Genesis 32 introduces another theme that will walk with us through the rest of the Bible. Ok, so maybe this isn’t the very first time this theme appears, but it is the first time I am going to comment on it and draw it out a bit. In this section of Genesis, we see Jacob returning to his homeland after 20 years of servitude to Laban. Makes me kind of glad that I only had to buy a ring for Amanda when I wanted to marry her!
Going back to Canaan could not possibly have been an easy decision for Jacob. Remember when he left that place he was running away. Running away from an angry father whom he had deceived and running away from an angry brother whom he stole from. An angry brother that was an expert archer and hunter who was destined to live by the sword according to the words of Isaac…I’d run away too if I made him mad. Yet Genesis makes it clear that God had put the call on Jacob’s heart to return home, and the new, God-sensitive Jacob understood that he had to obey that call.
So home he goes, and what is the first think on his mind: appeasing his brother. Here’s what I find so amazing about this story: “But Esau ran to meet him, hugged him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. Then they wept.” (Genesis 33:4). Jacob expected everything but that response from Esau. Here Jacob comes prepared to bribe his brother into sparing his life, and Esau instead runs into his brothers arms and weeps for joy over his return. Somehow, over 20 years, Esau had found it in himself to forgive Jacob for the deception and the theft that Jacob perpetrated.
Now I haven’t forgotten the theme I mentioned earlier; it is reconciliation.
Here is what this account from Genesis teaches me about reconciliation: it requires a willingness on the part of both parties in order to work. Both parties have to recognize the wrong that was done, but then both parties have to work past the wrong, forgive one another, and carry on with the relationship without allowing that past event to colour the future.
You might be tempted to say: “Well of course Esau was happy to see his brother! It had been 20 years.” I find it very sad to say that I have personally known family feuds that have lasted much longer than 20 years. I have known family feuds that have walked the family members to the grave. I have known family feuds that have lasted not one, but two or three generations. I find it completely amazing that Esau was not only willing to forgive his brother, but to welcome him with open arms.
Oh that we would be that willing to forgive and be reconciled!
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?