BROTHERS IN ARMS
God of Grace and Glory, I praise You for the Holy Spirit, who enables me to live in confidence and joy.
Read GENESIS 33
Jacob Meets Esau
33 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. 2 He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. 3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. 5 Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked.
Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”
6 Then the female servants and their children approached and bowed down. 7 Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down.
8 Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?”
“To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said.
9 But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.”
10 “No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably. 11 Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.
12 Then Esau said, “Let us be on our way; I’ll accompany you.”
13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are tender and that I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die. 14 So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the flocks and herds before me and the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”
15 Esau said, “Then let me leave some of my men with you.”
“But why do that?” Jacob asked. “Just let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.”
16 So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir. 17 Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth.[a]
18 After Jacob came from Paddan Aram,[b] he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. 19 For a hundred pieces of silver,[c] he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. 20 There he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel.[d]
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in Your presence and please You more and more.’1 Let this express your desire to grow as a Christian.
Dramatic experiences don’t always immediately remedy our character defects. As someone once explained to me, often intense experiences clear the way for growth rather than being growth in themselves. That certainly rings true for Jacob. His remarkable confrontation at Peniel would change the course of his life, but the very next day his tendencies to fear and to deceive are still apparent. Change normally takes time, requiring the involved process of renewing our minds. Thinking rightly about God, others, and oneself is God’s intention for us.
Jacob would rather have avoided meeting Esau. But he looks up and there he is. Jacob musters the courage to go on ahead of his family to meet his estranged brother. However, the initiative then falls to Esau. He runs to meet Jacob and embraces him (an image akin to Luke 15 and the father’s welcome of his wayward son). To his great credit, Esau exhibits no hint of recrimination. Instead, he shows what appears like genuine concern for Jacob’s family’s safe passage. Jacob’s response, presumably motivated by fear or an inability to comprehend that his brother could truly forgive him, is to con Esau into thinking that he will follow him on to Seir when his intention is to go elsewhere. He has yet to learn to trust others and to accept their help. He still needs to understand that money can’t buy you love (8).2 There is work to be done, but the building blocks are present. Twice over, he pinpoints God’s grace as the source of all he has (5,11). Then his first act after pitching his tent is to acknowledge the mighty God of Israel in sacrifice (20). Despite the possibility we might be tempted to prefer Esau to Jacob, it is the latter who knows the Lord and worships Him.
The people of God are a work in progress. How do we best ensure that our minds are continually renewed? How do we know it is happening?
Gracious Father, my heart’s desire is to cooperate with You in Your will for my life. I long for spiritual growth, be it immediate or gradual.
1 From a daily prayer by John Stott, 1921–2011 2 See also Gen 32:20
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