The Articles of Ellen Gould Harmon White as printed in the Signs of the Times.
November 20, 1879 The Great Controversy Between Christ and His Angels and Satan and His Angels.
Filed under: EG White Articles

Chapter XIII.
and the .
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By Mrs. E. G. White.
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The course which Jacob had pursued in deceiving his father was ever before him. He knew that his long exile was the result of his own deviation from strict , the . He pondered over these things day and night, his him, and making his journey very sad. How he longed to again go over the ground where he had stumbled and brought the upon his . Before his he had a sense of which made him brave under difficulties, and cheerful amid trouble and gloom. To this deep, abiding , he had long been a stranger. Yet he remembered with the which had shown him, the of the shining ladder, and the promises of and . In solemn review of the mistakes and errors of his life, and the dealings of God with him, he humbly acknowledged his own , the great of , and the prosperity which had crowned his labors.

As the hills of his native land appeared before him in the distance, the heart of the patriarch was deeply stirred. He had proved his God, and found his promises unfailing; he believed that God would be with him; yet as he drew near to Edom he had many fears of Esau, who was now able to do his younger brother great injury if so disposed. Again the Lord encouraged the heart of his servant with a token of divine care and protection. Directly before him, as if leading the way, he beheld two armies of heavenly angels marching as a guide and guard; and when he saw them he broke forth in language of praise, and exclaimed, “This is God’s host.” And he called the name of the place Mahanaim, which signifies two hosts, or camps.

Although Jacob had so great evidence that God would protect him, he felt that he himself had something to do for his own safety. He therefore sent his servants with a conciliatory message to Esau, who dwelt at Mount Seir, in the country of Edom. He did not claim the precedence for himself, but courteously addressed his brother as a superior, hoping thus to appease the anger which his former course had excited. Esau was informed of his younger brother’s safe return with abundant possessions of cattle and servants, and that he would be most happy to meet him with fraternal feelings. The messengers returned to their master with the tidings that Esau was advancing to meet him attended by four hundred men; and no response was sent to the friendly message.

It appeared certain that Esau was coming in anger to seek revenge. A feeling of terror pervaded to entire camp. Jacob was in distress. He could not go back, and he feared to advance. His company was few in numbers, and wholly unprepared for an encounter. He accordingly divided them into two bands, that if one should be attacked, the other might have an opportunity to escape. He would not fail to do all in his power to preserve his own life and the life of those dependent upon him, and then he pleaded with God for his presence and protecting care. He did not rely upon his feelings, nor upon any goodness which he possessed, but on the sure promise of God: “Thou saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee. I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now am I become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.”

Jacob halted in his journey to mature plans for appeasing the wrath of his brother. He would not rush recklessly into danger, but sent large presents to Esau by the hands of his servants, with a message well calculated to make a favorable impression. He sent his wives and children, with all his substance forward on the journey, while he himself remained behind. He thought the sight of that helpless little company would touch the feelings of Esau, who, though bold and revengeful, was yet pitiful and tender toward the weak and unprotected. If his eye rested first upon Jacob, his rage might be excited, and they would all perish.

Jacob wished to be alone with his God. It was midnight. All that made life dear to him was at a distance, exposed to danger and death. The bitterest drop in his cup of anguish was the thought that his own sin had brought this great peril upon his wives and children, who were innocent of the sin of which he was guilty. He had decided to spend the night in humiliation and prayer. God could soften the heart of his brother. God was his only refuge and strength. In a desolate place, infested by robbers and murderers, he bowed in deep distress upon the earth; his soul was rent with anguish, and with earnest cries mingled with tears he made his prayer before God. Strong hands are suddenly laid upon his shoulders. He immediately grapples his assailant, for he feels that this attack is a design upon his life; that he is in the hands of a robber or murderer. The contest is severe; neither utters a word; but Jacob puts forth all his strength, and does not relax his efforts for a moment. Thus the struggle continued, until near the break of day, when the stranger placed his finger upon Jacob’s thigh, and he was crippled instantly. The patriarch now discerns the character of his antagonist. He knows that he has been in bodily conflict with a heavenly messenger, and this is why his almost superhuman efforts did not gain for him the victory. He is now disabled and suffering keenest pain, but he will not loosen his hold. He falls, a conquered foe, all penitent and broken, upon the neck of the angel.

