His face drained white when he heard the news. His brother was on his way with 400 men. It was time to arrange the camp and set up strategies to protect as many as possible. The camp was split into two. If one group was attacked the other might escape.
Provisions were made for the women and children and Jacob was feeling nervous. This was serious and he wasn’t sure how many, if any, would survive this onslaught. They were about to look death in the eye.
It had been years since he had seen his brother, and Esau had been intent on killing him for taking his birthright. Esau had been deceptively stripped of everything promised to him and wanted revenge.
Jacob fled to save his life and had since begun a new life in hiding, but now the past had caught up with him and Jacob was about to meet his adversary.
I can just imagine the dread Jacob was feeling. He knew he had done wrong. He knew he deserved what Esau had coming for him. By the time Jacob met his brother, he had sent many gifts ahead in the hope of pacifying him. He still expected strife but was taken by surprise by what came next.
With Jacob now in sight, Esau began running. Jacob was probably thinking, “Oh gosh, he’s really mad!”
Esau ran until he reached his little brother, then threw his arms around him and embraced him.
Disbelief and relief would have swept through Jacob’s body all at once. What? That’s not what he was expecting!
“…Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept”.
Genesis chapter 33, verse 4
One word: forgiveness
The bible is full of stories of forgiveness, the greatest being when God himself came to earth as man and died to redeem us from death—a gift available for anyone who asks.
I was touched by the last few moments in the lives of convicted drug smugglers, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. They had committed a crime and had been serving their sentence awaiting their execution.
From reading online posts and Facebook responses, many people still do not forgive them and likely never will, but as Chan and Sukumaran prepared to die, they forgave even their executors, and worshiped God, grateful for his mercy, forgiveness and his amazing grace.
They knew they deserved their time in jail but the prison bars could not keep God out. Within the walls of their prison cell they found Jesus and were redeemed in spite of their crime, their past and what their future held. They were able to forgive because they were forgiven so much. They died singing praises to God, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” They knew the peace forgiveness brings.
“She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal”.
Luke chapter 7, verse 47 (The Message)
God doesn’t hold grudges
It doesn’t matter what we’ve done or how bad we think we are. There is nothing we can give to God or send on ahead to make him think more kindly towards us; for the Creator became the creation, to die for the creation, because he loves his creation.
When we come to him, he is eager to embrace us and weep with joy at the reunion, just as Esau did when he was reunited with his brother. He had missed him and the past didn’t matter, it was the person who he was that he loved.
When we come to him, God doesn’t hold a grudge.
Psalm 103, verse 12 says:
“He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins”. (The Message)
You may not feel worthy, but when you reach out, he will reach in and boy, it will be a happy reunion!
(c) Rebecca Moore 2015
First published in Christian Today Australia 19th May 2015