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  The Great Bible Story #22
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Encounter with God

Jacob Ninan
When Jacob began to prosper, Laban's sons felt that he was taking away their father's wealth. Jacob thought it would be difficult to stay there any more, and decided to take his family and return home. He called Leah and Rachel and told them how their father had tried to cheat him several times and how God had helped him to get all his wealth. His wives were with him on this, and they were quite happy to leave.

Jacob left Laban secretly, put his wives on camels and drove away with all his cattle. It was three days before Laban came to know what Jacob had done, and he rushed after him. But God spoke to Laban on the way and warned him not to do any harm to Jacob. When Laban caught up with Jacob he scolded him for running away without telling him and taking away his daughters. Jacob's reply was that he was afraid Laban would not let go of his daughters. Finally Laban and he agreed to part peacefully.

Jacob then sent some messengers to Esau to say that he was returning from Laban and how God had blessed him with much. His messengers returned to him saying Esau was coming to meet him along with four hundred men! This drove Jacob into a panic, and he immediately prayed to God to deliver him. He also began to make a plan to defend himself and his family from Esau. He decided to send a huge gift of animals for Esau to go in front of them, followed by Leah and her children and then Rachel and her son.

In the night when Jacob was alone, a man came and wrestled with him. Though it went on the whole night, Jacob would not yield. Then the man touched Jacob's thigh and dislocated it. Jacob realised this was God Himself and said he wouldn't let go unless He blessed him. There God blessed him and changed Jacob's name to Israel meaning a prince with God. This scheming man had finally found his blessing in his weakness.

The next day Jacob saw Esau coming. But when he came, he embraced and kissed Jacob, and they both wept. Esau was not keen to take all the gifts from Jacob because he too had plenty, but Jacob was still scared in his heart about Esau and insisted that he should take them. Jacob tried to flatter Esau by saying that seeing him was like seeing the face of God! When Esau suggested that they could both travel together and get back home, Jacob excused himself saying he would follow slowly because of the children. But after Esau had left, Jacob went off in another direction! He settled down in Shechem and built an altar for God.


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