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Genesis 36: Forgiveness Is a Great Thing

Genesis 36 is one of those giant genealogical chapters. This time, we are going to be looking at the line of Esau who became known as Edom.

One thing that I found particularly interesting was the identity of one of Esau’s wives.

Gen 36:2  Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite;

Gen 36:3  And Bashemath Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebajoth.

Esau actually married one of Ishmael’s daughters.

It is interesting that even at this point in history, there was apparently some level of contact between the lines of Isaac and Ishmael.

We saw earlier how they both came together to bury their father when he passed away, and their children obviously had some degree of contact as well.

In my mind, this is another reference to the fact that these people forgave each other.

Many marriages during this time were arranged according to Jim West of the Quartz Hill School of Theology as well as many other sources around the Internet that I found.

If Ishmael was still upset with Isaac and jealous of the fact that he kind of took his place, I highly doubt that he would have allowed his daughter to marry the son of Isaac.

That must have been some pretty strong forgiveness.

However, as hard as that is to believe, it is apparently what happened.

By definition, forgiveness covers a lot of bad things that happened in the past.

If you go online to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, here is what they tell you forgiveness means.

“To cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon”

I think that we sometimes miss this fact in our lives. We have all come into contact with people who have perhaps stepped over us.

Ishmael very possibly felt some resentment. After all, if Ishmael had remained the only child, he would have obviously been the favorite.

However, as we now realize in chapter 36, their children were marrying each other. There must have been some reconciliation.

In all of our relationships that might have taken a wrong turn, we should seek reconciliation as well. Nobody benefits from grudges, and God is able to help us find the power to forgive.

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Genesis 33: Isn’t It Better to Forgive?

We just learned in the previous chapter that Jacob was incredibly nervous about seeing his brother Esau again. After all, Jacob had definitely pulled some major shenanigans when they were younger, and he was worried that he thought would never forgive him.

Jacob wasn’t necessarily being paranoid for no reason. After all, Esau had thought about killing him in the past.

However, when the brothers finally came together, Jacob must have been shocked.

Gen 33:4  And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.

Gen 33:5  And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.

Gen 33:6  Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves.

Gen 33:7  And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.

Gen 33:8  And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.

Gen 33:9  And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.

Gen 33:10  And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.

Gen 33:11  Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.

Forgiveness is a powerful force. Over the years, it appears that Esau finally forgave Jacob for all that had passed between them.

I have to admit that reading this story always makes me smile because it is rare to see such bitter enemies reconcile. However, it kind of makes me a little bit sad that I am surprised to begin with.

I shouldn’t be surprised by forgiveness because I should see it every day. However, how often do you hear of stories on the news or wherever about division? I bet you hear about them a lot more than you hear about people coming together and forgiving each other.

Eph 4:31  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Eph 4:32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

We should all forgive each other rather than hold in bitterness and wrath. Forgiveness is much harder to accomplish, and it isn’t half as natural, but that is what we are commanded to do.

Therefore, I probably shouldn’t be surprised when I see a story about forgiveness in the Bible. I shouldn’t be surprised because that should be common at our point in history as well. Sadly, many people today feel like it is better to hold grudges than it is to forgive.

Genesis 32: We All like a Little Bit of Reassurance Now and Then

Jacob spent a lot of his life being afraid. This time, he was returning to his homeland, and he was afraid that his brother Esau would still be upset with him over all of his antics during their youth.

He prayed a pretty intense prayer expressing his seeming terror to God.

Gen 32:9  And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:

Gen 32:10  I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.

Gen 32:11  Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.

Gen 32:12  And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

He was basically emphasizing the fact that God had told him to return home, and God had also promised to make a great nation out of him. He didn’t necessarily say this, but I think that his underlying purpose through this prayer was essentially saying that he needed to live to see all of this happen, and that wouldn’t work so well if Esau killed him.

However, an interesting thing happened next.

Gen 32:24  And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

Gen 32:25  And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

Gen 32:26  And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

Gen 32:27  And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

Gen 32:28  And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

Gen 32:29  And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

Jacob wrestled with a mysterious man. He knew that this wasn’t just an ordinary man. After all, how many people do you know who wrestle with people and then demand a blessing?

That blessing reaffirmed everything that Jacob was worried about. In verse 28, we hear about him already prevailing.

Sometimes, we just need that reassurance. We might be worried, but God comes along and leads us to a Bible verse or another person that says exactly what we need to hear.

Jacob needed to hear that everything was going to be all right and receive a blessing, and God was there. God will be there for us as well.

Genesis 28: We Won’t Be Running Alone

Genesis chapter 28 is home to one of the more in-depth visions in the entire Bible.

