Isaac was still alive when Jacob returns to the land. Remember: Jacob had obtained the birthright, but had not taken possession of any of his father’s possessions. The last thing Jacob knew about Esau was that his mother said Esau was planning to kill him. So, Jacob sends messengers ahead of his arrival to inform Esau that he was already very wealthy and was not coming to take possession of anything. He only wants Esau to not take revenge on him.
The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to thy brother Esau, and he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.” Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. Jacob prays and reminds YeHoVaH of His words and promise of protection.