Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming with his four hundred men.
He divided the children between Leah and Rachel and the two maidservants. He put the maidservants out in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. He led the way and, as he approached his brother, bowed seven times, honoring his brother.
But Esau ran up and embraced him, held him tight and kissed him.
And they both wept.
Genesis 33: 1-4 The Message
This text from Genesis shows us an unexpected and happy reunion between brothers, with both of them ending up in tears.
The wonderful nature of their coming together was most likely a huge surprise to Jacob. In the previous chapter, it was reported to him that his older brother Esau was approaching with 400 men. To Jacob, this sounded like a hostile army. Jacob was scared. To say that he and Esau had not gotten along would be an understatement. In fact, Jacob was so scared that he divided his camp into two groups, thinking that if Esau attacked the first group, the second would have time to get away. He also prayed that their meeting would go well...
Jacob and Esau had a fractious relationship from the start. Their turmoil began at birth as twins. The larger and hairier Esau being born first, with his young twin brother born grasping Esau’s heel! It seems as though Jacob was attempting to be the first born, which is a significant part of their story.
Fast forward a few years. Esau became a gifted hunter, while Jacob was better at preparing the food. Their differences were compounded when Jacob tricked his older brother into selling him his birthright for a bowl of porridge. In fact, one of the nicknames sometimes given to Jacob is “Jacob the trickster”. Although he was not an angel, Jacob was still a part of God’s plan.
What inspiration can we take from this story? Simply this. In a world where fractured and broken relationships occur far too often, this story gives us hope. In the intervening years before this meeting, Jacob and Esau had time away from each other. Perhaps they reflect more upon what they had in common, rather than their differences. With the passage of time, and our sincere prayers, there is hope for forgiveness, and reconciliation, even in the most troubled of relationships.
Lord of all,
I am not perfect, nor are all of my relationships perfect. Some are fractured, and even broken. Bring your healing, reconciling power to bear in every area of my life, including my relationships. May I honor others, including family members, as you give me grace to do so. I pray this prayer in the name of Your Son, and my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.