24 October 2021 PM – Genesis 33 – Gen2021 – Scott Childs
Introduction: Reconciliation is re-establishing cordial relations. Jacob and Esau had a major falling out when Jacob deceived their father and stole the firstborn blessing. Esau hated Jacob and vowed to kill him. Jacob left the country. They never heard from each other for twenty years. During those long years, they had no inner peace nor outward harmony.
            Sadly, this is not just a biblical account; it is a reality for many people today. Two friends or two loved ones had a disagreement and went their separate ways, taking their hurts with them. Biblical reconciliation is the only good solution.
Transition: As we consider the reconciliation of Jacob and Esau after 20 years of separation, I want us to find applications for us from the act, benefit and result of their reconciliation.
  1. The Act of Reconciliation
a.         The brothers forgive (v.3-4)
1)         Jacob had taken the first step by obeying God and returning to Canaan. Though he was fearful, he obeyed. He had wrestled with God and God promised to bless him. This move in the right direction caused Jacob to spend much time in prayer with God.
2)         Jacob courageously passed over (probably the Jabbok River) and headed toward Esau. As he went, he bowed himself seven times before his brother. He was showing outward submission to his elder brother. If he had not tricked Esau and deceived their father years earlier, he would have no need to bow as he did. This was an outward show of his repentance.
3)         God motivated Esau to run to meet Jacob.
4)         Esau embraced Jacob. They hugged each other.
5)         Esau fell on Jacob’s neck and kissed him.
6)         The brothers wept together. They reconciled!
b.         Jacob made introductions (v.5-7)
1)         Jacob humbly introduces his wives and children.
2)         Each of his wives and children bowed before Esau. Obviously, Jacob had instructed them carefully. They knew the potential danger of meeting Esau.
c.          Jacob insisted that Esau take his gifts (v.8-11)
1)         He explained that his gifts were to find grace in Esau’s sight (v.8). They were to help calm any tensions that remained between the brothers.
2)         Esau resisted, but Jacob insisted, and he took them.
3)         Jacob was overjoyed that Esau was pleased to see him.
  • Seeking reconciliation with someone with whom you have been at odds is never easy. It takes courage. It requires humility. It demands dependence on God. It takes action. If there is something between you and another person, God wants you to reconcile. If you trust God, He will help you, just as He did Jacob.
2.        The Benefit of Reconciliation
a.         Internal peace (v.1-2)
1)         We just noted Jacob’s joy that Esau was pleased to see him. What a relief that must have been to Jacob. For 20 years, he had carried that burden, and now it was lifted.
2)         He had feared for his wives and children. That fear of meeting Esau was now gone.
3)         Jacob now had peace in his heart.
  • Many marriages today lack peace because the husband and wife need to reconcile with each other. Selfishness, lack of love and unkind words have resulted in bitterness. That bitterness has built a wall between them. Neither is humbly willing to begin the journey toward reconciliation, thus, the lack of peace continues to increase the pain.
b.         External harmony (v.12-16)
1)         Esau suggested that they travel on together (v.12).
2)         Jacob humbly made excuse for his family and flocks (v.13-14).
3)         Esau wanted to leave some men with Jacob to help him, but Jacob declined (v.15).
4)         The only thing that Jacob requested was to find grace or favour in Esau’s sight.
5)         The brothers were once again back in harmony with each other.
  • Peace and harmony are two blessed benefits of reconciliation. Neither can exist before reconciliation. Whether you have had a spat with your spouse, a disagreement with your parent, or a fall-out with a friend, you can have no internal peace or external harmony until you reconcile.
3.        The Result of Reconciliation
a.         He settled in the Promised Land (v.17-19)
1)         Jacob travelled to Succoth.
a)         No one knows for certain where Succoth was located, but it was likely on the east of Jordan near the Jabbok River.
b)         There he built a house and shelters for his animals.
2)         Jacob moved westward to Shechem (v.18).
a)         There he pitched his tent before the city.
b)         He bought a field near Shechem (v.19).
c)         Jacob must have stayed at Succoth and Shechem for about 10 years. We know this because his children were 6-13 years old when they left Haran, and in the next chapter, his daughter is a teenager and the older boys are young men.
3)         Because Jacob had reconciled with his brother, he had no fear of now moving back into the Promised Land and settling down.
b.         He built an altar and worshipped God (v.20)
1)         Jacob then made an altar. Here Jacob worshipped.
2)         Jacob was fulfilling the vow he had made at Bethel 20 years earlier. (Genesis 28:20-21) “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
3)         Jacob had much for which to thank God. God had kept him safe travelling to Haran 20 years earlier. He is now married with 12 children. He has hundreds if not thousands of animals and many servants. God gave him a safe journey south and protected him from angry Laban. God calmed the hatred of his brother Esau. They had met and reconciled and were now on peaceful terms.
4)         “God had granted Jacob’s request by bringing him safely back into the Promised Land (cf. 28:20-21). As he had vowed, Jacob worshipped the God of his father as his God. He called Yahweh “El-Elohe-Israel” meaning, “The mighty God is the God of Israel.” Jacob used his own new name, Israel (32:29).” – T. Constable
a)         As far as we can tell, God was pleased with Jacob and accepted his offering.
b)         Years before, his grandfather Abraham had also built an altar in Shechem.
5)         As a result of his reconciliation to his brother and obedience to God, Jacob was also at peace and in harmony with God.
6)         We must remember Jesus words regarding our worship. (Matthew 5:23-24) “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Conclusion: Because we are sinners, we will offend others. When that happens, we desperately need reconciliation. Jacob humbly obeyed God and made reconciliation with his brother Esau. Is there someone in your life with who you are out of fellowship? It does not matter if the issue is large or small. If tension exists, you too need to humbly obey God and seek to reconcile with that person.
            As with Jacob, you may fear seeking reconciliation, but God helped Jacob, and He will help you. Determine right now that you will humble yourself and begin your journey toward reconciliation this very evening. Do as Jacob did. Pray much. Trust God. Humbly approach that person. Reconciliation is not a time for defending yourself and blaming others. It is a time to confess and forgive. The benefits are great. God will give you peace and harmony. You will again be able to worship the Lord with a clean heart.
Song: Cleanse Me – 166