Suppose you have an older brother. It is just the two of you and your parents. Your brother, as the oldest, is granted certain privileges by society, which you resent, considering you and he are twins and it was just chance that he was born first.
Opportunity presents itself, and you have a once in a lifetime chance to harm your brother. The attention and privileges you crave can now be yours — in abundance! So you frame your brother and eventually have him exiled from the home. He is now homeless, without family, left to fend for himself in this cruel world.
But because you are a schemer, life catches up with you as God has His ways. Your life hasn’t gone as you had hoped; you get stuck in your father in law’s home as, essentially, an indentured servant, with two wives, and broken dreams. You do not have what you
planned schemed for, but at least you reach the point when you are free to go home. On the way back you have time to sort things out. As you leave to go back to your ancestral home, with your wives and servants, you hear something — your learn that your brother is over the hills, coming straight at you with an army of over four hundred men!
What would be going through your mind at this point?
This is, of course, an outline of what happened to Jacob, who, jealous of his older brother Esau, connived to have him banished, only to meet him along the way with his army.
People reading the Bible do so going in thinking that Jacob is a hero. After all, he is a patriarch, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel and sort of the two half tribes (Ephraim and Manasseh). Because of our study notes version of the Bible, this is what we get. If he’s a hero, then he’s always in the right, correct?
But there are no heroes in the Bible.
These blinders cause us to miss the actual message, because when Esau sees Jacob again, he (Esau) is overwhelmed with emotion, kisses his brother, and offers to walk with him back home (Genesis 33. 1-17)!
But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept (Genesis 33.4).
Sadly, still not trusting, Jacob declines the offer of protection and goes his own way.
This story is about many things. It is about forgiveness; it is about compassion; it is about honor; it is about sharing the Earth.
But is is also so very importantly about not fearing the other. That other may surprise you at the end of the day, mostly because it just might be they who end up doing the will of God, and not you!