No doubt exhausted by his all-night wrestling match with the Lord, Jacob faced the dreaded reunion he had feared for 20 years. As Esau advanced with 400 servants, Jacob prepared for a worst-case scenario:
Genesis 33:1-7 (emphasis added)
“Now Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and there, Esau was coming, and with him were four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maidservants. And he put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last. Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, “Who are these with you?”
So he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the maidservants came near, they and their children, and bowed down. And Leah also came near with her children, and they bowed down. Afterward Joseph and Rachel came near, and they bowed down.”
Jacob bowed seven times in typical Mideastern decorum as he walked toward his older twin brother. Esau’s response was unexpected and not as formal. As he and his entourage arrived, Esau could not restrain himself. He ran to Jacob, threw his arms around him in a warm embrace and wept. Rather than the mortal conflict Jacob anticipated, the event turned out to be a wonderful reconciliation.
Before this momentous occasion, Jacob had prayed, “Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him” (32:11). We are not told what specific outcome Jacob expected. None-the-less, God answered his prayer by changing Esau’s mind—by replacing his vengeful attitude with one of conciliation. What Jacob had dreaded for two decades never materialized!
Jacob learned two lessons that have a beneficial application for us.
First, agonizing over his meeting with Esau was counterproductive. Worrying did nothing; only God could change Esau’s opinion of Jacob.
Second, Jacob learned that he could trust God in challenging situations. After Jacob had done all in his power to avert a perceived impending crisis, God intervened by not only protecting him, but by removing the threat completely!
Whatever looms large in your daily reality, the first step is to bring your anxiety to God—ask God for help. The second step is to trust God to work on your behalf. He alone has the power to bring good out of the difficult or negative circumstances in your life!
1) Bible opened to Isaiah. By Ken Horn, [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) The Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau, as in Genesis 33, (c. 1624). By Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), [PD-US, PD-Art], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.