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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. (Genesis 33:1)
Now What Do I Do?
We are talking about how Jacob enters the land of Canaan from Padan-aram through the guidance of God. Jacob runs away to Padan-aram from Canaan in order to elude his older brother, Esau, then returns 20 years later. It has been 20 years and he was very curious as to how his brother’s heart would be. 20 years earlier, Esau had tried to kill Jacob for stealing the birthright of the first-born and the blessing. “What will Esau think of me? Has his rage calmed down? What if he tries to kill me again?” Because he had that heart, he first wanted to know his brother’s heart and sent four servants to say, “Jacob is returning to meet you.” But the servants returned and said, “We relayed your message, and your brother is on his way with 400 men.” Upon hearing this, Jacob became afraid, thinking, “My older brother could have come alone, but coming with 400 men surely means that he is trying to kill me. He will destroy my entire family! I do have to see him, but now what do I do?” Jacob agonized about this and then came up with a plan. He would first give many presents to Esau to melt his heart before he met him. He prepared sheep, cows, donkeys, and many others gifts to send before him. In case his brother would still be angry and attack, Jacob divided his household and cattle into two companies and thought, “One will escape if the other is smitten.” He did not group his children into one, but arrayed the maid-servants’ sons first, then others, then others, and made them to pass on.
Useless Things that Arise from Distrust
Jacob has two methods with which to meet his brother Esau. One is his method and the other is the promise of God. When Jacob was going to Padan-aram from Canaan, God promised Jacob at Bethel, “Wherever you go I will be with you, protect you, watch over you, and will not leave you until you return to this land.” This promise remained in Jacob’s memory. This story is interesting because, although Esau was bringing 400 men with him, God had made a promise to Jacob. God promised Jacob that He would protect and be with him until he returns to Canaan. If Jacob clearly believed in this promise, then God would protect him. What does it matter that Esau is bringing 400 men? What does it matter if Esau is bringing swords or bringing spears? If this were the case, Jacob would not have to use his human methods to prepare presents and to have one company escape when another is smitten. If God keeps the words of His promise, why would Jacob have to present gifts to Esau in order to melt his heart and think of escaping with one company? Because he ultimately did not believe that God would keep His promise that He would protect him, because he distrusted Him, he tried to protect his self. When do we need human methods? Human methods are evidence of faithlessness in God. Jacob prepared gifts to present to Esau but his heart was not at peace. There was no guarantee that the gifts would melt Esau’s heart to keep Jacob from death. He planned to escape with one company if another was smitten, but still he had no peace in his heart. How far could he run with children when there are 400 soldiers chasing after him? He had only chosen these methods because he had no other way. Then Jacob finally met Esau. 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 hand maids. Jacob stood before his brother, Esau. And rather than bring swords or spears forward, Esau fell upon Jacob’s neck and tearfully embraced him. Ultimately, everything Jacob did was all in vain. That had all come from distrust. God promised that He would protect Jacob no matter what he does and because of that promise He was protecting Jacob and caring for him. Even when Laban was coming after Jacob, God told Laban, “Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob, either good or bad,” and protected Jacob. From Another View . . .
This only seems like an ordinary story. However, in the world today, many people select these two paths Jacob had chosen in their spiritual lives. One is believing in the promise of God, and the other is doing it yourself because of unbelief in the promise of God. You being at work is not faith. In the Bible, Saul was thrown away by God for giving an offering to God. Why did he give the offering? God said He would protect him, but when he felt that that was not happening, he thought he should have God protect him and gave the offering. This offering is of distrust and thus, Saul was thrown away by God. This is also true with our spiritual life. There are many things that happen because we do not have faith to believe in God, because of distrust. There are many people who especially agonize over coming before God because of sin. There are many who pray, “God, I am a sinner. Forgive my sins. I hope you will wash my sins away.” The image of realizing their sins and asking for forgiveness appears truthful and beautiful, but from another view, they are praying for forgiveness because they are unable to believe that all of our sins have been forgiven through God sending Jesus to this earth and to the cross.
