A few days ago, as I read about how Jacob had sent his wives and children and all he had across the Jabbok to meet Esau, I had a lingering question in my mind. I knew that Jacob was being “left alone” with God to wrestle with Him that night – but I also wondered about the propriety of sending his family ahead of him into possible danger, with Esau and several hundred armed men coming towards them. Is that what a man should do? But my Bible reading this morning cleared that question up.
Verse 3 of Genesis 33 says that after dividing his wives and children up into different groups to meet Esau, “He himself passed on ahead of them.” Ok, this is what I was looking for. This is what a man should do: he should LEAD his family. Jacob went ahead, in what was a potentially dangerous situation, and he put HIMSELF between his family and danger.
This is a good example of what fathers and husbands should do for their family. There are many ways to put this principle into practice:
— First of all, you can take this literally, and physically put yourself between your wife and kids and potential danger. I know that whenever I walk with my wife in our neighborhood, and a car approaches, I make a purposeful point to put myself between her and the vehicle. There are numerous occasions when we can literally do what Jacob did, and physically put ourselves between our family and danger.
— But there are other ways to apply this principle as well. You can spiritually put yourself “in the gap” between your family and harm by interceding for them. In John 17, Jesus said He “kept” the disciples that His father had entrusted to Him, by His intercession. Men should be committed to pray for their family in this same way.
— You can also put yourself between your family and spiritual danger in any number of practical ways: by keeping them from false teachers, and leading them to participate in a church that teaches God’s word; by keeping deceptive teaching and influence out of your home in every form and fashion; by screening your family from pornography and ungodly television shows and movies; by guarding them from the wrong kind of friends who will influence them badly.
— Most importantly, the father can “pass on ahead” of his family by being the spiritual leader of his home, so that his wife and children will look up to him and imitate his walk with God. Unfortunately, too many men lag behind their wives and children, instead of leading them spiritually, the way God intended.
If you are a husband and/or father, you should ask yourself: “Am I ‘passing on ahead’ of my family, to lead and protect and keep them, the way that Jacob did?” It is the duty of a man.