Have you ever had a relationship fall apart in a big way only to be restored again? I’m talking about the kind of “falling-out” that results in years of separation from and perhaps hostility toward each other? What was it like when you were able to amend the relationship? Was there a huge wait lifted off your shoulders or did it feel more like you were getting “past” something. Did you feel like something was finally behind you or did you look forward to future? Perhaps you wondered “why didn’t I do that sooner.”
Whatever the case might be, few of us have experienced this kind of thing on the level that Jacob and Esau had. If you’ve had difficult relationships in the past, perhaps you’ve learned some of the same things I have – for example, that the problem is magnified when it’s family, and that was certainly the case with these two brothers. All the typical sibling rivalries are certainly compounded by the jealousy that inevitably comes when the parents so obviously favor one child over the other.
Of course there’s the fact that dispute was also about money. How many families and friends have been driven apart by a dispute over finances? We tend to just each other’s character by how we spend our money and lending money to family or friends is always a recipe for disaster. Is it any wonder that such a sharp wedge was driven between Jacob and Esau when Jacob basically stole Esau’s entire inheritance?
How about the fact that in spite of the shortcomings of his character, Jacob went on to prosper? We hate to see the people that wronged us end up so happy don’t we? Wouldn’t we rather they live out their days in sorrow for what they have done to us?
If you can’t relate on some level to the disagreement between Jacob and Esau then you should count yourself fortunate. I don’t believe, however, that many of us could claim to have escaped this particular tragedy. In fact, it’s all too prevalent in families and in churches. After all, a church is a family and familiarity breeds contempt whether last names are shared or not. We are surrounded by broken relationships and past regrets. They haunt our memories and rob our joy. We are reminded of them by Satan on a daily basis. They cause us stress and can literally make it difficult to breathe.
I can’t imagine the relief, joy and peace that Jacob must have felt as his brother Esau came running toward him and wrapped his arms around his neck. For the believer, this moment can be extra sweet as we believe that while God has been working on us through a torn relationship, he has also had his hand on the other person and has been leading them toward reconciliation as well.
In the book of Revelation, Jesus, the lamb, says “Behold I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Actually what is really conveyed there is that he is making all things new again. In other words, he is fixing what is broken. It is an acknowledgment that he has the power to restore things to the way they should be because he’s the one who made them in the first place.
Only God has this power. That is why after this amazing turn of events, Jacob builds and altar and calls it El Elohe Israel, which means “The Mighty God of Israel”. Wouldn’t you like to do the same? Wouldn’t you like to celebrate God’s power in putting right what was wrong? If so, start with this – forgive those who have wronged you, ask forgiveness from those you have wronged and let God do the rest.
God designed you to be unique. He also designed you to live in community with others who are unique in their own right. The goal is not for us to be, act or think the same; the goal is that we can simply bow down and worship the same God.