Trouble in the Household-Part 3

Trouble In the Household 3

Gen. 32:24-32




1.  The account that we have just read is an enigma, hard to explain.

2.  Who is this person that Jacob is wrestling with?  Why does the wrestler touch Jacob’s hip?  What does any of this have to do with what is happening in the surrounding text?

3.  We are going to try to answer these questions, and others, as we continue our study about Jacob and the trouble in his household.  Our objective is to try to learn some of the things he did poorly so that we can avoid similar mistakes in our own households.  Surely, we do not want to be troubled by the problems he experienced.

4.  We will learn about how Jacob struggled with God and men.  We will see how Jacob’s sons dealt treacherously with a man named Shechem.  And we will hear how God reiterated His promises to Jacob of his becoming a company of nations and how they would receive the land that God had promised to Abraham and Isaac.




I.  What is the meaning of Jacob’s wrestling with God and men? (32:24-32).


    A.  While this passage may be difficult the key to its understanding in found in verse 

          28.  There is some sense in which Jacob’s wrestling involves his striving with 

          God and men.  How has he striven with God and men and prevailed?

    B.  The context suggests that Jacob has striven with men in a variety of ways.

          1.  He has striven with Esau, his brother.  He had negotiated for the birthright

               when Esau was hungry.  He had fled from Esau to Paddan-aram and there

               he had struggled with Laban.  He had worked 14 years for his two wives

               Leah and Rachael and Laban had changed his wages multiple times.

          2.  Now, God had sent Jacob away from Laban (31:13).  God had spoken to

               Laban to say nothing to Jacob (31:24).  There was a traumatic separation

               (31:43-45) and finally a covenant was reached, but it was a tense peace


           3.  Jacob had escaped from Laban blessed with family, flocks, and herds.  He 

                was a wealthy man. 

           4.  But now he was faced with returning and facing Esau.  Esau was coming to

                meet him with 400 men.  “Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he 

                divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the 

                  camels, into two companies; for he said, ‘If Esau comes to the one

                  company and attacks it, then the company which is left will escape’” (32:7-


            5.  Jacob prayed (Read 32:9-12).  He sent gifts ahead.  200 female goats and 

                 20 male goats; 200 ewes and 20 rams; 30 milk camels and their colts; 40 

                 cows and 10 bulls; 20 female donkeys and ten male donkeys.

            6.  Having sent all this, and his family across the Jabbok River he stayed 

                 behind.  This is where the wrestling match occurred.

            7.  You can see how he has wrestled with men.  Will everything be lost when

                 he meets Esau?

       C.  How has he struggled with God?

             1.  God has promised him descendants, land, and to be a blessing to all 

                  nations at Bethel (28:3-4, 13-15; cf. 27:28-29).

             2.  Now that he has returned will he be destroyed by Esau or will God take 

                  care of him? (32:9-12).

        D.  This is the context of Jacob’s wrestling.

              1.  He desires God’s blessing.  He is clinging to the promises God has made.  

                   But all the promises are at risk if Esau destroys him.  Jacob clings to God

                   and His promises.  He demands that God do the good to him that He has


              2.  Jacob seems to be saying, “Although I am struggling with God I will hold 

                   on to His promises in faith even if it kills me!”  This is what Jesus did in the 

                   Garden of Gethsemane.  This is what we are called on to do (Heb. 12:3-6;

                   Rev. 2:10).

              3.  The striking of Jacob’s hip reminds us that God is in control even though 

                   we may go limping, struggling, but trusting.  In reckless abandon and 

                   anxiety we cross the river to meet our Esau’s.

              4.  Jacob met Esau.  Esau ran to meet him, embraced him and kissed him

                   and wept.  


II.  Just as we think things are going well in Jacob’s household tragedy strikes.  Jacob’s sons deal treacherously with Shechem (34:1ff).


    A.  Jacob bought a piece of land from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father


    B.  Shechem, the prince of the land saw Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, “he took her

         and lay with her by force” (34:2).

         1.  “He was deeply attracted to Dinah.  He loved the girl and spoke tenderly to 

              her” (3).

        2.  He said to his father, “Get me this young girl for a wife.”

        3.  This probably was not a rape motivated by attempting to humiliate an enemy, 

             but it does reveal a worldly approach to power.  “He took her.”  “Get her for 

             me.”  It’s as if Shechem is the prince and he thinks he can have whatever he 

             wants.  This is an abuse of power!!!!

        4.  Rape is a serious offense!!  It is not just between two individuals.  Even in this 

             idolatrous society it was recognized as an aggressive violation of right


             a.  Hamor, Shechem’s father tried to speak to Jacob.

             b.  Dinah’s brothers are very angry and accuse Shechem of “having done a 

                  disgraceful thing in Israel, for such a thing ought not be done” (7).

    C.  Hamor acts as a mediator/broker to address the situation (8-12).

          1.  He acts in this capacity probably as the culture expected him to.

          2.  Note he sells his people and Jacob’s people on the financial advantages of 

               settling this situation peacefully (8ff).  Seeking financial advantages can blind

               you to risks.

          3.  Jacob’s sons agree but require circumcision of those who are going to be in 

               covenant relationship with them.

          4.  So an agreement is reached.  The people of Shechem will be circumcised.

          5.  Three days later when they are in pain, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers 

               attack. They killed Hamor and Shechem and every male.  They looted the 

               city.  They took their flocks and herds, their children and their wives, and all

               their wealth.

          6.  Jacob said, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious among 

               the inhabitants of the land . . . my men being few . . . they will attack me and I 

               will be destroyed” (30).  He still struggles with the possibility of being wiped



III.  God reiterated His promises to Jacob (35:1ff).


     A.  A cultural separation and reconnection with God was instituted at Bethel (1-7).

     B.  Jacob is renamed “Israel” and God promises a company of nations and the 

           land of Canaan to Israel (8-12).


IV.  What have we learned?


      A.  Jacob, like us struggles with the promises that God has made to us.  

           Sometimes we do not know how they will be fulfilled.  Sometimes there are

           sleepless nights of wrestling.  But even though I struggle with God I will hold on

           to His promises even if it kills me!

      B.  Families often deal with grave violations like rape, the selfish use of power, 

           anger, and severe injustice.

      C.  We are fearful and disturbed, but we can trust the promises of God.  We must 

            put away our foreign gods and trust in the Almighty!




1.  God is faithful even through all our doubts, hesitations, and anxieties.

2.  God is faithful even through our severe family troubles.

3.  He has prepared a way for us.  He has prepared a place for us.  We can find refuge in the place where God speaks to us (Bethel).

4.  Do you believe His promises?

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