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Genesis 33: Reunion


Genesis 33: Reunion

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Hendrick Ter Bruggen: Esau Selling His Birthright

In the past we have reflected on the story of how Jacob found himself in hiatus from all he knew – and how we find ourselves in that same place from time to time in our lives.  Often we wander – guessing at our true destiny, seeing glimpses of it now and then, wanting the end of the endless waiting to arrive.  We have also reflected on how Jacob came to realize that his place of exile from home had become dangerous.  He plots to outwit Laban, his father-in-law, and he manages to escape the wrath of Laban’s sons – but where does he go?  He returns home.  Re reunites with his brother Esau– whom he had deceived.  The story of Jacob until this point is one of God’s pruning of a valuable vine.  So too are we the branches of this same vine.  So too does the master of the vineyard prune us – his faithful.

Today we reflect on Jacob’s reunion with the brother he had deceived.  We can learn much about ourselves in this meeting of two who once loved and have been in hiatus.

As I read through these verses today I am so struck by how this relationship has changed during the brothers’ time apart.  The attitude of deception that characterized Jacob in Chapter 27 is gone and in fact Jacob begs Esau to accept his presence and his gifts in verse 10.  And look at what he says.  “No, I beg you!” said Jacob.  “If you will do me the favor, please accept this gift from me, since to come into your presence is for me like coming into the presence of God, now that you have received me so kindly”.

Jacob – in receiving mercy from his brother rather than a wrath that would be justified – realizes and then admits aloud that he and Esau have a holy union.  They are meant to love one another and not deceive one another.  During their time apart, Jacob has come to understand that not only had he tried to deceive Esau when he sought to cheat him of his birthright . . . he had sought to deceive God himself.  He had sought to manipulate God’s plan.

Esau wants to accompany his brother home.  Jacob does not want to tax his family or his herds.  Esau offers guards to ensure the safety of his brother’s tribe.  Jacob declines.  The two bothers come to an agreement and eventually reunite.

Last year when we reflected on Jacob and the lessons he learned about being willing and faithful, this was the prayer that came to us that day.  I offer it again below.  May all of our waiting dreams and broken hearts find such sweet reunion as these two brothers with whom we reflect today.

Sweet and loving God, may I be ever-listening, ever-faithful, ever-willing to obey your plan.  I understand that you have something wonderful in mind for me and that from where I stand I cannot see as well as you and so sometimes I am a bit afraid of what will pop up next over my horizon.  May I refrain from manipulation and from being manipulated.  May I refrain from separating myself from you, may I return to you always when I am afraid, because I know that you are always with me.  Amen.   


Image from: http://www.pubhist.com/work/10288/hendrick-ter-brugghen/esau-selling-his-birthright

Written on October 17, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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joyWednesday, November 5, 2014

Genesis 31

Joy and the Deceiver

This is the first in a number of posts in which we will visit scripture looking for stories about joy. These tales will surprise us in a number of ways as we explore. If you wish to read more about how joy astonishes us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see what surprises you there. Today we begin with the book which holds scripture’s oldest stories: Genesis.

In today’s story we read of the relationship between Jacob and his uncle Laban. After deceiving his father and brother – with the help of his mother – and depriving his older twin brother of his birthright, Jacob leaves home to travel to a distant land where he lives with his mother’s brother. Laban promises protection and wages and Jacob settles into his new life, taking his wives Leah and Rachel from among Laban’s daughters, and establishing his own family. But as happens so often in family dynamics, Jacob’s uncle and cousins become jealous of Jacob’s prosperity.

Verse 2: Jacob saw the attitude of Laban, and behold, it was not friendly toward him as formerly.

And also as so often happens in our human relationship with God, the all-knowing creator sends word to guide and assure us.

Ribera: Jacob with the Flock of Laban

Ribera: Jacob with the Flock of Laban

Verse 3: Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you”.

Jacob and his wife Rachel deceive Laban so that they might take their children, livestock and belongings to return home; but Laban pursues them and all hope seems lost until God surprises Jacob’s household with joy.

Verses 24 and 25: God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night and said to him, “Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob either good or bad”. Laban caught up with Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsmen camped in the hill country of Gilead.

Laban and Jacob meet and each speaks his mind. They argue. They air grievances and sort out quarrels.

Verse 27: Why did you flee secretly and deceive me, and did not tell me so that I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with timbrel and with lyre; and did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters?

Finally uncle and nephew reach a covenant agreement and seal their pact with ritual stones at Mizpah. The drama ends with each man stepping away from violence, each man going his way, each man blessing the other.

Verse 55: Early in the morning Laban arose, and kissed his sons and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned to his place.

Brugghen: Jacob Reproaching Laban for Giving him Leah in Place of Rachel

Brugghen: Jacob Reproaching Laban

In a story chock full of deceit, joy surprises us. In a tale with so much potential for violence, God speaks to the heart. In the patriarch saga of bloodshed and deception God brings us to the joy of mercy. Let us consider today the times we have moved out of a relationship without allowing the joy of knowing one another kindle forgiveness. Let us reflect on the times we have deceived another without offering the gift of asking pardon. Let us remember the joy that surprises all deceivers. And knowing that God is always with us, let us look for the joy that is waiting to surprise us today.

To learn about the story of Jacob, spend time with Genesis chapters 25-36. For insight into the relationship between Jacob, Leah, Rachel and Laban, and how both joy and deception play roles in Jacob’s life, visit: https://bible.org/seriespage/never-satisfied-story-jacob-and-rachel 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/ 

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