Genesis 32, 33 Jacob, Abraham’s grandson by Isaac and the twin brother of Esau fled for his life yesterday, going to his mother’s brother. He fell in love with Rachael, the uncle’s daughter, but wakes up on the morning after the wedding to discover he has been married to her older sister Leah. He had to work seven more years to marry Rachael! Between Leah, Rachael and their maids, Jacob sires twelve sons but he is living away from his birth family – his mother and father and twin. And he is living under an uncle who has made his life difficult. Jacob, that means “grabber” as he was born holding his brother’s heel, has been out-grabbed by his uncle and he realizes it is time to return home and face his brother.
Jacob has amassed considerable wealth in herds and concocts a plan to appease his brother as he approaches the home turf. Scouts spy the brother coming with a large group of men. Jacob divides his animals and wives and sends small groups of animals ahead as presents, hoping to make peace with Esau. That night he lags behind and wrestles with an angel who dislocates his hip and changes his name to Israel, “because he has struggled with God and with humans and has overcome.”
Esau, unbeknownst to Jacob, has also prospered through the years and greatly mellowed. He is ready to forgive and reconcile. He genuinely embraces Jacob and welcomes him back. This story works as both twins are blessed with wealth and family and need not be jealous of each other any longer. Reconciliation is not easy.
Jesus tells the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. A father has two sons. The younger one claims his inheritance early and leaves. In a foreign country he squanders it and decides to return to the father who welcomes him with open arms. Jacob was the younger twin. In the parable the older brother is not as generous as Esau but is bitter that no party has been thrown for him. The father, who represents God, reaches out to that son reminding him of his welcome and wealth in the father’s home.
Perhaps there is someone with whom you have been at odds. Distance and silence has only compounded the animosity. Could this be the time to reconcile? Forgiveness is basic. Bitterness divides. Looking at the blessings God has given in the “separated years” helps to start the process. Struggling with God and with humans helps produce reconciliation. Perhaps now is the time to take that first step. Blessings.