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Brothers At War – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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May 16, 2024 1:00 am

Brothers At War – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 16, 2024 1:00 am

God often humbles us to reconcile us to Himself—and to others. Only after Jacob encountered God was he ready to face his estranged brother. In this message, Pastor Lutzer outlines the steps we must take in a process of reconciliation. Are we willing to do whatever God expects of us to restore fellowship?

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. It would be nice if all disputes could be resolved, all conflicts reconciled.

In the real world, that's not always possible. But if resolution is possible, it should be pursued. Today, how Jacob and Esau finally faced one another after their long conflict. Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, I know you've encountered conflicts in your life. Have those experiences helped you grow in your faith?

Well Dave, the answer to your question is yes. I remember having to give to God hurt. I believed that I was wronged.

There was no way to resolve it. I went to God in prayer. I offered my feelings to God, asked him to take away the resentment and the anger. And I can say that it enabled me to understand the grace of God in the midst of hurt. We also have to understand that the person who does the hurting, however, is oftentimes someone who has no idea that they have hurt others. Or to even put it stronger, they wish that they had done more hurt. That's the nature of humanity. You know, we're making these messages available to you in permanent form because we believe that perhaps you have missed some of them and you also know people who need to listen to these messages. Here's what you can do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the sermon series when you've been wronged. Now what happens is Jacob, though, is on his way back and he is going to encounter Esau. And this comes to us now in chapter 32 of Genesis. And this is the place where Jacob is so full of fear.

He's full of fear and the reason is he knows that Esau might be willing to kill him and to even the score. So it says in chapter 32, Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, this is God's camp.

So he called the name of that place Mahanaim, which means the angels of God or God's camp. Jacob is wondering what to do and I think that he outlines for us a means by which we can be reconciled, steps that will help us in reconciliation. First of all, Jacob, to his everlasting credit, actually sends his brother a gesture of goodwill. We can't read the whole text, but Jacob asks that his messengers go on ahead and talk to Esau. They come back and they say Esau is there with 400 men and he's on his way. Jacob becomes even more terrified. So he sends him a bunch of animals as a present.

You can add them up in this chapter beginning at verse 13, about 550 different animals he sends to Esau on ahead as a gesture of goodwill. There's something about doing something nice for someone that you have wronged that begins to soften their heart. And maybe what that gesture does is it says to them, you know, I know that I've messed up.

I know that I'm the one who has done wrong and I'm trying to do you some good because I want your heart to be turned toward me. That's the first thing that Jacob does. Now also he sends ahead his wives and so forth.

He's showing trust, showing trust. Secondly, he meets God. He begins to pray. Chapter 32 verse 11, please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. And he begins to plead with God and pray as he has never prayed before that his brother's heart would be turned toward him.

In fact, he begins to pray so much that God eventually actually gives him a, an experience that has often been written about and meditated upon. And that is that a man begins to wrestle with Jacob when he is left alone at the Brook of Jabbok. You'll notice it says in verse 24, Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.

When the wrestling match began, Jacob in the night did not know who he was fighting with. Turns out that this actually was God. It was a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ that we've noticed elsewhere in the Old Testament. And he doesn't know who is fighting with him until his assailant touches his hip socket and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.

Verse 25. And then he begins to realize that, that he's in the presence of deity. Somehow, somehow that touch was so powerful.

It was so debilitating. It was so humiliating that Jacob knew I'm in the presence of someone greater than just a man. So Jacob asks him, what is your name? And he said, he said, why do you ask my name? You'll notice he says, then he said, let me go for the day has broken.

That's the assailant. But Jacob said, I will not let you go unless you bless me. And he said to him, what is your name? And he said, Jacob. In saying his name, Jacob was confessing cheater, heel grabber, deceptive. And he said, your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel for you have striven with God and with men. And you have prevailed the name Israel, a striver with God. Some people have interpreted it Prince of God.

What's going on here in the text? It's deserving of a message by itself, except to say that God was humbling him. God was bringing him to the point of humiliation and great need. Jacob now would not be able to depend upon any human strength as he goes to meet Esau. He's totally dependent upon God because God humbles and weakens all those whom he would really bless. Whether it's Paul's thorn in the flesh, whether it's an experience of sickness or a broken relationship, God always humbles and weakens those whom he intends to bless.

And so the story continues. Jacob is now limping, the scripture says, on his thigh, and he's going to meet Esau and he meets Esau, which leads to a third lesson that Jacob teaches us. First of all, he very graciously sent an olive branch ahead. Secondly, he met God. And thirdly, he greatly humbled himself. And notice that the text says seven times he bowed before Esau and he always said, I am your servant, Jacob.

So he honored him. And he says, if I have found favor in your sight, verse 10, then accept my present from my hand for I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God and you have accepted me. It's actually Esau that runs up and embraces Jacob as you read the text. Jacob is saying, I saw God last night and when I look into your face, I know that God answered my prayer because your disposition toward me, which is so amiable and so friendly and so forgiving, it is as if I am looking into the face of God. This is a God thing.

