But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. (Genesis 33:4)
Jacob was a swindler to his brother Esau. He snatched Esau’s birthright over a bowl of stew. He simply waited for Esau to come in from hunting all famished and too hungry to make wise decisions. Then he took advantage of the situation. Here is the exchange between the brothers,
Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, ‘Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished…!’ Jacob replied, ‘First sell me your birthright.’
‘Look, I am about to die,’ Esau said. ‘What good is the birthright to me?’ (Genesis 25:29-32)
This was not the only time that Jacob took advantage of his brother. Jacob also stole the blessing from his father Isaac. The blessing was meant for Esau. Isaac had called Esau to his side and asked him to go hunt some wild game. Then he asked him to prepare a tasty food and bring it back to eat, so that Isaac could give him his blessing. Now, at this time Isaac’s sight had become weak. He had felt that his time on the earth was limited and it was time to bless his sons.
Little did he know that his wife Rebekah was overhearing the whole conversation. Rebekah went to Jacob and let him know the plan. She asked Jacob to dress up as Esau and bring in the food she would prepare. At first, Jacob was not thrilled about the idea because he knew the consequences. He knew if he got caught, there would be a curse on his life. But his mother said, “Let the curse fall on me (Genesis 27:13).” This was enough convincing for Jacob, so he went ahead with the plan. By the time Esau came back the blessing had gone to Jacob. You may be asking yourself, “What’s the big deal?”
Well, there was a big difference between a blessing and the blessing, in ancient times. During, the giving of the blessing an ordaining of an individual takes place to the royal and priestly office of the family. There is only room for one high priest or patriarch in the family. This position could not be taken back. It was given once, to one family member and it was the highest valued position. By the time Esau came back, he basically got the leftovers.
So now that I have caught you up to speed. Let’s get back to the reunion of the brothers! Jacob was very fearful about this reunion. He sent gift after gift ahead of himself to appease his brother, in hopes that by the time he got there things would be okay.
“I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” (Genesis 32:20)
Have you ever tried to buy forgiveness with gifts? How did that work out for you? It doesn’t normally turn out to well. Most people don’t want gifts when they have been wronged. In fact, I think about what would have happened if God simply sent His Son to pacify the sins in our lives. What if Jesus didn’t die for our sins? What if He only spent a few moments on this earth to pacify God’s judgment?
Wow, I’m sure glad that’s not the case because I don’t want forgiveness for a moment. I want forgiveness for a lifetime. I’m so thankful that God didn’t try to just pacify His judgment for a moment. He sent His Son as a one time sacrifice! The debt has been paid and it never has to be paid again. My sins are forgiven and so are yours. Now it’s a simple act of bringing them to the cross! Will you? Will you forgive others, as Christ has forgiven you?
In the very next scene, we see that Jacob wrestles with God. He had tried to fight his battles on his own, just like we do. Then God stepped in. Sometimes enough is enough! God never intended for us to handle our battles on our own.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:28)
Jacob had overcome every obstacle. During that moment, something changed in his heart. The fear that gripped him when meeting his brother and the need to pacify him with gifts slipped away. He now saw that God was in control. God was going before Him and God would continue to guide Him. He no longer hid behind his gifts, servants, wives, and children. He went on ahead this time.
“He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.” (Genesis 33:3)
Something beautiful happens when we surrender ourselves to the work of God. It is God who goes before us, it is God who will leads us, and it is God who will win the battles before us. It is God who knows the outcome of our lives. We simply need to surrender our lives to the great design of our Creator! In Jacob’s great surrender and humble attitude, something wonderful happened…
“But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.” (Genesis 33:4)
The years of pain, the moments of turmoil, the anger, the bitterness, the lost moments, the frustration, the aggravation, the guilt, the deception, the lies, and so much more all melted away in that sweet embrace. Esau didn’t stop to ask his brother why he deceived him, stole his birthright, and his blessing. He even at one point comments on the wealth that God has given him. Esau never begrudges him for anything! This is one of the most beautiful acts of forgiveness, as Esau demonstrats the heart of God in a moment! Will you be an Esau in someone’s life today? Will you demonstrate forgiveness? Will you respond to the work of the cross in your life?
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14)
Dear Father God,
Please help me to forgive quickly, to love more completely, and to judge less frequently. Lord, I pray that I will surrender myself to the work of Your hands. May I follow Your lead and not wrestle with You on Your desires for my life! Lord, more than anything please help me identify the times when I am not loving, kind or sensitive to those around me. And help me to be more like the One You sent to save me!
Help me Forgive like Esau,