Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau
Open Your Bible
Genesis 31:1-55, Genesis 32:1-32, Genesis 33:1-20, Hosea 12:3-4
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!