Learning Forgiveness from Esau and Humility from Jacob

I’ve always been a little disturbed by the story of Rebekah and Jacob deceiving Isaac so that Jacob could gain Esau’s birthright (Genesis 27). The only thing Esau really did wrong was marry two Hittite women who “were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah” (Genesis 26:34-35). I’d love to hear the full story on that…

But, I’m not going to dwell on that today. As sad as it was that Esau was duped out of his birthright, it was the fulfillment of God’s word.

“Two nations are in your womb,
    and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
    and the older will serve the younger.”

Genesis 25: 23

Raffaellino Bottalla - Meeting between Esau and Jacob - Google Art Project

“Meeting between Esau and Jacob,” by Raffaellino Bottalla

Today, I am going to accentuate the positive. The beautiful redemption story that unfolds as Jacob returns to back to his homeland and reunites with Esau.

Jacob believed Esau would murder him in retaliation for taking his birthright all those years before. As a peace offering and an “I’m sorry” gift, Jacob sent a large herd of goats, sheep, camels, cattle, and donkeys (Genesis 32:14-15). Jacob sends them with the message that “They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau” (Genesis 32:18).

Upon their meeting, Jacob bowed down to the ground seven times (Genesis 33:3) as he approached Esau in an act of complete servitude. Jacob’s wives and children also bow to Esau. Jacob declares “For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.” (Genesis 33:10).

These chapters of Genesis are filled with the word “servant.” It is a beautiful act of humility and forgiveness. Bible stories don’t always cast characters in the best light, but in the end, the reader understands the moral of why the story is being told.

Just like in our lives today. Life is full of downs, but we have to trust God that there will be ups if we have faith, live a just life, and offer and accept forgiveness.

Most of us have had a disagreement or falling out with a friend or family member and are terrified of what will transpire during the next meeting. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance it will happen again. So, a lesson can be taken from Esau and Jacob. Jacob offered sincere repentance and Esau exhibited a powerful example of forgiveness. What begins as a sad story of deception ends with a beautiful, touching moment of redemption.

Esau forgave Jacob for stealing his inheritance. Kind of makes some of those petty family squabbles seem trite. Consider reading Genesis 25-28 and 33 the next time you feel you have been wronged or if you have wronged someone yourself. It is the perfect example of how to act on both sides of an argument.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not always the best at this. But, we are all flawed. We are all sinners. It is through prayer and scripture that we can seek to live like God wants us to. Studying the story of Esau and Jacob is a good place to start.

This devotional corresponds with Chapter 2 of The Story. I hope you will prayerfully consider joining us in this faith journey. For more information visit: Read The Story with The Wellness Wife. You can also join our Facebook group, Read “The Story” with The Wellness Wife. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that we’ve already started. You can pick up anywhere and catch up at your leisure.


Pick up The Story at your local Christian or secular bookstore or online:

The Story, NIV: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People

The Story for Teens

The Story for Kids

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