© Jeff Stacey | Last updated: 4 November 2016
4B27. God responded to them:In grace, God often reaffirmed His Covenantal declarations and promises to them and began to fulfil these in various ways, making Himself known TO and THROUGH them
4B27(a) God made a further Covenantal promise to Abraham when he reached Canaan
Abraham had fully obeyed God’s command and migrated to Canaan Gen 12:5b. God then appeared to him at Shechem and made His additional Covenantal promise. Despite the Canaanites occupying the land Gen 12:6b God promised that He was going to give the Land of Canaan to Abraham’s offspring! Gen 12:7a. God later confirmed this promise as a Covenantal declaration [4A8(b)(ii)].
4B27(b) God was silent
There was no immediate response by God to Abraham.
4B27(c) God repeated His Covenantal promise to Abraham, to give Canaan to his descendants as their possession forever
God again spoke to Abraham after he and Lot had separated Gen 13:14. For a second time He gave His Covenantal promises to Abraham that He was going to give the whole of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants forever and that they would be countless! Gen 13:15-16. God virtually told Abraham to claim Canaan by walking through all of it!! Gen 13:17.
Abraham responded by again migrating south to near Mamre at Hebron and building another altar to Yahweh there Gen 13:18. God was making Himself known TO and THROUGH Abraham and beginning to fulfil His declarations and promises to him.
4B27(d) God appeared to Abraham and reassured him
This was a fitting climax to Abraham’s encounters with the nine warring tribal kings, Melchizedek the “king of righteousness” and the king of evil Sodom! It also responded to Abraham’s acknowledgment of God as the “Most High” to whom he had sworn an oath.
God was continuing to make Himself known TO and THROUGH Abraham and fulfil His declarations and promises to him.
4B27(e) Because Abraham believed God’s Covenantal promise, God “credited it to him as righteousness”
Because Abraham believed God’s promise of countless descendants, God “credited it to him as righteousness” Gen 15:6. This was a profoundly significant statement. It indicated the basis of GRACE that enabled God’s ongoing relationship with him [4A11(b)(i.i, ii)]. This was the same as for Enoch and Noah who “walked faithfully with God” [3A11(b)(ii)]. Just as with them, God was making Himself known TO and THROUGH Abraham positively [4A11(b)(ii)].
4B27(f) God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, then reaffirmed His Covenantal promises to Abraham with an oath
At the last moment the Angel of Yahweh intervened and stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac! Gen 22:11-12a. God instead provided a ram for the sacrifice, which Abraham acknowledged Gen 22:13,14. The Angel then said that God now knew that Abraham “feared God” Gen 22:12b. So Abraham had passed his greatest “heart-test” with a 100% score! This was the climax of his whole journey to total faith in God.
The Angel then declared God’s oath that because Abraham had obeyed Gen 22:15-16,18b God would surely fulfil His promises to Abraham Gen 22:17 and accomplish His primary purpose THROUGH his offspring! Gen 22:18a.
4B27(g) God affirmed Isaac’s faithfulness by reassuring him and repeating His promises to him
Following soon after Isaac’s declaration of faith in God’s promises, God appeared to him and reassured him of His presence Gen 26:22b,24. Then His previous promises Gen 26:2-3a,4a of blessing and increased descendants were repeated Gen 26:24c.
4B27(h) God soon appeared to Jacob at Bethel on his journey to Harran and reaffirmed to him His Covenantal declarations and promises
God reaffirmed to Jacob His Covenantal declarations and promises to Abraham of countless descendants Gen 28:14a and possession of the Land of Canaan Gen 28:13b. He further declared that THROUGH Jacob He would accomplish His primary purpose! Gen 28:14b.
God also promised Jacob personally that He would be with him and would watch over him in all his journeying, finally bringing him back safely to Canaan after fulfilling all that He had promised him Gen 28:15.
4B27(j) God blessed Jacob as He had promised. He gave him a large family and prospered him
In the space of thirteen years in Harran, God had blessed Jacob and given him eleven sons and one daughter! This had rapidly begun to fulfil His Covenantal promise of countless descendants Gen 28:14a although the way it came about was far from ideal. Despite Laban’s deceptions and exploitation, God also gave Jacob many livestock and servants while Laban’s fortunes had dwindled Gen 31:1.
