Peace be with you!
Each transition in life changes you for better or worse. A transition takes you on a journey and challenges your opinions and view about the world. My divorce has made me more cautious about letting people into my life. In a past relationship, I became shut off from friends and family members who did not like my significant other. The months following my break up, loved ones started coming back around and invited me to different events again. I am still cautious about meeting new people and trusting them right away. I am no longer the carefree person I was in college, but I am no longer afraid to say what I am thinking. Transitions change your perspective.
We have seen Jacob go through several transitions. Jacob cons his older brother out of his birthright (Genesis 25:29-34) and is sent away by his parents (Genesis 27:41-45) and goes to Haran (Genesis 28:10) to find a wife among his kinsman. The Lord promises to give Jacob land and many descendents (Genesis 28:13-15). Jacob marries Leah and Rachel, who give him twelve sons and a daughter. Before leaving Haran, Jacob tricks Laban out of the strong sheep and becomes wealthy (Genesis 30:41-43). Over the course of twenty years, Jacob has gone through several transitions. However, he is about to face his scariest transition: going back home to face his brother.
Jacob sends his two wives, his children, and his possessions ahead of him and stays alone in the wilderness one night (Genesis 32:22-23). Biblical scholars debate why Jacob stays behind while sending his wives and his children ahead. Does Jacob hope Esau finds pity in his heart for his family? Is Jacob afraid of Esau? Maybe Jacob stays behind to make sure Laban does not come after them again. Nevertheless, the night gives Jacob time to wrestle with God (literally) and discuss his next transition.
A man comes to wrestle with Jacob through the night, and he knocks Jacob’s hip out of its socket (Genesis 32:24-25). The man demands to be let go, but Jacob refuses to release the man until he blesses him (Genesis 32:26). Jacob still demands to be blessed, even as he goes to face his brother. From one standpoint, Jacob is still out for himself. Yet the man blesses Jacob by changing his name to Israel (“the one who contends with God and prevails”). Israel will become a father of a nation, but first he has to face his brother, Esau.
Jacob joins his family and meets Esau and his four hundred men. Jacob goes in front and bows seven times in front of Esau (Genesis 33:3). Then Esau runs to Jacob and embraces him in a hug (Genesis 33:4). Jacob gives Esau the livestock (Genesis 33:8, 11) as a peace offering for his past wrongdoings.
Esau has every right to hold a grudge over Jacob, but instead he embraces him. The bond between brothers goes deeper than an argument and stands the test of time. Jacob and Esau reconcile and find peace.
This past week one of my mentees lost her brother in a diving accident. Her brother was seventeen with a bright future in the navy. When I heard the news, I tried to imagine the last decade – my wedding, my graduations, and my divorce – without my brother, the one constant in my life. I can’t imagine life without him; even with our fights, our bond is still so special. Just as Jacob and Esau were able to reconcile and find peace with each, may you also find peace and reconciliation in your relationship with your family. God can heal relational wounds and make us whole.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for wrestling with Jacob and blessing him with a new name. Help us to hold our relationships with our siblings in high esteem and not to take them for granted. Lead us to forgive when our siblings hurt us and to embrace them with love. Thank you for giving Jacob and Esau a chance to reconcile. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- How have you wrestled with the Lord?
- When and how have you reconciled with a sibling or a close friend?
1 Photo Credit: Amber Sue Photography, www.ambersuephotography.com