“But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” (Gen.33:4)
Grace carries in its bosom a wealth of possibilities. Forgiveness is chief among them.
It had been more than 15 years since Esau had seen his younger twin brother. And when he had last seen him, he was so angry, so bitter. Who might blame him? His wily younger sibling had swindled him. Not once, but twice! He’d lost a promised future and yes, a promised fortune, the largest share of an estate.
The first bit of trickery occurred when Esau had come into his brother’s tent famished. It had been a long and exhausting hunt and Esau believed himself to be starving and near death. “What good is a birthright to me if I die of starvation”, he reasoned. He would do anything for nourishment and Jacob knew it. He knew this big gluten of an older brother lacked self-control and a sharp mind. Esau’s appetites and physical senses often got the best of him. And in this moment of “near starvation” he was “easy pickins”. His birthright was there for the taking. And Jacob took it!
The second instance was even worse than the first. Esau had gone out for the hunt. His father had hungered to taste the game his oldest boy would hunt and kill. Fearing that he was near death, Isaac wanted the game that Esau would bring in as his last meal. Aware of Esau’s absence, mother Rebekah knew that the time was right to put her plan into action. She convinced Jacob to disguise himself cleverly as his older brother. The light in Isaac’s eyes was too dim. He would not see the difference. The scent of Esau would be in his clothes. Jacob would wear Esau’s garment when he took the delicious meal prepared by Rebekah into his father’s tent, further deceiving his aging father’s senses of smell and touch. With the rich aroma of Isaac’s favorite meal, Jacob’s clever costume, and a few lies the plan would be worked out. Jacob, and not Esau, received his father’s blessing. Once the trickery was uncovered and knowing that his blessing had been stolen, Esau’s cry shattered the silence. “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” But it was not to be.
And Esau reacted; angrily! He vowed to kill his brother. He married foreign women to spite his parents’ wishes. He moved out of the house - to foreign lands, and thus became vacant from the pages of scripture which would tell Jacob’s story. …Until now, some 15 years later. He would finally come face to face with his brother. And he had brought an army of 400 men with him.
“But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”
This was a Prodigal Son type of reunion! How do you explain it?
Perhaps in the intervening years since Esau had left home he had time to reflect. Perhaps he had understood that while his earthly father, Isaac, had but one blessing to give, Esau’s heavenly Father had many more. Perhaps in that time Esau felt God’s grace in some way. Perhaps he had realized that anger and resentment, penned up, did nothing but destroy from the inside. Perhaps there was regret. What had he gained by getting back at his parents through his marriages to foreigners? Perhaps he realized his own foolishness in giving away his birthright for the instant gratification of a pot of stew. Perhaps he had despised what he should have prized. Perhaps he had asked for forgiveness, undeserved forgiveness. Perhaps, like his brother Jacob, Esau had his own wrestling match with God. I believe that there are times in our own lives when we wrestle with the Almighty. Perhaps, like the Prodigal Son, Esau had come to his senses and sought forgiveness from the Great Grace Giver.
Perhaps Esau had come to this day with revenge in his heart. Whatever Jacob may have at his disposal, he couldn’t overpower Esau and 400 fighting men. Perhaps it was only when Esau saw Jacob approaching, bowing in humility, the sign of paying homage, not once but seven times. Perhaps Esau had perceived that this was Jacob’s way of saying “I’m truly sorry”. Perhaps it was in that very moment that Esau heard God’s call to exchange penned up anger for grace. Perhaps there was a change of heart. God’s grace does that. It changes hearts. It can set you free. It has for me. I know that it can for you.
“When” the change in Esau happened is not nearly as important as “that” it happened. Esau granted grace to his brother, grace that could only come from his heavenly Father. Somewhere along the line Esau’s hard heart had become pliable, mold-able, changeable; the kind of heart that God loves to work with. And though Esau had been denied the one blessing from Isaac, he would not be denied the blessings of God the Father. Penitent, he only needed to ask. You see …
“It’s all about grace.”