READ TODAY’S EXTENDED TEXT: Genesis 33:1-17
What Jacob expected to be a confrontation with Esau was instead a warm reunion. Peace between Jacob and Esau, however, required evidence of reconciliation:
Then Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company which I met?”
And he said, “These are to find favor in the sight of my lord.”
But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.”
And Jacob said, “No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me. Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” So he urged him, and he took it.
Before they met, Jacob sent a magnanimous livestock gift of 550 animals to his estranged twin. Although Jacob’s servants had undoubtedly explained the purpose of the Jacob’s generosity, Esau wanted to hear it firsthand. Listening to his younger twin’s gracious words, Esau’s actions matched his conciliatory demeanor.
Mideastern protocol may account for Esau’s public declaration, “I have enough,” and the fact that he did indeed accept the gifts of livestock at Jacob’s urging. Jacob equated seeing Esau with his late-night glimpse of the face of God and at the same time also acknowledged God’s intervention in changing his brother’s heart toward him.
When Esau agreed to keep the peace offering out of deference to his brother’s gesture, Jacob recognized the dramatic turn of events as a sign of God’s favor.
More importantly, however, Esau’s acceptance of Jacob’s gift publicly demonstrated that all conflict between them was over. Esau could have refused and prolonged the 20-year conflict, but chose to end it.
In the spirit of conciliation, Esau offered to either travel with Jacob or send a company of his servants to provide protection; Jacob politely refused. Based on God’s power to change Esau’s mind, Jacob now had complete assurance that God would protect wherever he traveled (Gen. 28:15).
At the close of the narrative, Esau turned south and returned to his home in Seir (Land of Edom); Jacob went the opposite direction. Moving north, Jacob re-crossed the Jabbok River where he rested before moving on to Shechem inside the borders of Canaan to the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (50:24).
Reconciliation between Jacob and Esau was affirmed at their unforeseen reunion. It’s a true-life story that ends well. The relationship between the twin brothers remained amicable during their lifetime although the text gives no evidence that Esau had any influence over Jacob as a result of their reconciliation.
For Believers living in the 21st century, there is an obvious principle that can be applied to our own circumstances.
In mending relationships, a conciliatory attitude is essential, but does not give offended parties license to manipulate our lives. Just as God gave Jacob wisdom in his response to Esau’s offers for assistance, we can be assured that He will also effectively keep us in the center of His will when we seek His guidance and allow Him to work behind the scenes on our behalf.
1) Bible opened to Isaiah. By Ken Horn, [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) The Meeting of Esau and Jacob, (c. 1896-1902). By James Jacques Joseph Tissot, French, 1836-1902, [PD-US, PD-Art], via The Jewish Museum, New York – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
3) Sinai Peninsula and Canaan. By James Hastings (1852-1922) and John Alexander Selbie (1856-1931), A Dictionary of the Bible; Dealing with Its Language, Literature, and Contents, Including the Biblical Theology, (c. 1898). [PD-US, No restrictions], 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.