In the inspired history of this event, the one who wrestled with Jacob is called a man; Hosea calls him the angel; while Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face.” He is also said to have had power with God. It was the Majesty of Heaven, the Angel of the covenant, that came, in the form and appearance of a man, to Jacob. The divine messenger uses some force to release himself from the grasp of Jacob; he pleads with him, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.” But Jacob had been pleading the promises of God; he had been trusting his pledged word, which is as sure and unfailing as his throne; and now, through humiliation, repentance, and self-surrender, this sinful, erring mortal, can make terms with Jesus Christ: “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” What boldness is here manifested! What lofty faith, what perseverance and holy trust! Was this presumption and undue familiarity on the part of Jacob? Had it been of this character he would not have lived through the scene. His was not a self-exalted, boastful, presumptuous claim, but the assurance of one who realizes his weakness and unworthiness and the ability of God to fulfill his promise. The mistake which had led to Jacob’s sin in obtaining the birthright by fraud was now opened before him. He had not trusted God and his promises as he should have done. He had sought by his own works and power to bring about that which God was abundantly able to perform in his own time and way.

“And when he saw that he prevailed not against him”–the Majesty of Heaven prevailed not against a man of dust, a sinful mortal! The reason is, that man has fastened the trembling hand of faith upon the promise of God, and the divine, messenger cannot leave him who is hanging repentant, weeping, helpless upon his neck. His great heart of love cannot turn away from the suppliant without granting his request. Christ did not wish to leave him unblest when his soul was shrouded with despair; for he is more willing to give good things to them that ask him than are parents to give to their children.

The angel inquired of Jacob, “What is thy name?” and on being informed he said, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, [the supplanter] but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” Jacob had received the blessing for which his soul had longed; his sin as a supplanter and deceiver was pardoned. The crisis in his life had passed. God shows, in his dealing with Jacob, that he will not sanction the least wrong in any of his children; neither will he cast off and leave to despair and destruction those who are deceived and tempted and betrayed into sin. Doubt, perplexity, and remorse had embittered Jacob’s life; but now all was changed, and how sweet was the rest and peace in God, in the assurance of his restored favor.

“Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed; he wept, and made supplication unto him; he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us, even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial.” What a morning of light and joy dawned upon Jacob. The dark, despairing shadows brooding over him the previous night had disappeared. The brightness of the sun, shining in its glory, fitly represented the heavenly light that filled his soul. He was crippled in body, but his spirit was strong in God. He bore some marks of the battle, but the victory was his.

In this instance we see of what value is man in the sight of the infinite God. When a teacher of men upon the earth, the One who appeared to Jacob said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings? and not one of them is forgotten before God. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” The promises of God are so sure to those who trust in him that he will suffer the heavens and the earth to pass away, rather than fail to fulfill the desire of them that fear him. The great lessons of peace, humility, and trust, are to be learned by all the followers of Christ.

While Jacob was wrestling with the angel on that eventful night, another angel, one of the host which the patriarch had seen guarding him in the way, was sent to move upon the heart of Esau in his sleeping hours. In his dream he saw his brother an exile from his father’s house for twenty years through fear of his anger; he witnessed his sorrow to find his mother dead; and he beheld him encompassed with the hosts of God. Esau related this dream to his four hundred armed men, and charged them not to injure Jacob, for the God of his father was with him.

The two companies at last approach each other; the sturdy chieftain with his soldiers on one side, and on the other, Jacob, pale from his recent conflict, and halting at every step, yet with a benignity and peaceful light reflected upon his countenance; in the rear an unarmed company of men, women, and children, followed by the flocks and herds. Supported by his staff the patriarch went forward to meet that band of warriors, bowing himself repeatedly to the ground as a token of respect, while his little retinue awaited the issue with the deepest anxiety. They saw the arms of Esau thrown about the neck of Jacob, pressing to his bosom him whom he had so long threatened with direst vengeance. Revenge is now changed to tender affection, and he who once thirsted for his brother’s blood shed tears of joy, his heart melted with the softest endearments of love and tenderness. The soldiers in Esau’s army saw the result of that night of weeping and of prayer; but they knew nothing of the conflict and the victory. They understood the feelings of the patriarch, the husband and father, for his family and his possessions; but they could not see the connection that he had with God, which had gained the heart of Esau from Him who has all hearts in his hand. Thus it has ever been with worldlings; the secret of the Christian’s strength is not discerned by them. His inner life they cannot understand.

Esau looked with pleasure upon his brother’s possessions. He acknowledged the presents tendered to him by Jacob, but declined to accept them, as he already possessed abundance. But Jacob urged the matter. He was a prince with God, yet as subdued and humble as a little child. “And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand; for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me. Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.”

Esau invited Jacob to his home in Seir, and offered to accompany him on the journey. But Jacob had no disposition to accept the offer. He knew that Esau was now under the direct influence of the Spirit of God; when another spirit should come upon him he might greatly change in feelings. Jacob did not refuse the offer, but presented the true condition of his party, his flocks and herds; that they could not travel with the expedition which would be agreeable to Esau and his band. He urged him to return to his own place, while the party would follow on slowly. Esau desired to leave with his brother soldiers to guard him and his company; but Jacob had evidence that they were guarded by a mighty host of heavenly angels, and he courteously declined the favor. The brothers parted with tender feelings.
                           (To be Continued.)

Jenny @ 6:30 pm

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