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.
In this passage we see the story of the reconciliation of two brothers separated by greed and deception – Esau and Jacob.
From birth these twin brothers competed and never reconciled their differences. It’s a story of a broken family, with favouritism and envy, which leads to the destruction of their relationship for many years.
Esau’s lack of wisdom and living for today; along with Jacob’s deception and stealing of Esau’s legal birthright was a deep wound in their relationship. It was a huge step for both these brothers to seek out reconciliation.
In the previous chapter we see Jacob sending many gifts with his messengers to Esau to prepare for reconciliation. How these messengers get the story so wrong for Jacob. “Esau is coming to meet you with 400 men”.
That night in desperation – Jacob prays and cries out to the Lord. He has had an encounter with God, he wrestles with God and is renamed, Israel. He has a life changing God encounter and he is never the same.
The next day, we see Jacob prepares for the destruction of his family by separating them into two groups.
However, these 400 men were coming to assist in the final part of Jacob’s journey, not to bring destruction on his family.
Jacob goes out to meet Esau, and bows seven times before him. Jacob has understood humility. He comes in repentance to Esau and as an act of forgiveness bows in honour to his older brother.
We see Esau has understood forgiveness. Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.
They both wept and their relationship is healed.
To heal our broken relationships – repentance and forgiveness is necessary. This story encourages us to sort out our relationships with repentance and discover forgiveness and freedom as a result.
Lord show me where my relationships need your healing. Help me to be an agent of love and forgiveness. Show me where I need to repent and reconcile. Thank you Jesus that life with you is all about relationship. Help me to be more like you.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta