Have you ever had one of those uncomfortable family reunions, a kind of “Meet the Fockers” part three? You are not alone. One biblical family get-together that I can relate to is the reunion of Jacob and Esau.
Jacobs reunion with his brother Esau was like facing a ghost of the past. Family life in their home was one of divided loyalties. Jacob, Rachel’s favourite son and the younger twin, was the homebody; while Esau, dad’s favourite, was the hunter and outdoors man. Children are not always like their parents. Sometime a jock dad has an artsy son and an introverted Dad has a social butterfly for a daughter. In my case, both my daughters are more to the extroverted side than me. Differences are great, but it can create favouritism if parents are not self aware. The missteps in the family of origins can have a lasting effect on our relationships and choices in life if left unacknowledged. Jacob made his choice in his youthful zeal to follow his mother’s guidance and steal something that belonged to his older brother — his blessing. The fallout in the home was enough to divide the family, and sent Jacob to the wilderness and eventually to the home of Uncle Laban,the brother of his mother, who was like her in his deceptiveness. Some sins just seem to run in the family. The long years of serving Laban, in exchange for his daughter, were the making and breaking of Jacob. In Laban, he came face to face with himself and ultimately God. This brings me to my favourite part of the story, the reunion of the brothers. Twenty years of working for Laban were enough for Jacob and his family. However, setting off for home meant meeting one of his own personal giants, Esau. Would Esau receive him or finally get his revenge? When Jacob left it was at the threat of his life. The story has a happy ending, but not until Jacob has spent one long night wrestling with the angel of the Lord. The next day, Jacob limping and nervous meets Esau saying,
Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus he urged him, and he took it. Gen. 33:11.
Jacob is repentant and transformed, from a man who deceives to a man who blesses; from Jacob to Israel.
Our past so often comes back at us, like a ghost, threatening to haunt our steps or stop us in our tracks. The good news is that God uses these very relationships to bring out His best in us.