God has answered my prayer. And so Jacob and Esau are reconciled. There's something that Jacob should have done that he didn't.

He should have actually brought up the issue. He should have asked specifically for forgiveness, but he doesn't. It's as if the brothers understand what's going on. And Esau, of course, remembers all too well what happened. And so he's willing to forgive and to be reconciled. But there is an interesting twist in the rest of the chapter. Esau says, well, let's travel together.

Let's, let's go to Seir where I live and let's do it together. And Jacob says, no, no Esau, you know, we have to travel very slowly because we have some animals that are with young ones and you know, you, you go ahead to Seir and I'll meet you there. So Esau goes off to Seir and Jacob goes the opposite way. He goes north and we don't know whether or not the brothers ever met again.

Certainly scripturally there's no evidence that they did. So once again, is Jacob still up to his old tricks of deception? That's a good question to ask, but it's as if he's saying Esau, you know, you've been very nice to me, but I don't really trust you yet. I don't really trust you. You go your way and now that we've been reconciled, I'll go mine. And so the story ends, but it's really not the ending because later on, Jacob is going to have 10 sons, as we will learn next week, 10 sons who are going to lie to him.

His nature of cheating and deception is going to be multiplied in the lives of 10 of his children. Now there are two lessons that I want to conclude with today. The first is this, God sometimes uses a crooked stick to make a straight line. God sometimes uses a crooked stick to make a straight line because I have to ask you this question, who would you rather have as a neighbor, Jacob or Esau?

We might say to ourselves any day Esau, you know, Esau was the man's man. He liked to go hunting. He was the kind, you know, who wanted to be in the forest and he wasn't staying at home cooking lentil soup. He was, he was the kind who did what he wanted to do. The Bible says that he married two Hittite women who became a great means of grief to his parents. But as most firstborns, he did what he wanted to do to prove who he was. But he seemed to be a nice guy.

At least the text doesn't tell us that he was a cheater like his brother. Yet the Bible says that Esau was a profane man, a profane man, and he was profane because he despised his birthright. He despised his birthright.

He didn't care about whether or not the inheritance was going to go through him. Eventually Jesus Christ would be born through the person who bore the family line. And that's why today we say the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And we don't say the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau. But Esau didn't care.

He went ahead in his own way. But look at Jacob, cheater, liar, deceiver. And yet the difference was that in his lifetime, Jacob did encounter God. You study it and from time after time he's meeting God. God is coming to him. God came to him when he left, when he was sleeping at Bethel. God comes to him now. God communicates with him because there was a time in his life when he came to know Jehovah God.

And God had chosen him to be the one who would have the birthright, who would carry on the family line and all of the legal implications of the continuation of the family. So let's remember that sometimes, have you ever been surprised at whom God uses? Have you ever been shocked at the fact that somebody who wasn't exactly upright was yet used by God?

It doesn't justify their sins and their deceptions, but isn't it often true that God uses people whose lives are not as upright as they should be? Jacob spent all of his life trying to manipulate and to get what God intended to give him. What he would not do is trust God. When the first oracle came and I'm sure that his mother told him about it, that the elder shall serve the younger, he should have just said, God, I don't know how you're going to work this out, but I give it to you and I'm going to trust you instead.

What does he do? He figures out his own way to do what God wanted him to do. Just like we sometimes are. There are things that God wants to give us and we are insistent that we will get them our way. And the message of Jacob is God has to give those blessings to us his way and not ours.

So that's the first lesson. The second lesson is that reconciliation, reconciliation is God's work. It's God's work. First of all, God reconciles us to himself, doesn't he? The gospel of reconciliation. God was in Christ reconciling us to himself.

And today there may be somebody here who's never trusted Christ as savior. You're not reconciled to God. You know the lingo, you know the songs, you've heard the sermons, but you've never been drawn in by his love to receive him and be reconciled. I urge you today, be reconciled to God. Come in faith, come in humility, come as a sinner, but come to be forgiven and to be received. So reconciliation is God's work, but after we've received God's work, our first desire is to be reconciled to others. We should be willing to do whatever God expects us to do to be in fellowship with other people. As a matter of fact, this is so deeply birthed within us as a result of the work of the spirit and the new birth that Jesus even said on one occasion that if you cannot forgive those who have wronged you, your father can't forgive you. In other words, the relationship between human beings is the next vital relationship that we must deal with if we're to be fully in touch with God and have a conscience without offense. How important was this to Jesus? Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount, he said, if your brother offends you, go to him.

But he also said these words. He says, if you are going to give an offering to the temple and as you're on your way to the temple, you remember that your brother has need of you or rather that your brother has been offended or that he has been offended against you even if you are innocent. Jesus said, leave your gift there and go be reconciled to your brother and then come back and offer your gift. He's saying if you're the offender, go make it right.

