Wow, can Jacob never get a rest? He is chased down by Laban and has to contend with him. He overcomes Laban, continues travelling home, and after sending his servant ahead of him to let his brother know that he is coming and to scout out the situation; he finds out that his brother is coming to meet him with a mob of 400 men!
So Jacob wisely does some damage control. He knows that Esau’s contention is with him, so he places some distance between himself and the majority of his belongings and family. I have always seen this as a buffer of protection for Jacob. Esau has to go through all of these things in order to get to Jacob. Even if Esau destroys all of this other stuff, it gives Jacob a chance to run away, or for Esau’s anger to abate before he reaches Jacob.
However, this buffer is also for the protection of his family and property. By separating the people and things from the source of the anger, the desire for vengeance is less likely to become focused on the things and family. Also, the realization that Jacob has been so blessed by God that it becomes obvious that it is not in the best interest to attack what God is blessing.
The gift of goats, sheep, milking camels, cows, and donkeys doesn’t hurt the anger appeasement situation either.
However, the wrestling is far from over. Jacob has one more wrestling match to go through before he faces off with his future and destiny. Jacob has to wrestle with God! I love this passage! I don’t necessarily understand it, but i love it! First off; how does a man wrestle with God? How is that even possible? Jacob can’t be stronger than God any more than we could pick up and carry a mountain. Yet there it is. He wrestled with God throughout the night. He doesn’t beat God, but he succeeds in wrestling until morning? Then he asks for a blessing on top of that! I don’t understand how any of that works or is possible, but i also know that the Word is inerrant, so it must work somehow. So what does Jacob get? He gets a new name. Jacob is now Israel.
What about you and i? Do we wrestle with God? Do we come face to face with God and wrestle with Him then ask Him for a blessing? Do we even seek Him out? When we do wrestle with Him, do we find that our reward is what we expect? Or are we under estimating the power of words: the power of a name?