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Genesis 32:1–33:20 (LEB)

Jacob Fears Esau

32 And Jacob went on his way, and angels of God met him. And when he saw them, Jacob said, “This is the camp of God!” And he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

Then Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother, to the land of Seir, the territory of Edom. And he instructed them, saying, “Thus you must say to my lord, to Esau, ‘Thus says your servant Jacob, I have dwelled as an alien with Laban, and I have remained there until now. And I have acquired cattle, male donkeys, flocks, and male and female slaves, and I have sent to tell my lord, to find favor in your eyes.’ ” And the messengers returned to Jacob and said, “We came to your brother, to Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” Then Jacob was very frightened and distressed. So he divided the people, flocks, cattle, and camels that were with him into two companies. And he thought, “If Esau comes to one company and destroys it, the remaining company will be able to escape.” Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, O Yahweh, who said to me, ‘Return to your land and to your family, and I will deal well with you.’ 10 I am not worthy of all the loyal love and all the faithfulness that you have shown your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please rescue me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, lest he come and attack me, mother and children alike. 12 Now you yourself said, ‘I will surely deal well with you and make your offspring as the sand of the sea that cannot be counted for abundance.’ ”

13 And he lodged there that night. Then he took from what he had with him a gift for Esau his brother: 14 two hundred female goats, twenty male goats, two hundred ewes, twenty rams, 15 thirty milk camels with their young, forty cows, ten bulls, twenty female donkeys, and ten male donkeys. 16 And he put them under the hand of his servants, herd by herd, and said to his servants, “Cross on ahead before me, and put some distance between herds. 17 And he instructed the foremost, saying, “When Esau my brother comes upon you and asks you, saying, ‘Whose are you and where are you going? To whom do these animals belong ahead of you?’ 18 Then you must say, ‘To your servant, to Jacob. It is a gift sent to my lord, to Esau. Now behold, he is also coming after us.’ ” 19 And he also instructed the second servant and the third, and everyone else who was behind the herds, saying, “You must speak to Esau according to this word when you find him. 20 And moreover, you shall say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is behind us.’ ” For he thought, “Let me appease him with the gift going before me, and afterward I will see his face. Perhaps he will show me favor.” 21 So the gift passed on before him, but he himself spent that night in the camp.

Jacob Wrestles with God

22 That night he arose and took his two wives, his two female slaves, and his eleven children and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 And he took them and sent them across the stream. Then he sent across all his possessions. 24 And Jacob remained alone, and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the dawn. 25 And when he saw that he could not prevail against him, he struck his hip socket, so that Jacob’s hip socket was sprained as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking.” But he answered, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 Then he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 And he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked and said, “Please tell me your name.” And he said, “Why do you ask this—for my name?” And he blessed him there. 30 Then Jacob called the name of the place Peniel which means “I have seen God face to face and my life was spared.” 31 Then the sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore the Israelites do not eat the sinew of the sciatic nerve that is upon the socket of the hip unto this day, because he struck the socket of the thigh of Jacob at the sinew of the sciatic nerve.

Jacob Meets Esau and Settles at Shechem

33 And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked. And behold, Esau was coming and four hundred men were with him. And he divided the children among Leah and among Rachel, and among the two of his female slaves. And he put the female slaves and their children first, then Leah and her children next, then Rachel with Joseph last. And he himself passed on before them and bowed down to the ground seven times until he came to his brother. But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell upon his neck and kissed him, and they wept. Then Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and the children and said, “Who are these with you?” And he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the female slaves drew near, they and their children, and they bowed down. Then Leah and her children drew near and bowed down, and afterward Joseph and Rachel drew near and they bowed down. And he said, “What do you mean by all this company that I have met?” Then he said, “To find favor in the eyes of my lord.” Then Esau said, “I have enough my brother; keep what you have.” 10 And Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your eyes, you must take my gift from my hand, for then I have seen your face which is like seeing the face of God, and you have received me. 11 Please take my gift which has been brought to you, for God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” And he urged him, so he took it. 12 Then he said, “Let us journey and go on, and I will go ahead of you.” 13 But he said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail, and the flocks and the cattle which are nursing are a concern to me. Now if they drove them hard for a day all the flocks would die. 14 Let my lord pass on before his servant and I will move along slowly at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me, and at the pace of the children until I come to my lord in Seir.” 15 And Esau said, “Let me leave some of my people with you.” But he said, “What need is there? Let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.” 16 So Esau turned that day on his way to Seir. 17 But Jacob traveled on to Succoth, and he built for himself a house, and he made shelters for his livestock. Therefore he called the name of the place Succoth. 18 And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-Aram. And he camped before the city. 19 And he bought a piece of land where he pitched his tent for one hundred pieces of money from the hand of the sons of Hamor, father of Shechem. 20 And there he erected an altar and called it “El Elohe Israel.”