If you're innocent but the other person has an offense against you, you make it right and then you come and offer your gift because your gift means nothing until you are reconciled with your brother. God is a God of reconciliation and he calls us today to be reconciled. The whole history of the human race oftentimes is a history of strife and anger and positioning and a desire to say, I'll separate myself from those who have hurt me. When we as believers should be coming together, forgiving, working toward reconciliation. You know, Jesus said these words. He says, where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. We sometimes use that for permitting. We say, well, if there are two or three people in permitting, Jesus is there among them.

It can be applied that way, but that's not the context. The context is if your brother has been offended and you are in the process of reconciliation and you are coming together in my name to be reconciled, there am I in the midst to help effect the reconciliation. As a pastor, I have to tell you that seldom have I ever experienced the power and the presence of God as greatly as when I'm counseling and reconciling. When you have a couple in your office and both of them are weeping and they're asking one another to forgive one another, it's just as if heaven comes down and you say, surely this is the work and the presence of God. God desires reconciliation.

We must pursue it even if it is unattainable. It must be pursued, but forgiveness must always be granted. You say, well, how do I know if I've really forgiven someone?

Well, thank you so much for asking. That's a wonderful question because that's what we're going to discuss next week. Next week, we're going to find out exactly whether or not you've forgiven those who have wronged you.

We're going to give you a test and you'll discover whether the answer is yes or no. Let's pray. Our Father, we pray in the name of Jesus that we who know you, who have been forgiven so much, we who have been reconciled to you, we ask in Jesus' name that you'll make us reconcilers. We pray today, Father, that if our brother has ought against us, whether it's been our fault or not, that we might go to him or to her, that we might be reconciled. Bring to our minds, oh Father, all of those issues with which we must deal so that our consciences may be clear that the work of your spirit may be unhindered and that the blessing of God which makes rich and adds no sorrow will be given to our families and to our church family. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Amen. Well, my friend, today I want you to take out all the time that you need to deal with issues that God has brought to your attention even as you have listened to this message. You know, we live in a world of hurt, but I have to tell you that it's always been a world of hurt.

It goes back to the creation story and of course Cain and Abel, and we have been emphasizing Jacob and Esau and their conflict and their partial reconciliation at least. And so what we need to do is to recognize that offenses come to us, but the question is, how do we relate to them? And that's why I believe that this sermon series is so critical, because if we walk around with those offenses in our hearts, what we'll discover is bitterness. We won't be able to get along in the Christian life.

We'll not be able to make much progress. That's why we are making this sermon series available to you. It's entitled When You've Been Wronged.

For a gift of any amount, it can be yours in permanent form. Here's what you do. Go to, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. And let me thank you in advance for your help as we continue to get these messages around the world. One of the things that we have discovered is that no matter where the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, it always lands on soil that is needy, because in the end, we are all alike, prone to sin, prone to anger, and we need the forgiveness of God so that we in turn can forgive others. So the title of the series of messages is When You've Been Wronged. Go to, or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337.

Thanks in advance for helping us. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. A man named Ken contacted us, concerned about his sister, wondering if demonic influence is playing a part in her life. He writes, My sister, who is a former Catholic but hasn't been to church in 30 years, has many problems, both health-wise and otherwise. I think she's had every medical ailment known to mankind except cancer so far. She's dealt with spiritual mediums in the past. Could this have affected her somehow? Well, Ken, of course I don't know your situation, so I need to be able to speak with hesitancy and humility here.

But the general answer is yes. When people are involved in the occult, it can have a tremendous effect on them. It may affect them emotionally, certainly it affects them spiritually, and it can also affect them physically. All that you need to do is to read the New Testament and see the accounts there of demonic spirits, how Jesus dealt with them, and you can see the very debilitating effect that they can have on the life of anyone. Now the question is, how do you approach your sister? If you come to her and tell her just what I've told you, she probably will be resentful. So what you need to do is to ask her a lot of questions. You might find that she is more open about these matters than you might think she is.

I've discovered that about people who have been into the occult. Now it could be that she will simply rebuff you and say that this has nothing to do with her problems. What you need to do then is to pray for her, maybe give her something to read that will help her to see that this is indeed a possibility, that she could be affected by her past. And of course, the very best thing you could do, if she would allow you, is to lead her to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Then the two of you could pray together, you could rebuke any evil of the past, and you could go on from there. Bottom line, Ken, keep praying, keep thinking, keep loving, keep trying to understand, and let us pray that God may indeed bring your sister through this. Ken, thank you for sharing your situation. We just pray that God will use you in your sister's life. If you'd like to have your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Whether due to some imagined or real hurt, or to an inheritance wrongly divided, some family feuds go on for generations. Unless the cycle is broken, hatred can consume blood relatives.

Is there a way out? Next time, join us for Family Feuds, Seeing God in Injustice. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-16 02:10:05 / 2024-05-16 02:18:57 / 9

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