Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Special thanks to Peggy Graff and her guests for providing this uplifting and inspiring addition to us in her Hymn-a-Day May series. I pray that these paired daily selections will uplift your spirits and feed your soul as much as it does mine.
Genesis 33:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jacob and Esau Meet
33 Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. 2 He put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. 3 He himself went on ahead of them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother.
4 But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 5 When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” 6 Then the maids drew near, they and their children, and bowed down; 7 Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down; and finally Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. 8 Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor with my lord.” 9 But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10 Jacob said, “No, please; if I find favor with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God—since you have received me with such favor. 11 Please accept my gift that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have everything I want.” So he urged him, and he took it.
Genesis 33 contains one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible. It is the story of twin boys named Esau and Jacob. Esau was the first of the twins to be born. As these boys grew up the time approached when Esau would receive their father’s blessing—which everyone knew rightfully belonged to him because he was the eldest son. Also, the birthright belonged to Esau—but through trickery Jacob took the birthright and tricked his father into giving him the blessing that belonged to his brother.
It was a terrible time in that family because when that birthright was taken and when the blessing was given, it could not be reversed. The power of words in the Hebrew culture is something we can’t even begin to understand. In that culture a word spoken is a word with a life of its own: the word has acted, the word has been born, it can’t be taken back, it can’t be reversed. When Esau found out what Jacob had done, he wept aloud and begged for a blessing, but there was no blessing left to give. He was hurt and he was furious, so he vowed to kill Jacob. Remember the power of words? He made a vow, “The next time I see him, I’ll kill him!”
Jacob did the reasonable thing and ran for his life.
Years later then after they both have families, years later after they’ve both been successful and they’re wealthy people, the time comes that Jacob must face his brother. He bowed down to him and he expected trouble but he hoped somehow to be able to appease him with a gift—even though his brother had made a vow—a VOW!—to kill him.
It is a wonderful scene when these two brothers meet after all that time. They embraced and they fell on each other’s shoulders and they wept. Then Jacob—now called Israel—says to his brother, “Seeing your face is like seeing the face of God. With such graciousness you have received me.” Israel saw in the forgiving face of his brother Esau the face of God.
In God’s face is forgiveness and healing! In God’s face is Grace.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster