Year 2 Day 267
Read - Genesis 33
Message - Scott Woodburn
Chapter 33 begins rapidly with Jacob lifting up his eyes and seeing his brother Esau with his four hundred men. As we have journeyed through the book of Genesis we have seen Esau’s rage over his little brother’s trickery. Finally after twenty years they reunite and a mighty battle will take place….and yet…there is no battle.
Jacob approached his older brother bowing himself to the ground seven times (v3). It was a sign of his submission to his brother and his respect. Seven is the perfect number - we speak of the seven seas and in Revelation the Holy Spirit is described as the sevenfold spirit. Jacob bowed completely without any half-heartedness, he didn’t want to fight, he came in peace.
Esau’s response was nothing short of stunning. We are told that he ran to meet Jacob and he fell upon him, kissed him and the brothers wept together (v4)! What had happened? Where had the grudge gone? Where was the fight to the death? If you expected that in chapter 33 then you’ll be sadly disappointed.
After Jacob’s wrestling match with God, he received the new name of Israel. This beautiful name means “the one who strived with God” but it also shows us something of God’s character too. He is the One who strives for His people. As Jacob approached his brother fearing the worst, the Lord had already been at work. The Lord is able to influence the righteous and the wicked alike. Esau was no giant of the faith but the Lord had softened his heart and caused him to forgive his twin brother. Indeed Esau has been so softened that Jacob almost has to force him to receive his gift (v11). The years had moved on and Esau’s wrath had been removed from him.
Unfortunately there is a little bit of the old Jacob in Jacob’s response. Esau urges his brother to come with him to his home in Seir. Jacob agrees but urges his brother to go on ahead and Jacob would follow at his own pace. Needless to say, Jacob had no intention to go to Seir and turns for Succoth instead (v17). Now, let it be said that Jacob was right for not heading to Seir - it was outside the promised land, but did he have to lie to a brother who had treated him with glorious grace? No.
Not only did Jacob lie to Esau, he was also disobedient to God. The Lord had called Jacob to return home to Bethel and instead Jacob camped at Shechem. It was close to Bethel but it wasn’t Bethel. In the midst of a chapter full of reconciliation and grace, we still see underhandedness and disobedience and before we climb onto our self-righteous horse - there but the grace of God go we.
Each one of us has been reconciled to God through faith in Christ. He has and is transforming us by the ordinary means of grace and the mighty work of the Holy Spirit and yet…the old Jacob remains in us all. We rejoice when someone forgives us and then hours later our hearts are as hard as ever. We are brought to our knees by the Word of God and then we quickly forget as something shows up on our Facebook feed. We marvel that Christ has forgiven us and yet we promise never to forgive those who have wronged us. What wretched people we are! Who will rescue us from this body of death?
Esau treated Jacob in a way that he did not deserve and thanks be to God because the Lord acts in the same way. The Gospel tells us that Christ died not for the good but for the ungodly and it is the Lord who runs to us as He takes the initiative in salvation. My brothers and sisters, forgive one another as you have been forgiven. Do not practice deceit but instead let your yes be yes and your no be no. Finally, listen to God and do what He says for we no longer walk in the dark but in the marvellous light of Christ.
Q31 What is effectual calling? Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.