Jacob’s relationship with Laban was deteriorating Gen 31:2,5a. God then commanded Jacob to return to Canaan immediately and again promised to be with him Gen 31:3,13b. God acknowledged Laban’s exploitation of Jacob Gen 31:12b and reminded him of his vow made at Bethel Gen 31:13a.
In grace, God had both reaffirmed His Covenantal declarations and promises to Jacob and begun to fulfil them in various ways.
4B27(k) Jacob had finally been able to leave with Laban’s blessing. Then the angels of God met him!
As Jacob and his household travelled on, the angels of God startled him when they suddenly met him! Gen 32:1b. Jacob reacted by saying “this is the camp of God” and named the place Mahanaim meaning “two camps” Gen 32:2. Was this because he thought God was confirming that His presence was with Jacob’s camp and not Laban’s? Or in view of the immediately following references to two camps Gen 32:7,10b in his coming encounter with Esau Gen 32:6 were the angels forewarning him?
Whatever the meaning, the facts were that God had enabled Jacob’s whole group to leave Laban safely and even peacefully. Then as they travelled, God reassured Jacob of His ongoing presence with them by sending His angels to meet him on the way! Gen 32:1.
God was continuing to fulfil His declarations and promises to Jacob.
4B27(m) God’s showdown with Jacob
God responded in a way that showed this was His “showdown” with Jacob! Jacob had sent on ahead all of his livestock and household to the other side of the Jabbok river Gen 32:22-23. Then he was left alone and he wrestled all that night until daybreak Gen 32:24 with a “man” who was God (!) Gen 32:28b. But he/He could not (?!) overpower Jacob so instead He injured Jacob’s hip! Gen 32:25. Yet Jacob still would not let the “man” go (??!!) “unless you bless me” Gen 32:26.
The meaning of this bizarre scenario has to be clarified (if possible…!). Jacob was obviously in an extremely acute heart-testing situation. To make matters worse he had become lame in the wrestle! He apparently realised that the “man” was actually God in the form of a man Gen 32:30. Yet Jacob still persisted in the wrestle in order to get God’s blessing that he now desperately wanted!
It appears that God’s purpose in this showdown was to bring Jacob to rely upon God only, to be totally committed to Him and to express this openly! The key question for Jacob was this: what was he really relying on for deliverance from Esau? Was he depending on all his own complicated schemes for survival? Or was he looking only to God to answer his desperate prayer and trusting in God’s Covenantal promises to him? Or was he relying on both God and his own schemes?
Jacob (meaning “deceiver” or “supplanter”) had a history of scheming and deception in order to receive God’s blessing. Yet with determination he now prayed and wrestled directly with God in order to gain His blessing. Finally God stated that Jacob had prevailed, so renamed him “Israel” meaning “he struggles with God”! Gen 32:27-28. His new name was meant to be his God-given badge of triumph, superceding his past history! God then blessed Jacob as he had earnestly sought Gen 32:29b.
God was with Jacob as He had promised. He peacefully intervened when Jacob met Esau next day Gen 33:3. Esau showed no hostility. Instead he greeted Jacob with great affection! Gen 33:4. Joyfully Jacob’s caravan was saved from this second threatening situation on their journey back to Canaan. It was actually a fulfilment of God’s declaration that Jacob had “overcome” in his wrestles with people Gen 32:28b.
Jacob did openly acknowledge God and His blessings to Esau three times Gen 33:5b,10b,11b. He even said that seeing Esau’s face was “like seeing the face of God” Gen 33:10b (that is, peniel. Jacob was making a direct connection with the place where he had wrestled with God the previous night).
4B27(n) God dramatically protected Jacob’s household. God also reaffirmed His Covenantal promises to Jacob and His renaming of Jacob as Israel
In response to Jacob’s obedience God brought His “terror” upon all the surrounding towns and no-one pursued Jacob’s household as they traveled to Bethel! Gen 35:5. So Jacob need not have feared revenge attacks from the locals Gen 34:30b. Those concerns were unfounded due to God’s presence with him as promised. Jacob had seen this many times previously and again in this powerful intervention.
