“And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.” -Genesis 33:1-2
Jacob and Esau had a rough history. The stories of their disputes spanning decades. When forced to reconcile, Jacob was fearful. He made plans to appease the debt he owed his brother by sending his family ahead in groups. First his servants, then his unfavored wife and her children, and finally with him, his beloved Rachel and their only son, Joseph.
When I began to read the stories in the Bible as one flowing story instead of keeping each character in their separate boxes, I finally noticed a beautiful detail in the middle of Jacob’s life. When I heard the name Jacob, I would place him in a tent, tricking his twin out of his first born’s inheritance. When I would hear the name Joseph, I’d place him and his colorful coat in a jail cell in Egypt. Somehow I didn’t grasp that each story was THEIRS. TOGETHER. A father and son who lived in a home together. A family. Jacob was a father to a boy, who became a man, who ruled Egypt and saved countless lives from famine. A man who would also find himself in a position of reconciliation with his brothers. Just like his dad.
And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves. -Genesis 33:7
When Esau reacted in a way that no one could have predicted, Joseph was there. When Esau pushed past all others to run and embrace Jacob, his twin, Joseph was there. Colorful coat, dreaming dreams, thrown into a pit, JOSEPH. He was there for it all. There for the before, there for the midst, there for the after. There for the redemption.
When forgiveness was introduced into Joseph’s world, it wasn’t just an ancient tale. It was real life, flesh and bones, sweat and tears. He was a witness of an unimaginable reconciliation. An unfolding scene I am confident he never forgot.The reconciliation of estranged brothers. The reconciliation of his father, and his uncle.
Only years after witnessing Esau and Jacob’s embrace, Joseph would have to pull back those images in his memory. He too would feel the sting of hatred, being misunderstood, and familial betrayal, and he too would be faced with the choice to mimic the examples of his father and uncle or not.
Jacob’s life, the things in his control and the things that were not, taught and molded the lives and integrity of his children. Jacob, although far from perfect, was an influence and forerunner for his kids. His actions and reactions were influential to his children, in both how to behave and how not to. Things are still the same way today.
Children are the audience of our lives. They are there. They see the actions we choose and the reactions we succumb to.They see the wrong choices we make, the wrong choices made against us, and the integrity (or lack thereof) in the hidden places.
So mothers, model forgiveness to your children. Father’s may your kids learn of a steadfast character from your testimony. Uncles and Aunts, use your influence for generosity. Adults, live lives that endorse faithfulness and consistency.
Jacob made the appointment to meet his brother without knowing the imprint this could leave on his character and will of his young son. He was just a man who had wronged his brother, who was willing to confront the one he had conned. Esau agreed to meet Jacob not knowing that his actions would set a new tone for a family who had been conditioned to run from consequences. He was just an uncle, extending mercy in front of a nephew he had never met.
This unexpected encounter, used for good and the glory of God, is a story of hope. A rough history doesn’t have to result in a rough future. Forgiveness can bloom after the sting of loss, and triumph can follow the devastation of a defeat. Our God is a God of redemption, and He has so expertly woven that theme throughout all of history. He established it, models it perfectly, and is an INFALLIBLE Father.
Look to Jesus. His example will never lead us astray.
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the FORERUNNER is for us entered, EVEN JESUS…” -Hebrews 6:20
Let my children tell their children, let this be their memory,
ARH Administrative Director