God did not just send Jesus to this earth to die on the cross just for the sake of Him dying on the cross. Jesus prayed to God before He hung on the cross. “Father, if you will, I want to avoid this cup. But let it not be by my will, but through the will of the father.” Although Jesus was sincerely seeking, God did not have Jesus avoid the cross, but had Him bear it. Why was this so? It was because there is no other way to redeem our sins other than the cross. Therefore, the death of Jesus on the cross was not a vain death, but a death that washed all of our sins away as white as snow. If we believe this, we have to be free from sin. “I am free. It is true I sinned, but my sins are washed away. I am justified. I am holy.” Faith is going before God with this free heart. But people today do not have the faith to believe in God and therefore set up their own methods. They have the heart, “I will pray a little better, deeply realize my wrongfulness, and come before God with sorrow and agony. Then God will be pleased.”
When the Line of What You Do and What God Does Is Unclear
The story of Jacob shows the path of faith to us. Jacob had two ways before him that he could have taken. There was his method and there was the faith to believe in the promise of God. If Jacob believed the promise of God who said, “I am with you and will protect, care for, and never leave you no matter where you go,” he would not have needed his own ways at all. Likewise, if we have the clear faith that the blood Christ shed on the cross washed our sins away, there is nothing we have to do for sin. It is because Jesus already finished sin on the cross. But today, many people are unsure of their faith to believe in the crucifixion of Jesus washing their sins away. They thus pray, asking for forgiveness, and they try to do good themselves. They try to add their methods to this problem of having sins forgiven. These methods are like the methods of Jacob to prepare gifts for Esau, and run away with one company when another is smitten. Jacob thinks that he is doing well, but all of these are from distrusting the promise. God promised to protect and to never leave Jacob no matter where he would go. What is the matter if Esau is bringing 400 men? What problem is it if 4,000 men were being brought, and what problems would there be if he were bringing 40,000 men? “I am fine if God protects me! There is nothing to worry about!” If Jacob believed this, why would he prepare gifts and why would he try to escape with one of his divided companies if the other was to be smitten? Ultimately, because of his distrust in the promise, Jacob had to prepare gifts for Esau, and set up the plan to escape with one company. The problem is that our spiritual lives are this way. When we do not have faith in the fact that God is for us, we end up using our methods, our ways, and our means. Being faithful to your church, building chapels, and giving much offering may seem like great things, but they are nothing in the eyes of God. If our sins could be washed away with these things, or if these things could make us righteous, Jesus would not have been crucified. God knew that realizing our sins or acting with our zeal would not be good enough. Thus, He sent His son, Jesus, to be crucified. But we are unclear about this line. Because we are unclear about what we do and what God does, we think, “I should still do something,” in our hearts. This is from distrust.
If You Believe . . .
Loving folks, spiritual life is believing in God. It is believing in Jesus. How do you believe in God? How do you believe in Jesus? It is believing that Jesus washed all your sins away. If Jesus perfectly took care of all your sins on the cross, there is nothing I you have to do for sins. Straining and laboring and sincerely praying to have your sins washed away may appear to be good and godly. But people do these things ultimately because they do not have faith that the blood of Jesus forgave their sins. Yesterday, I called my wife as I was coming home from Daeduk Retreat Center. “Honey, I left at 11 o’clock and I think I will be at home around 2 o’clock in the afternoon.” “Really? It’s a little late, but I’ll have lunch ready for you so come home quickly.” On our way home, we stopped at a service area. They sold lots of food there, but I did not have any although I was hungry. I had a cup of coffee with the brothers and said, “Let’s go home. They have lunch prepared for us,” and started heading home. Because of traffic, we arrived at home a little past two. My wife had prepared a delicious meal and we enjoyed it. If I am unable to believe that my wife prepared lunch, I would say, “Let’s get something to eat here,” at the service area. However, because I clearly believe what my wife said, although I was a little hungry and although there was a lot of food there, I was able to hold off, go home, and eat. That is faith. Suppose my wife prepared all the food, but I say this upon coming home. “Honey, I already ate.” “What? I prepared for you . . . .” “I thought maybe you wouldn’t prepare anything.” “No, I said I would prepare lunch for you.” “Yes, but how can I believe that?” If this happened, how upset would my wife be? When we read the Bible closely, this is exactly how our faith is. If the Bible says that God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to this earth and forgave our sins, then we have to believe that. If it says that Jesus washed our sins as white as snow on the cross, then we have to believe that. If it says that God does not remember our sins, we have to believe that. If we believe this, there is nothing we have to do for sins at all. It is not that keeping the law or zealously serving God, itself, is bad. But because one cannot believe that God washed his sins away, he prays to have his sins washed and tries to take care of the problem of sin himself. This is wrong. These things appear to be truthful to you, but in the eyes of God, these things are from distrust. Saul sincerely gave the offering, but it was an offering he gave because he could not believe that God would protect him.
I Believe that the Blood of Jesus Forgave This Sin Also
People believe in their own thoughts. They do not believe the Word of God. The main character of the 66 books of the Bible is Jesus Christ. It was prophesied that Christ would come to earth to deliver us from sin, and according to that promise, Jesus came to this earth in the body of a man. Then, according to the promise of God, He was crucified and forgave all of our sins. Everyone, why do churches today have crosses perched on their buildings? It signifies the death of Jesus. It means that Jesus died for our sins. If Jesus died for our sins, then it is clear that our sins are washed away. If our sins are clearly and perfectly washed away, then there is nothing we have to do for sin. Jesus finished everything that needed to be done. But people ask for their sins to be washed away again because they do not believe that their sins have been washed away. I am still lacking and weak. At times, I make mistakes and commit sins. However, I do not ask for my sins to be forgiven. I do not because it is so clearly recorded in the Bible that my sins are forgiven at the cross. “God, I do not know why I am like this. I have these kinds of shortcomings, but I surely believe that even this sin was washed away through the blood of Jesus.” In the Old Testament, Israelites were stoned to death for disobeying the Word, bitten to death by fiery serpents, killed by the earth swallowing them, burnt to death . . . . There are many stories of them being cursed. I was supposed to receive this kind of destruction, but Jesus died in my place on the cross. That death on the cross ended all the curse and destruction I was to receive, and ended all my sins. I clearly believe this. Thus, although I am lacking and weak, I come before God boldly with the faith that He is with me. Regardless of what I face, I have the faith, “This is not me going through this alone. God is with me. God helps me,” and therefore, I can always boldly keep my heart toward God.
Now Let Go of Everything You Are Doing
Once again, Jacob had two ways with which to meet Esau when Esau was bringing 400 men with him. One way was to believe in the promise of God, and the other was the human way; to try to melt Esau’s heart. The second way is unnecessary if you have the faith to believe in God. He needed this second way because he did not have faith in God. This is true with our spiritual lives as well. There are so many things we do because we do not have faith in Jesus. If you believe Jesus forgave your sins on the cross, there is nothing you have to do for sin. Everything already ended on the cross. However, people do not believe this truth. Loving folks, at this very moment, leave everything you are doing behind and believe what Jesus has done. What Jesus has done is the most perfect. Believe that your sins are forgiven through the crucifixion of Jesus. Although in your thoughts it seems your sins are not forgiven and it feels like your sins remain, do not believe your thoughts but believe the words of the Bible. The Bible said, I have blotted out . . . as a cloud thy sins: return unto me. (Isaiah 44:22) It is telling us to return because our sins are all washed away. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was cruised for our iniquities. (Isaiah 53:5) I hope you will believe that the death of Jesus, the sacrifice for us, did not half-heartedly take care of our sins, but has perfectly made them as white as snow. From time to time, you may feel guilty or have problems with sin in your heart, but you should say, “It is true I have sinned, I am dirty and evil, but this sin is also washed because Jesus died for all of these sins. I am clean,” and come to God boldly by faith. If you are not this way, but feel bold when you do well and do not feel bold when you do wrong, that is not faith. The Bible is teaching us this truth through Jacob. I hope you will all have the faith to believe in God’s promise.