Genesis 33.1-20

Title: To Nearly Obey is Not Enough

Text: Genesis 33.1-20

Introduction: Tell me about Jacob to this point. Chapter 32 seems to have been a life-changing experience.

1.     Jacob goes out to meet his brother, bowing himself to the ground (rd 1-3)

  1. 401 men! How many chairs in here?
  2. The one who stole the birthright declaring his brothers would bow down to him is now the one bowing.

2.     An emotional meeting as Jacob introduces his family (4-7); rd v 4;

  1. His brother’s response! Very emotional. When’s the last time you saw your siblings? June of ’76 for one of mine. Spring of ’80 for another; Talked to Fred tonight, it was three years ago
  2. Jacob explains his prosperity
    1. Starting with the lowest:
    2. Ending w/ Joseph & Rachel

3.     Jacob explains his gift to Esau and makes restitution (8-11) rd v8;

  1. I have enough – 9a
    1. Favor – 10a
      1. Accept my present – 10b
        1. Seen your face – 10c
        2. Seeing the face of God – 10d
      2. Accept my blessing – 11a
    2. Grace – 11b
  2. 11c – I have enough

4.     Esau desires to travel with Jacob, but Jacob makes a clean break from his brother; however, he isn’t quite honest about it all. (12-16)

  • Let us be on our way, I’ll go ahead of you; 12; Question: Jacob’s response? Totally honest?
  • Let me leave some of my people with yours; rd v 15; v 16

5.     Jacob journeys to Shechem (18-20)

    1. He lies to his brother about following
    2. He doesn’t go to Bethel, but rather to Shechem and buys land there.

Professor Ian Duguid via R. Kent Hughes: Why was that? What was Jacob doing settling down at Shechem and raising an altar when he should have been continuing on to Bethel to raise the altar there, where he had first had the dream? Did Jacob think that Shechem was a better site for trade and for his flocks? Perhaps he thought it didn’t matter. After all, Bethel was now a mere twenty miles or so away; he could go there whenever it suited him, once he got settled. Why be so precise in these things? Shechem or Bethel—it’s really all the same, isn’t it? Indeed, it is not. Whatever his motivation, Jacob’s compromise and his failure to follow through with complete obedience to what he had vowed would cost him and his family dearly, as we shall see in the following chapter. Almost obedience is never enough. Being in the right ballpark may be sufficient when watching a baseball game, but is not nearly enough when it comes to obeying God. Nothing short of full obedience is required.

Conclusion: New Testament Appropriation (NICOT) – John 4.5-12 tells of the woman at the well who asks if Jesus is greater than their ‘father’ Jacob. Indeed, our New Testament Appropriation would be that Jacob has supplanted Esau and Jesus has supplanted Jacob.


  1. God is working out his plan to his perfection.
  2. We think of this moment as so great, but really, there is a greater plan at work through the Messiah.
  3. It’s amazing to think of God’s work in Jacob’s life and the changed man we see.
  4. Almost obeying isn’t really enough.
  5. To obey is better than sacrifice – he erected an altar.

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Filed under Genesis, W.E.B.S.

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