sword. The flaming sword has been satisfied toward us. But all those whose sins were not laid upon Christ will be slain by the flaming sword of God’s wrath if they attempt to go that way. And that is what is happening now in the Day of Judgment to all the unsaved inhabitants of the earth.
The tree of life is the tree that is mentioned in Revelation 22:1-2:
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
The Lord Jesus Christ is “the tree of life.” He is the One who produces the twelve fruits (the twelve tribes of Israel, or the twelve apostles of the Lamb) The fruit that was brought in during the early rain was the firstfruits unto God, and the fruit that was brought in during the Latter Rain was the final fruit of the harvest, the great multitude that God saved. So the way to the tree of life is very important language, and we see a reference to that when we read, “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.” Jacob went on his way, just as we read in Exodus 18, where we find the same word “way.” It says in Exodus 18:19-20:
Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.
Many people have the same question that Thomas had in John 14: “How can we know the way?” Jesus had told him, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” But Thomas said, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” He was thinking naturally. Jesus then said, “I am the way.” Where can we find this narrow way that is Christ? Where do we look? What country do we go to find that narrow road? Is it in India? Is it in China? Is it in the United States? And then once you are on it, you can see the path ahead and just follow it. But how do you get on that way? Let us go to Psalm 25 because this is the most important question there is: “Am I on the road that shows the way to life?” It says in Psalm 25:8-9:
Good and upright is JEHOVAH: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.
Then it say sin Psalm 25:12:
What man is he that feareth JEHOVAH? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.
Or we can go to Psalm 119, and we will see “the way” is being defined in a clearer way. It says in Psalm 119:29:
Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.
And we all know that “way” very well. That is the way of Satan, and the way of the world, the way of mankind. Deceitfulness, lies, and falsehood are the way of the world. Again, it says, in Psalm 119:29-30:
Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.
It is the way of truth. They are joined together, and if you go the way of truth, you will certainly find life. So those three things are closely connected.
We also read in Psalm 119:32:
I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart. Teach me, O JEHOVAH, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
It is just as Moses’ father-in-law told him in Exodus 18 when he said, “And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk…” Teach sinners in the way. What is the way? It is the way of God’s commandments, which are the way of His statutes, the way of truth. It is the way of the Bible, the Law of God as we read from Genesis through Revelation. We learn, by God’s grace, if we are one of His people. We learn doctrine. We learn statutes. We learn commandments. If we are learning, it shows us the direction. We know that we are to remove our foot from God’s holy day, so we know what to do on Sunday. Husbands are to love their wives, and wives are to submit to their husbands. So husbands and wives know what to do. Children are to obey their parents. So children know what to do. We are to love our neighbor, so we know what to do with our neighbor. The Bible directs our footsteps. It guides us in our daily way of living. We move, one step in front of the other, and the Word of God lightens the pathway so we can see the next step to take, and we follow. When the Word of God, the way that leads to eternal life, says that we were to get out of the churches, we did not argue. The church age was over, and it was no longer “the way.” It was no longer the narrow way. You cannot continue on the narrow way that leads to life while remaining in the churches. Then we take the next step, and the next step. And if God says the door is shut, or if God says this or that, we agree because it is God’s Word, not ours. He knows the way that lies before us, and what we are called upon to do is to follow. We are to follow Christ. Take up your cross, and follow the Lord. And Christ is the Word. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Therefore when we follow the Word, we will be following the Lord Jesus Christ.