Tonight we are going to look at Genesis again and we are looking at Genesis 33. If you remember, Jacob is on his way home, he’s escaped the entanglement of his father-in-law Laban and he is headed towards another conflict - he’s meeting his brother.
Jacob, was a little bit of a crook. He was a taker, not a giver. He was willing to deceive his father and deceive his brother to gain a blessing that didn’t belong to him. He was willing to take advantage of his brother’s situation to buy something that he should have respected with a bowl of soup. Everything about Jacob before he left for Padan-aram showed a person who didn’t care at all about anybody but himself.
When he left home - he was leaving in part because he had to. Because he knew that as soon as his brother had the opportunity, he was going to kill him.
Now, he’s coming home. He’s a different man. He’s met the grace of God. God has changed him. God has taken him from “Jacob” (Which means supplanter or trickster) to Israel (which means prince with God.) He’s met God at Bethel and seen the ladder of angels going up and down and in the last chapter he wrestled with God through the night. He is a changed man. He walks with the limp of a changed man. He’s right with God, but he still has to face his brother.
Lets read chapter 33 together.
”1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. 2 And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost. 3 And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. 4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept. 5 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who [are] those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant. 6 Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves. 7 And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves. 8 And he said, What [meanest] thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, [These are] to find grace in the sight of my lord. 9 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself. 10 And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me. 11 Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took [it]. 12 And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee. 13 And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children [are] tender, and the flocks and herds with young [are] with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. 14 Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir. 15 And Esau said, Let me now leave with thee [some] of the folk that [are] with me. And he said, What needeth it? let me find grace in the sight of my lord. 16 So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir. 17 And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. 18 And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which [is] in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. 19 And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money. 20 And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel.”
This chapter is a mix of victory and failure. Victory over Essau. Failure to completely obey God by deceiving Essau. Victory in coming back to the promised land. Failure in taking his time doing it and then in going to a half-way spot instead of Bethel. Victory in building an altar, then we’ll see failure in the next chapter.
Victory, failure, victory, failure, victory, failure.
Sound familiar? That’s what a lot of our Christian walk looks like sometimes doesn’t it? We’d love to just march on to God, we’d love to be Israel (Prince with God) but we’ve still God our Jacob nature pulling us back.
We are just going to focus on the Jacob and Essau part tonight. There is a lot of stuff in this chapter beyond that. Adam might preach on it next week or we might lump it in with chapter 34.
The chapter starts with Jacob anticipating meeting Essau. He looks up and he sees Essau coming for 400 armed men. Trouble. It looks bad.
So Jacob takes his family and puts them behind him. He orders them in order of importance - the servants with their kids, Leah with her kids and lastly, Rachel with Joseph.
Their is a failure right there. That favoritism is still there. Jacob was still treating his children and his family unequally. It’s not wonder that later on, Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him and throw him in a pit.
But Jacob puts himself out front and he bows himself to Essau 7 times. This is the kind of thing you would do in those days for a king. He is making a big scene of his humility. Calling Essau his Lord. Honoring Essau.
Really, he is kind of giving Essau back what He had stolen from him. He is giving Essau more than the honor Essau deserved as the firstborn. That blessing dictated that his brother would serve him, and here he is serving his brother.
Do you know what he is doing here? He is making restitution. He’s trying to bring about reconciliation. Jacob was right with God, but Jacob still had to get right with his brother. He had to humble himself. He had to back up his words with actions. He had to show, not just say, that he was a different man.
That’s what I want to preach on mainly tonight is reconciliation. I want to give you three points about reconciliation tonight:
He’s a different person and he’s trying to make it right.
How did Essau respond? Look at verse 4. One of the sweetest verses in the Bible:
”And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.”
Essau was overwhelmed by Jacob’s humility and generosity and I think Essau forgave Jacob.
I don’t think that is what He set out to do. But that is what He did.
Now, listen. Let me preach for awhile. It’s super important that you be right with God. But if you are right with God, God wants you to be right with other people too.
Remember when Zacchaeus was saved? Zacchaeus the wee little man. Do you know what Zacchaeus did when he met Jesus? He immediately promised to pay back all the people he’d stolen from. You see, Zacchaeus was right with God and being right with God made him want to be right with his fellow men.
Romans 13:8 says
”Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”
Romans 12:18 says
”If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
God wants us to strive to be right with people.
Maybe, just maybe, there is someone who you have wronged. Maybe you took something from someone. Maybe you said some nasty stuff to someone that really hurt them. Maybe you lied about someone and hurt them. Maybe you tricked someone. I don’t know. Maybe it was before you were saved.
God wants you to make it right. God doesn’t want there to be anything between you and someone else if there is something you can do about it.
