Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 28 2019 - Genesis 33:1-20 – Brothers reconciled

At last Jacob sees Esau in the distance, coming towards him with his 400 men. Jacob gathers his children with their mothers and walks on ahead of them all to meet his brother, bowing himself to the ground seven times. But Esau ran to meet him and embraced his brother and, "fell on his neck and kissed him, and wept." Jacob, who had tricked his father and wronged his brother, is returning home in fear; but the prodigal son is embraced by his elder brother who rejoices to see that the one who was lost is now found again.

Esau is amazed at all the riches that now belong to his brother. Jacob presses Esau to take a generous portion of the livestock – to share in the blessing that the Lord has given him; he says that seeing Esau again is "like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me" (33:10). Jacob had met God face to face and had not been destroyed; God had dealt graciously with him. Now also he had met his brother and had been shown grace and love in place of the judgment he deserved; it was an echo of his encounter with God.

Nevertheless, Jacob does not fully trust his brother. When Esau returns home, expecting Jacob to follow, Jacob heads off in another direction to make a home for himself at a safe distance from his brother.

The grace by which God has reconciled us to himself in Christ is grace that should be reflected in our own lives, reconciling us to one another and enabling us to live well together in the shared blessing of God. Yet divisions still exist between brothers and sometimes seem beyond resolution. But the day shall come when all division shall be swept away from among the people of God; a day when prodigals who have been embraced by the Father will truly embrace one another and none of the family will be left outside the feast.

Are there members of your own family who have fallen out with each other? Are there some with whom you have a difficult relationship or who you have not spoken with for many years? God has shown you his compassion and undeserved blessing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Are there ways in which you could show forgiveness and compassion towards other members of your family and so be reconciled to one another? Could you host a feast for the prodigal in your family?

Psalm 133 expresses the blessings that might flow from such reconciliation:

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
    when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
    running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
    running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
    which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the LORD has commanded the blessing,
    life for evermore.

Father God, I have seen your glory in the face of Jesus Christ. You have shown me amazing grace – you have run to embrace me and have kissed me in your love. Help me always to reflect that grace in my dealings with others so that, as far as it depends on me, I may seek to live at peace with everyone. May we enjoy the feast of your blessings in happy companionship.

Peter Misselbrook