In Genesis 31, after Jacob flees from his father-in-law’s control, Laban pursues him with the intent to do him harm because he has taken his daughters, grandchildren as well as his household idols. When he catches Jacob, in Genesis 31:29, he says, “It’s in my power to do you harm.” In this world, I’m sure you know people who have the power to do you harm. We all have them. But God, who is called in this chapter “The Fear of Isaac,” shows himself to Laban, speaks to him on behalf of Jacob, and warns him against any ill intent he might have. God makes it clear to Laban that He is the one who has the absolute power to harm. In this chapter, when Jacob confronts Laban about why he’s chasing him down with an army, Laban argues that Jacob stole his household idols. It’s interesting to notice that Laban is chasing after his stolen gods while the one true God is actively protecting those who worship Him.

Jacob fled from Laban in fear. But God interceded to protect him from harm. Jacob then continued on his journey to his homeland. Genesis chapter 32 begins with an interesting phrase. It says, “Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, ‘this is God’s camp.'” After the problem with Laban is resolved, Jacob sees God’s protective presence in the angels and rejoices. It’s always easy to see How God has delivered us through our problems when we look back. It’s going through them at the moment that’s the real challenge.

However, Jacob wasn’t through with being afraid of people who might do him harm like you and me. The very next thing is that Jacob gets word that his brother, Esau, whom he cheated out of his birthright, was coming with 400 soldiers. Genesis 32:7 says, “Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed.” My mother was right. “There is always something. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.” You get over one difficulty, and you face another one. You get through one fear, and there’s something else meeting you. There’s always something else to be afraid of. It’s harder to see God’s presence in the problems before us now than it is to see God’s presence in the problems behind us. This is how God teaches us to live by faith and not by sight. Romans 8:31 teaches us, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” No one’s ill will or intent to harm you or me, whether real or imagined, can reach us. Even though, as undeserving as Jacob was, and we often are, God is on our side!