Matthew 24:29–25:13 (LEB)

The Arrival of the Son of Man

29 “And immediately after the tribulation of those days,

‘the sun will be darkened

and the moon will not give its light,

and the stars will fall from heaven,

and the powers of heaven will be shaken.’

30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect together from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other end of it.

The Parable of the Fig Tree

32 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch has already become tender and puts forth its​ leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near, at the door. 34 Truly I say to you that this generation will never pass away until all these things take place! 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

The Unknown Day and Hour

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows—not even the angels of heaven nor the Son—except the Father alone. 37 For just as the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 38 For as in the days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered into the ark. 39 And they did not know anything​ until the deluge came and swept them​ all away. So also the coming of the Son of Man will be. 40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore be on the alert, because you do not know what day your Lord is coming! 43 But understand this: that if the master of the house had known what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 For this reason you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not think he will come.​

A Faithful Slave and an Unfaithful Slave

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise slave whom the master has put in charge of his household slaves to give them their​ food at the right time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom his master will find so doing when he​ comes back. 47 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that evil slave should say to himself, ‘My master is staying away for a long time,’ 49 and he begins to beat his fellow slaves and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect and at an hour that he does not know, 51 and will cut him in two and assign his place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

25 “Then the kingdom of heaven may be compared to ten virgins who took their lamps and​ went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were foolish and five were wise. For when​ the foolish ones took their lamps, they did not take olive oil with them. But the wise ones took olive oil in flasks with their lamps. And when​ the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. But in the middle of the night there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your olive oil, because our lamps are going out!’ But the wise ones answered saying, “Certainly there will never be enough for us and for you! Go instead to those who sell olive oil​ and buy some​ for yourselves.’ 10 But while​ they had gone away to buy it​ the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went inside with him to the wedding celebration, and the door was shut. 11 And later the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open the door​ for us!’ 12 But he answered and​ said, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you!’ 13 Therefore be on the alert, because you do not know the day or the hour!

Ecclesiastes 7:22–29 (LEB)

22 For your heart knows

that you also have cursed others many times.

Absolute Wisdom is Unattainable

23 All this I have tested with wisdom. I said, “I will be wise!” but it was beyond my grasp. 24 Whatever is—it is far beyond comprehension. Who can discover it?

25 I set my mind to try to seek wisdom and the plan, and to know that wickedness is foolishness and that folly is delusion. 26 I myself found that more bitter than death is the woman who is a trap, whose heart is a snare, and whose hands are bonds. The one who pleases God escapes from her, but the sinner is caught by her. 27 “Look! I found this,” said the Teacher, “while trying to find how the plan fits together. 28 What my heart sought, I did not find. Although I found one righteous man among one thousand, I did not find one upright woman among all these. 29 Look! This alone I found: God made mankind upright, but they have devised many schemes.”

January 20

Jesus’ instructions to His disciples about His return have inspired many to incorrectly predict His second coming. But if we read His parables, we find that they’re not so focused on the future. Jesus prepares His disciples for His absence, and for the end times, because He wants them to be hopeful, expecting His return. He wants them to be ready and watchful. But He wants them to do all of these things by being fully engaged in the present, readying His kingdom.

Jesus’ parable of the Wise and Wicked Servants demonstrates this attitude. While the faithful and wise servant provides for the master’s household during his absence, the wicked servant uses the time flippantly: carousing and beating his fellow servants. When the master returns, the faithful servant is promoted for his service, and the wicked servant is punished. The parable presses the disciples to use their time wisely during Jesus’ absence by doing the work they were called to do.

The same exhortation goes out to us. Will we act like lone Christians—content to live life disconnected from God’s kingdom? Instead, we should be filled with hope, expectation, and overflowing with the good news. We should be willing to build up those around us, and attract those who have no hope.

As easy as it is to forget the eternal in our everyday lives, we can just as easily forget what God’s work right now means for eternity. Being actively engaged in the present means spreading the good news, and being involved in His work—using our gifts to nurture His coming kingdom.

Are you busy and active in God’s kingdom now? If not, what is keeping you from becoming so?

Rebecca Van Noord is editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. She has developed content for several Bible reference products, including Lexham Bible Dictionary and Faithlife Study Bible.

Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional

Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord

Publisher: Lexham Press

Publication Date: 2012

This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.