Day 23

Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau

from the Genesis reading plan

Genesis 31:1-55, Genesis 32:1-32, Genesis 33:1-20, Hosea 12:3-4

BY Melanie Rainer

I love this story. I think it’s because somehow I missed it growing up, and when I read it as an adult, it moved me to tears. I remember hearing the part of Jacob’s story from the end of Genesis 32, where he wrestles with God, but I’d never really heard his story from chapter 33—and this story has a happy ending.

We don’t actually get to say that very often about many stories in the Bible, and certainly not the stories in found in Genesis. In fact, every story about Jacob leading up to this one hasn’t necessarily been fun to read. Following Jacob’s narrative, we see that he chooses to collude with his mother in order to steal the birthright from his older brother Esau. He goes on to be deceived into marrying a woman he doesn’t love. And he is exploited by his father-in-law, Laban, forced into years of servitude.

In Genesis 31, Jacob begins to journey back to his home where he will meet his estranged brother, Esau. In stealing Esau’s birthright, Jacob wronged his brother terribly. And now, he brings his wives, children, and livestock on a journey to meet him again. He packs up a massive gift offering, trying to win Esau’s affections (or tolerance) with whatever he can give.

Here’s the stunningly beautiful, perfect portrait of God’s free grace to us: Esau runs to Jacob, embraces him, and says “I have enough, my brother… Keep what you need” (Genesis 33:19). Esau’s reaction moves me to tears and makes me want to shout out in celebration—all at the same time—because this story is a picture of what God offers me. Their reconciliation is just a foretaste of our own reconciliation with our God: a redeemed relationship that we cannot buy, we cannot earn, and we cannot lose. I have wronged God. Apart from Christ, I was estranged from Him. Everything that Jacob did to Esau, I have done ten times over to everyone I know.

I can imagine myself before Him. I’m trembling as I hold out my “good deeds” as an offering to Him, a way to make our relationship right, and He responds by telling me He not only has enough—He is enough.

God provided redemption through Jesus for His children, and His work on the cross is enough to cover every sin. Jesus secured the redemption of those who believe in Him. And the Holy Spirit seals us for the day of redemption, when we will live with God forever. Thanks be to God!

Post Comments (30)

30 thoughts on "Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau"

  1. Camille English Davis says:

    Grateful today for this story that reminds me of God’s love and forgiveness. Almost 20 years ago, I went through a painful divorce and hated the mere thought of my ex. Today we are friends and treat each other with the utmost respect. God is good…

  2. Jackie Mars says:

    Nancy I love that! I never really thought of daughter as a name change but it truly is!

  3. Jennifer Anapol says:

    We are called to bring to reconciliation between God and people.

  4. Mari V says:

    I once looked up the meaning of reconciliation. Without getting into too much detail why I had to do it, I found this, “the act of being friendly again“. And that’s what I found in today’s reading “the act of being friendly again” between Jacob and Esau. I know that someday “the act of being friendly again“ will take place between my kids dad and I and then again maybe not. I don’t foresee us ever living in the same household ever again. And I am totally OK with that. I finally feel free! I’m healing! I can breathe! In the meantime I will continue to work on Myself, my recovery, my walk with Jesus and raising my 14-year-old daughter and being there for my now college-aged son.

    1. Chris Swan says:

      I love this definition. The act of being friendly again. Thank you.

  5. Allison Sherwood says:

    Jacob is so thoughtful and methodical, and I don’t think I have related to him as much as through this story. I, like Jacob, am constantly trying to earn the love and respect of those around me, preparing gifts and offerings for others to show my respect and honor – but there is this undertone of fear that I see in Jacob. Fear that, if he doesn’t make these preparations or split his camp, he may not be good enough. Which is also why I love how this ends – with God telling Jacob that he doesn’t have to give anything, simply he himself.

  6. Nadine Hall says:

    This is one of my favorite stories. I missed this part of the Jacob-Esau story growing up, and has meant so much to me as an adult. The reconciliation is almost unfathomable, and yet entirely heart-warming. Esau went from wanting to murder his brother to embracing him in love and forgiveness. I love the parallel of the wrestling with God and the embrace of Esau. After Jacob wrestles with God, he names the place “Peniel” because he saw God face-to-face. Then, when he sees Esau the next day, he tells him, “seeing your face is like seeing the face of God.” How amazing is that?! God had changed Esau’s heart to the point that God showed through. And in Christ, we have that same power—to reflect the face of God (his love, grace, and mercy) to all around us. I just love that so much.

    1. Ashley P. says:

      What a beautiful truth, that we can show others the face of God like Esau did to Jacob!

  7. tanya b says:

    As I’m reading this account I wonder if Jacob’s considered reconciliation with Esau because once he had been done wrong by his uncle he was able to identify and become empathetic with what he had done to his brother and once he and his uncle/father-in-law made a covenant he thought how could he not make up with his brother. The law of reaping and sowing showed up in Jacob’s life but the favor of God even in our mistakes shows up again and again thank you Lord for reconciliation!!

  8. susan says:

    Thank you, Melanie. Thank you, Angie.
    Your words are very encouraging when I need them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *