Fearful Followers Reassured
Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps, thinking, “If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape.”
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
In both readings today, we meet people who are called by God to enter uncharted territory and are understandably fearful of what looms ahead.
Although Jacob has seen God grant him material success and a peaceful parting with Laban, he is more than a little anxious about meeting Esau after so many years. A man appears to Jacob at night and wrestles with him. We understand the mysterious, unnamed man to be the Angel of the Lord as clarified in Hosea 12:2-6.
God is gracious to Jacob to send His angel to bless him when he most needed reassurance.
Jesus also talks to His disciples about fear. He is sending them out as His messengers, into a hostile world. They will naturally tend to be fearful, but Whom should they fear? Not someone who can only kill their bodies and then have no further power. Not an Esau, who might be holding a grudge after 20 years. Jesus tells the twelve to fear God, the One who has power over our eternal destiny.
Jacob learns that God is with him as he goes back to his home land and his brother. The disciples learn that God will be with them and keep their souls even if their ministry arouses rejection and death.
Think about it
In a sense, every new day presents uncharted territory for us even when life seems predictable and routine. How confident are you of God’s power to keep you wherever He sends you and in whatever He calls you to do? Do not fear Man, not if by faith in Christ you have eternal life and you are ready to die. Don’t deny real danger but replace the fear of Man with the fear of God. He will be with His own to the end.