by Tony Nester

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Jacob's Reconciliation with Esau (5 of 5)
How God Changed “Jacob” into “Israel”
Tony Nester
Genesis 33:1-12

Today I want to give Esau the recognition he deserves.
For the most part Esau comes off looking rather badly
in Scripture. It's very clear that Jacob is the one
that God chooses as the one through whom the promise
to Abraham will be fulfilled. Esau is portrayed as a
bit slow in his thinking, impulsive and foolish, and
is harshly criticized for selling off his birthright
for a pot of stew.

But today we see Esau at his best. Esau forgives his
brother Jacob for all the treachery that Jacob had
committed against him. Some 20 years prior to the
meeting described in today's Scripture reading Jacob
had stolen Esau's blessing from his father, Isaac.
Isaac was old, blind, and close to dying. Jacob took
advantage of the situation and dressed himself up to
look like Esau. He outright lied to Isaac about his
true identity and received the blessing that Esau
deserved to have as the first born son. Then, like
the coward he was, he ran away rather than see his
brother face to face. Esau swore he would kill his
brother for the treachery.

Now, 20 years later, Jacob is coming home. Jacob
trembles at the thought of his confrontation with his
brother. The night before he wrestles with an angel
and receives his new name, "Israel." And now he meets
his brother.

Esau has all the reasons he needs to exert his revenge
over Jacob. He is in the right while Jacob is in the
wrong. And yet here is verse 4 describing what Esau

{4} But Esau ran to meet Jacob, and embraced him, and
fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.

I wonder if Jesus had this verse in mind when he told
the story of the Prodigal Son. When the prodigal son
returns home his father acts very much like Esau.
Like Esau, the father runs to his wayward son,
embraces him, and offers the kiss of reconciliation.
( ...

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