Jacob was running away from Esau because Esau had threatened to kill him. So, one night he went to sleep, and he saw a pretty incredible vision.

Gen 28:11  And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.

Gen 28:12  And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

Gen 28:13  And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

Gen 28:14  And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Gen 28:15  And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

Gen 28:16  And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.

Gen 28:17  And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

It must have been pretty incredible to see a giant ladder extending from heaven all the way to Earth. On top of that, angels were going up and down, and God spoke to Jacob. He reaffirmed all the promises that he had told Abraham and Isaac concerning numerous descendents.

Again, I think that this kind of thing happens to us, but I don’t think dreams always come with it.

Sometimes, we may be running away from something terrible. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a deadly thing, but there are plenty of bad things that we try to run away from or avoid.

However, while we’re in the process of running, God reaches out to us and shows us that He is still in this place even if we don’t know it.

Mat 28:20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Jesus promised to be with us always, and always is not a conditional word.

It is interesting that we may be running somewhere to escape something, but we definitely will not be running alone.

Genesis 27: Hatred Is Not the Answer

Genesis chapter 27 is a giant web of deception.

You have probably heard the story before, but Rebekah heard Isaac call Esau and tell him that he was going to give him a blessing after he made his favorite meal.

While Esau went out to get the game, Rebekah had Jacob deceive Isaac and receive the blessing instead.

Of course, Esau was understandably upset. How many of us enjoy it when people sneak in and take away what we think is rightfully ours?

However, Esau was not exactly innocent in this situation either. While he couldn’t control what Jacob did, he should have controlled his reaction better.

Gen 27:41  And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.

No matter how many things we have to go through because of actions of others, we should never turn to hatred as a respectable response. Jesus himself had pretty strong words about how we should treat those who might not treat us right.

Luk 6:27  But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,

Luk 6:28  Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

Luk 6:29  And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.

Notice, Jesus says that people might hate you, but that doesn’t mean that that gives you the same right to hate them. In fact, you even need to pray for them who use you.

That is hard to do. I know that all of us have been wronged in our lives, and I think that our first reaction is often to get revenge. However, we aren’t even supposed to do that.

Rom 12:19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

We aren’t supposed to hate, we aren’t supposed to get vengeance and on top of that we are supposed to bless and pray for those who do bad to us.

That is not what you learn from the world. The world will tell you that if someone messes with you, you have every right to mess with that person.

However, I hope that we can all learn to move to react less like Esau and more like Jesus. Jesus had a ton of atrocious things done to Him as He was being crucified, but His only reaction was one of kindness.

Luk 23:34  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

It would be amazing if we all could react like that when people mistreat us.

Genesis 25: Two Different Pictures of Brotherhood

Genesis chapter 25 shows something very interesting when you look at different family relationships.

On one hand, you will recall from previous chapters that Abraham had to send Ishmael away. Although we don’t know that for sure, I would imagine that Ishmael would have been a little bit jealous of Isaac.

After all, he would not have been sent away if Isaac did not exist.

However, when Abraham died, we find Ishmael back on the scene to help bury his father along with Isaac.

Gen 25:8  Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.

Gen 25:9  And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;

Gen 25:10  The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.

Of course, it isn’t healthy to speculate too far, but that obviously was not angry enough at his father for sending him away to not come pay his final respects. He also wasn’t mad enough Isaac to avoid him altogether.

Later, we see a slightly different relationship developing.

Even while they were still within Rebekah, Jacob and Esau were already fighting with each other.

Gen 25:22  And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.

Gen 25:23  And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

Obviously, Isaac and Ishmael had plenty of reasons to disagree, but they seem to have gotten along somewhat well. On the other hand, we have Jacob and Esau who couldn’t even wait until they were born to start fighting.

I know that in both of these cases, we are talking about literal brothers, but let me expand a little bit too spiritual brother and sisterhood in Christ.

It is no secret that Christianity has suffered from enough division over the years, but that is not how it should be.

Php 2:5  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

There should not be all of this conflict because if we all thought like Jesus did, it would be perfect. Unfortunately, since we are human, it is impossible to be exactly like Jesus.

Nevertheless, this is what we should strive for. We need to treat our Christian family as well as everyone else we meet with respect and love.

Mat 22:37  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Mat 22:38  This is the first and great commandment.

Mat 22:39  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Mat 22:40  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Literal and spiritual sister and brotherhood are incredibly important relationships, and in Genesis 25, we see two examples of how they may play out.

Ishmael and Isaac may not have had the best of relationships or they very well might have had a great relationship, but the important point here is that when they needed to come together to respect their father, they were respectful and did what they should have done. They put aside personal differences to do what God would want them to do.