Using almost the same wording Gen 35:10a the narrative then repeated the renaming and blessing of Jacob at Peniel Gen 32:28a. It also repeated the reaffirming of God’s promises to him Gen 35:11,12 as previously at Bethel Gen 28:13-14a. This emphasised that God had indeed brought Jacob “full circle” when he came again to Bethel, as He had promised Gen 28:15.
God was now requiring more than the conditional vow Jacob had made originally at Bethel Gen 28:20-21. He commanded Jacob to build an altar to Him there to fully honour Him.
God had intended Jacob’s journey from Canaan to Harran and back to be also a journey from reliance upon himself and his scheming, to acknowledgment of God, wholehearted commitment to Him and reliance upon His promises.
4B27(p) God was with Joseph, giving him success and favour despite his adverse circumstances
God had overruled the hateful and murderous intentions of Joseph’s half-brothers so that he survived and ended up in Egypt Gen 50:19-20.
God honoured Joseph’s faithfulness to Him in Egypt in various ways, as follows:-
# God’s favour was upon him in Potiphar’s service Gen 39:2. So Potiphar put him in charge of his whole household Gen 39:3-4. God then continued His blessings on all of Potiphar’s household Gen 39:5. God was making Himself known THROUGH Joseph even TO a pagan Egyptian nobleman!
# When Joseph was unjustly imprisoned, God continued to be with him and gave him favour with the prison warden Gen 39:20-21,23b. Joseph was put in charge of the prisoners and God gave him success as he carried out these responsibilities diligently Gen 39:22-23a. God was again making Himself known THROUGH Joseph even TO a pagan Egyptian prison warden.
# Similarly God gave Joseph correct interpretations of Pharaoh’s dreams Gen 41:15-16,25,28,32. This led Pharaoh to acknowledge that God had made known to Joseph the interpretation of his dreams Gen 41:38-39. God was again making Himself known THROUGH Joseph even TO the pagan Egyptian Pharaoh! As the direct result of this, Pharaoh made Joseph second only to himself in authority over all Egypt in order to prepare for the drought years! Gen 41:40,44. Joseph later acknowledged that this was all God’s doing, for His merciful purposes Gen 45:5-8, 50:19-20.
It was apparent that God had made Himself known TO Joseph. Then in response to Joseph’s consistently wholehearted commitment to Him, God had repeatedly made Himself known THROUGH Joseph. This was in accord with His Covenantal commission [4A11(b)]. It was even one fulfilment of His promise that all nations would be blessed through Abraham’s descendants [4A3(c)(ii)].
4B27(q) God honored Joseph as he honorably administered Egypt
# As the drought worsened, Joseph was seen as the rescuer by Pharaoh, all Egypt and the surrounding peoples Gen 41:55-57. This of course would have made known TO them what his God was like.
# Joseph lived to 110 and saw his great-grandchildren, being further blessings of God upon him Gen 50:22-23
In hindsight Joseph declared that this had all been intended by God in order to save people’s lives in the severe drought Gen 45:5,8. This especially included his own half-brothers and their families! Gen 50:20-21. It was also confirmed to him by the fact that the dreams he had when he was seventeen Gen 37:7,9 were fulfilled when his brothers had all bowed down to him in Egypt Gen 42:6b,9a, 43:26b,28b, 44:14b, 50:18a. He knew that the interpretation of such dreams was from God as was their fulfilment Gen 40:8b, 41:16.
4B27(r) God spoke TO Jacob in a vision and reaffirmed His Covenantal promises to reassure him
Jacob offered sacrifices to God as he set out for Egypt Gen 46:1. God then spoke TO him in a vision Gen 46:2. He assured Jacob of His presence with him and repeated His Covenantal promises that He would make his descendants into a great nation and bring them back to Canaan Gen 46:3-4. Later Jacob acknowledged that God had allowed him to live to see both Joseph and his grandchildren Gen 48:11.
God had responded positively to Jacob’s wholehearted commitment to God as expressed by his act of worship, despite his ongoing struggles in relation to his family.