Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Current Study: Reconciliation
Today’s Topic: Trust the Promises of God
Today’s Scripture: Genesis 33:10 For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.
It was a bad case of sibling rivalry. In their culture, the oldest male child was given the birthright, which meant he would not only officially carry on the family name and heritage, but would receive a double portion of the inheritance. It was understood and accepted by all the other siblings who were usually separated by a year or more in age. But in this case, two brothers were born just minutes apart. In fact, they were born so close together that the second twin actually had a hold of the heel of the first born as they were delivered. Poor mom. What is that like to deliver a baby with his arms pushed out first?
Even in the birth of twins, it is obvious which one is the firstborn. He would be the child of blessing and he would receive the birthright and the inheritance. Or would he? Mom knew the answer. Even while in the womb the two babies had been jostling for position. Their mother asked the Lord for an explanation. He told her that each boy would be the father of a great nation, but that the younger boy’s nation would be the greater, and the older boy would end up serving the younger one. Hence the sibling rivalry. But that rivalry was exaggerated by the parents. Dad liked the oldest brother best, and favored him. Mom chose the younger brother, and nurtured him. She even went so far as to try to assist God in the accomplishment of His plan for the boys.
When they were grown and prospering, word came to the younger son that his twin brother’s caravans were on an intercept course with his own. He was scared. He feared for his life and the lives of all his family members and servants. He knew that reconciliation was the only possible solution. So he devised a plan that would hopefully appease his brother and make peace. The foundation of that plan was the promises of God. As he is preparing to meet his brother by dividing his entourage into two groups and designating a series of large gifts to be presented to his brother, he stops to commit the outcome to the Lord. He prays, “I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’” The promise of God gave him the confidence to seek reconciliation.
Wrestling with reconciliation of people is hard work. It takes great endurance and perseverance. To test the younger brothers resolve, God sends a man – I believe the Son of Man – to wrestle with him. The young brother is so strong and determined that the Lord has to actually dislocate his hip. Still he will not let go until he receives the blessing of God for his life. Not only does God bless him, but he changes his name. No longer would he be called Jacob, but rather Israel, and would become the father of the nation after his own name.
Immediately after the wrestling match, as the sun rose on a new day, Israel saw his older twin brother Esau coming towards him. He went towards his brother in brokenness and humility, trusting the promises of God. As he approached him with bowed head, his brother ran to him and embraced him. They hugged and they wept as their conflict melted into reconciliation. But that wasn’t enough for the older brother. He wanted to be completely reconciled, and his first words resulted in his introduction to all the members of Israel’s family. There would be no remaining animosity.
Israel of course believed that his gifts had paved the way for such reconciliation. But that was laid to rest quickly when Esau minimized their importance in the reconciliation by refusing to accept them. Israel insisted, but not because the he considered the gifts to be a bribe, but rather an expression of thanksgiving for the reconciliation that took place. Israel said, “Accept these gifts, for to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.” Gifts cannot bribe reconciliation. Gifts are the result of reconciliation.
So what did we learn? You will probably get more out of this story than just one point as the Holy Spirit makes application of the truths to your specific situations in life. But this one thing is significant for me – By trusting the promises of God, I will persevere through any pain and be patient no matter how long it takes, so that I might receive the blessing of God that comes through reconciled relationships. How about you?