- Explore the Bible lesson for Jan. 13 focuses on Genesis 33:1-15.
Most of us love stories with happy endings. The book of Ruth tells the story of Elimelech, Naomi, and their two sons who left Bethlehem because of a famine and eventually arrived in Moab. Over a period of time, Elimelech died, and the sons married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Unfortunately, both sons died, and Naomi was left in the foreign land without a husband or sons. Upon hearing that the famine ended, Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem without Orpah and Ruth. One of them, Ruth, vowed to remain with Naomi; Orpah decided to remain in Moab. Naomi was extremely bitter and full of shame because she had to return to Bethlehem without a husband or sons. In God’s mercy and grace, he set in motion a kinsman redeemer, Boaz, who would marry Ruth and cause Naomi to become happy, no longer bitter. At the end of the story, a son was born to Ruth, Obed, who is the father of Jesse, who is the father of David. In light of the story, our Savior Jesus, was born through this lineage (Ruth 1-4).
Put Aside Your Pride (Genesis 33:1-4)
After 20 years of separation, the time has come for the brothers to encounter one another. What would happen if Esau’s anger against his brother remained or has become more intense? Jacob is now a changed man, but there is no indication Esau has changed because of Jacob’s encounter with God at Peniel. Regardless of the previous circumstances, God prepared the way for Jacob to reconcile with Esau.
Humbly, Jacob came face-to-face with Esau. Being humble means to have or show a low estimate of one’s importance. Jacob’s experience with Laban caused him to consider the cost of losing his family and possessions. However, before he would face Esau, the process of becoming humble and dismissing prideful thoughts had begun to take effect in his life (33:3). What joy Jacob experienced when Esau ran and embraced him (33:4).
The writer of Proverbs expresses this thought, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverb 16:18). The believer needs to understand the consequences of pride, seek forgiveness, be humble, and be reconciled to God and man. Because of sin, we lost our relationship with God. Because of the death of Jesus, we can now be reconciled to God (Romans 5:10, 11).
It may be difficult to meet someone face to face to make peace, especially if you have wronged that person in the past. If this is your experience, in what way(s) did you seek reconciliation?
Be Genuine (Genesis 33:5-11)
One of the most thoughtful gestures of reconciliation is to offer a gift. Jacob, as it was customary, offered gifts to Esau. Whether it was from the heart or out of fear, the gifts were numerous and extravagant. At first Esau refused, saying God had blessed him as well. Although his birthright and inheritance were stolen by Jacob, Esau was ready to embrace and reconcile with his brother. Esau, no doubt, remembered the blessing he received from his father (27:38-40). However, the two were able to reconcile and embrace each other.
Reconciliation is needed when there is a breakdown in relationships. Concerning reconciliation between God and man, Paul reminds us that we were once God’s enemies, but because of the death of his Son, we receive reconciliation (Romans 5:9-11). We become new creatures, “Therefore is anyone is in Christ, the new creation is come; the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When both parties demonstrate a genuine desire to be restored, reconciliation is possible.
Agree on Limits (Genesis 33:12-15)
As Jacob and Esau part ways, it is clear that Jacob is not quite comfortable with Esau. Perhaps Jacob was afraid of Esau and wanted to keep his distance because of past experiences. Jacob stole Esau’s birthright and inheritance. Similarly, Esau’s blessings stated “when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck” (27:40b).
With all sincerity, Esau offers his best toward Jacob—a convoy of men to guard and protect them as they traveled to Succoth (v. 15). However, Jacob humbly refused. He appreciated the grace not only shown by God, but Esau as well. Esau and Jacob were grateful to God for the intervention and the blessing in their lives, both desired to give each other their best selves.
Years ago, a family had a conflict over the father’s estate. Unfortunately, the conflict was never resolved, and today the family is not on speaking terms. The wisest safeguard in this matter was to compile a simple will. The good news, as in the case of Jacob and Esau, is that God is able to restore earthly relationships and redeem the years lost because of sin. Great is thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me!
Margie Clayton is minister of education at Berean Tabernacle Baptist Church in Liberty.