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by Margaret D. Mitchell
Week of March 30, 2014
"...Jacob thought, 'I will try to appease him by sending gifts ahead of me. When I see him in person, perhaps he will be friendly to me.' So the gifts were sent on ahead, while Jacob himself spent that night in the camp." -Genesis 32:20 (NLT)
The Hebrew word for appease is achapperah, which means to cover over, pacify, make propitiation. Webster’s defines appease as “to pacify, quiet or satisfy, especially giving in to the demands of.”
As you read this story, you will see that what Jacob was really giving into here was his own fear…
Jacob tried to appease his brother, Esau, with gifts because he feared Esau would try to kill him...
Jacob sent messengers ahead of himself to Esau (Gen. 32:5). But the messengers returned to Esau, reporting that Jacob had an army of 400 with him.
Desperately fearful, Jacob then turned to God in prayer, asking for protection and reminding God of His promise to him...
"O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. But You promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count’” (Gen. 32:11-12).
Jacob’s gifts of appeasement were elaborate ones he had worked for several years to acquire...
“200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 1530 female camels with their young, 40 cows, 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys, and 10 male donkeys.” (Gen. 32:14-15).
Jacob executed a secret appeasement strategy and enlisted his servants to carry it out for him because he was too afraid to do it himself...
“[Esau] divided these animals into herds and assigned each to different servants. Then he told his servants, 'Go ahead of me with the animals, but keep some distance between the herds.' He gave these instructions to the men leading the first group: 'When my brother, Esau, meets you, he will ask, "Whose servants are you? Where are you going? Who owns these animals?" You must reply, "They belong to your servant Jacob, but they are a gift for his master Esau. Look, he is coming right behind us."’ Jacob gave the same instructions to the second and third herdsmen and to all who followed behind the herds: 'You must say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. And be sure to say, "Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us."'"
What we see in Jacob’s appeasement plan to save his life is that it simply was unnecessary...
God answered Jacob’s prayer later in the night, while he was at his camp alone. A man (who was Jesus in spirit, Hosea 12:4-5) came to wrestle with him and blessed him: ''’Your name will no longer be Jacob,' the man told him. 'From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won'" (Gen. 32:28). Jacob’s strength and blessing of favor came from God. That’s all he needed to face his brother, Esau. They embraced and wept. Jacob was relieved. And Esau received Jacob’s appeasement gifts because Jacob insisted, even though they weren’t necessary (Gen. 33:4, 8-11).
How about you?
As believers, we know that Jesus made a way for our sins to be forgiven. He made propitiation and covers our sins so we don’t have to live in fear of mankind. Psalm 118:6 tells us, “The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” Romans 8:38 says, “If God be for us, who can be against us?" Have you struggled with appeasing others? Do you fear others will harm you if you don’t do what they expect? Do you give too much in unnecessary ways? Do you allow people to railroad over your boundaries? Disrespect you? Do you apologize for things that aren’t your fault, especially when you know you’ve done your best? Do you flatter others or charm them just to get them to like you? Do you secretly fear that others will reject you to the extent that you are willing to compromise your integrity and God’s precepts? If you discover that you’re more concerned with pleasing people than God, it may be time to get to the root of some self-worth and fear of rejection issues.
This requires honest soul-searching…
When did you first feel you were unworthy of respect, unworthy to have abundance, unworthy to come first? When you trace self-worth/rejection back like this, there are usually people whom you felt imposed unworthiness upon you. It’s time to forgive them. Then you need to forgive yourself for carrying their lies and corresponding behaviors into adulthood. Then repent of ungodliness and ask Holy Spirit to help you live in God’s truth of who He says you are. Your mind will need to be renewed with the gospel. Ask Holy Spirit to fill any voids of emptiness in you, so the enemy doesn’t entrap you with more of his lies going forward. Ask Him to heal your soul (your mind, heart and will).
Dig into the Bible and find out who God says you are...
Through Christ, you are righteous, you are whole, you are highly favored; your life is so valuable that it is now eternal; there is a mansion waiting for you in heaven along with rewards just for you from Father God. Father God sees you through His Son, Christ, Your Mediator, who makes intercession for you and makes you righteous. All sins that you have repented of are forgiven by God and seen no more by Him because He sees you through the blood veil of Christ. You have access to God’s power to do spiritual warfare and win of the enemy. You are victorious, even before you begin the battle! Mind renewal is a process. So stay in God’s word daily and pray and praise Him. And ask Him to help you. Jeremiah 29:13 assures us that when we seek God with all of our heart, we will find him. Don’t give up. Press through the fear to more of God’s truth by faith. You’ll see that he is faithful.
Overcome the stronghold…
Ask God to help you overcome your issues to the point that there's not even a crack in your foundation in Him. Shake off the darkness and declare (speak out loud) what God says about you. Ask Him to extinguish every voice in your soul that comes against His truth for you. Your faith will be built on what you hear. So speak it every day and ask Holy Spirit to lead you to His words of affirmation in the Bible. The Bible says to guard your heart, so keep your guard up around people. Choose to be around encouraging people as much as possible. And respond from the Holy Spirit to others instead of reacting emotionally to them. In this way, with God’s help, you will discipline yourself toward more holiness.
This devotional was adapted from Margaret's forthcoming book, "Enduring Grace." All rights reserved. Copyright 2014.