First, the cost is confrontation. In other words, if you want to get right with someone, you have to stop running from them. Stop avoiding them.
Jacob had been avoiding Essau for decades. Decades! Jacob was so worried about facing Essau that it drove him to the biggest crisis in his life.
But Jacob still had to face Essau or there would never be reconciliation.
So, if there is someone you’ve failed - stop running. Man up and face it. Take steps to make it right.
The second cost is humility. Jacob bowed on his face before Essau and treated him like a king. He kept calling him “my Lord” and referring to himself as “your servant.” It was a total act of humility.
Do you know - there aren’t many people who are willing to look you in the eye and say in no uncertain terms “I was wrong. I shouldn’t have done that. Will you forgive me.”
Do you know why? Because it costs something. It costs pride. It takes humility to do that on a level most people just don’t have.
One of the reasons so many people aren’t right with others is because they cannot bring themselves to say “I was wrong.” They don’t do it because they have too much stinking pride.
Listen to me - hear this. That kind of pride isn’t doing you any favors. God isn’t a fan of pride. The Bible repeats this exact statement two times: (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5)
”God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
Your pride is NOT a good thing. It is not some noble thing. More often than not, it’s our stinking pride that drives a wedge in our relationship with God and it’s our stinking pride that puts us out with other people.
God says in Proverbs that there are six things he hates, and the very first one is ”a proud look.”
Proverbs 29:23 says
”A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”
Matthew 23:12 says:
”And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
Are you picking up a theme?
God hates pride. God resists pride. Pride is not a good thing. It keeps us from God and it hurts our relationships.
So if you are going to reconcile with others, it’s going to cost you pride. You are going to have to eat some humble pie.
The third cost of reconciliation is restitution. In other words, Jacob didn’t just stop running from Essau, He didn’t just humble himself, He took out his checkbook to make old wrongs right.
In this story - Jacob sends over 550 animals to Essau. That’s a small fortune. That was a significant portion of Jacob’s wealth. The modern equivalent would be selling your house and giving half of the equity away.
This wasn’t a cheap “I’m sorry.” Jacob had really harmed Essau and he wanted Essau to know He was going to make it right.
Essau even tried to turn it down. He said “I have enough my brother” but Jacob wouldn’t have it. He wanted to make it right and clear the air.
Now, I’m not saying that if you have wronged someone, you have to sell your house to make it right. But I am saying it may cost you something.
If you slandered someone, you might have to admit that publicly to clear their name (which will hurt yours). If you took something from someone, you should probably give it back. If you burned a bridge, you may have to build it back.
If you really care about obeying God and making it right, it will cost you. You’ll have to face up, eat some humble pie and maybe even pay up. But you should do it graciously and willingly.
Let me give you one more point about reconciliation...
I think he did. I think he got at least three things.
First, he got a
A clear conscience. Imagine living for twenty years with the knowledge that you lied to your dad and stole from your brother. Imagine having that on your conscience.
I imagine there were quite a few nights where Jacob lay in bed and the thought of what he had done came back to haunt him. I imagine he felt a lot of shame at times over this.
But not after this chapter. After this chapter, Jacob could have a clear conscience. He had sought God’s forgiveness and he had done everything in his power to make it right.
Listen - if you have wronged someone and you need to make it right - it’s worth it to have a clear conscience.
The second thing Jacob gained was...
A restored relationship. He got his brother back.
That’s such a joy. You know, one of my best friends in the whole world is Bob Radank - a missionary to Germany. But Bob and I didn’t talk for years. Years! Because I said something stupid. But when we finally made it right - we got a restored relationship. I got my brother back.
A little humility is a small price to pay for a restored relationship.
Some of you could have your brother, your sister, your father, your mother, your best friend back if you just seek reconciliation.
The third thing that Jacob got that we get when we seek out reconciliation like this is...
A terrific testimony. Do you know the reason Jacob gave for trying to restore what he had taken from Essau. Look at verse 11:
”Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it”
It was because of the grace of God that Jacob could restore what he had taken.
There is a New Testament parallel to this too. In Matthew 5 where it talks about turning the other cheek and going the second mile, it also talks about leaving your gift on the altar to be reconciled with your brother. It’s something you do when God is working in you and do you know what? It’s not something we see lost people do very often.
Jacob came into this meeting despised - he left this meeting with a testimony with His brother. It cost him. It cost him dearly. But he gained an awful lot too.
Let me wrap this up tonight by urging you - make it right. As I’ve been preaching, if God has been working in your heart about someone you have wronged - make it right.
Some of you need to make a phone call tonight. Some of you need to write a letter. Some of you need to go to someone and say “I blew it, I was so wrong, is there anything I can do to make it up to you.”
Make it right. Reconcile.
Let’s stand for invitation.