Today we are going to look at what happened when Jacob and Esau finally meet again. If you remember the last time the two brothers were together was back in Genesis 27. Whatever city they were in it definitely wasn’t Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. Jacob’s mother actually has to tell Jacob to run away to another land because Esau, his brother, is trying to kill him. Probably Esau rightfully felt these things because Jacob stole his father’s blessing from him and also extorted his birthright. I could imagine having a little bit of hostility towards a brother who did these things to me as well. Luckily, Jacob’s mama gets involved and sends him away to her brother where he was able to get married and prosper.
I can’t imagine the hostility that lay between these two brothers. Some of us are slightly more dramatically than others of us but we have heard people use phrases like, “They ruined my life”. Now I’m not saying that they didn’t but they probably didn’t do it like Jacob did to Esau. Jacob literally took away Esau’s inheritance from him for a bowl of soup. That better have been like some lobster bisque. On top of that while Esau was out hunting for an animal to make his father a nice stew Jacob and his mother went the easy route and took one of the animals from the flock and made their father a stew and stole Esau’s birthright. I couldn’t imagine doing all the work of hunting an animal just to see that your brother took one from the herd and used it to steal your birthright. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Imagine having all that happen and how you would feel if you ever saw your brother again. I am not sure about you but I would be expecting the best apology in the world. I’m not really sure what all would be included in that apology but at the very least I’m thinking something like a sky writing plane writing, “I’m sorry. You are awesome.” Maybe then I could possibly forgive them if they included like season passes to my favorite ski mountain. Let’s take a look at how the incident actually plays out in the Bible. You should go read the entire chapter of Genesis 33 but since I cannot put the entire chapter in this devotion. I will settle for one verse.
Genesis 33.4 “But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”
Esau had twenty years to stew over how wrong Jacob had done him but instead of holding in all that hostility, anger and rage he chose to do something absolutely crazy. HE FORGAVE HIM. His reaction to seeing his brother is profound. He didn’t even just walk up and shake his hand. It says he ran to him, like children would when they see their father coming home from work. He embraced him, fell on him and kissed him. That’s love and forgiveness and all the stuff I want in my life.
I have things in my life that are as small as people have told lies about me and have said negative things about my character that I have a hard time letting go of and forgiving them for. But Esau, literally the leader of a non-Israelite nation, had way more forgiveness than I do.
Colossians 3.13 says, “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” This verse can seem kind of abstract and not practical. For me personally, when I see an example of how this is played out in real life like what happened with Jacob and Esau it raises the bar. It shows me my failure to fully attain to the level of Christianity that I want to be at; which is to live like Christ.
So how do you forgive somebody after something like what happened to Esau. I don’t think it is in our nature to. I think we need to bring it to God. I know that there are things that I wasn’t ready to forgive people for, my heart isn’t ready for and it still clings to the hurt. I think the only way to handle those types of situations is to bring it to God in prayer and ask something like, “God, please help me forgive this person and love them despite what they did to me.” Sometimes we just need to release that charge against them in our minds and tell ourselves, “I am not going to hold that against them.”
I hope that this helps any of you that are struggling in this way. I hope that we can all release that resentment we have and forgive each other fully.
To read or listen to today’s Bible reading you can check out Bible Gateway at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+32-24&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Genesis 35-37 in our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan