Bible Readings for February 1st
We shouldn’t be surprised to see Jacob falter in his confident faith when he sees Esau coming from far off, even though Jacob had only just finished wrestling with God (Gen. 33:1). Of course, it didn’t help Jacob’s fear to see Esau coming with four hundred men, but even so, Jacob continues his pattern of favoritism by dividing up his entire household, putting the servants and their children up at the front to meet Esau first, then Leah with her children next, then Rachel and Joseph last (Gen. 33:2). To his credit, Jacob goes ahead of everyone to meet his brother and to grovel before him.
If we aren’t surprised to see Jacob faltering in his faith, we should be surprised at Esau’s reaction. Jacob does not find a brother who has been nursing a grudge for the past twenty years, ready to exact his revenge on the trickster Jacob. Instead, Jacob discovers that his brother has forgiven him for everything he has done. Esau extends to Jacob extraordinary grace and mercy, and we read that “Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept” (Gen. 33:4).
It’s a touching scene of reunion, but the thing that is really fascinating about this description of the reunion is that Jesus borrows heavily from the details in his parable of the prodigal son. After the prodigal son had asked for his inheritance early—essentially telling his father that he cared more about his father’s money than his father’s life—the son squandered all of his money. When extreme poverty drives him to return to his father begging for forgiveness, we read that the prodigal son’s father does the exact same thing as Esau had done when he reunited with Jacob.
Here’s how Jesus tells the story: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). Jesus models the loving father of the prodigal son in his parable after the real-life loving response of Esau toward his prodigal brother, Jacob.
Again in this story, we see grace toward Jacob. We don’t see a man behaving with courage and bravery; in fact, Esau is the one who comes off really well in this story, not Jacob. Jacob is the prodigal, while Esau is the hero of this story.
And if Jacob needed extensive grace, how much more do we? Has the depth of your sin broken you to seek out grace like Jacob the prodigal brother, or are you still at a point where you are scheming and deceiving those around you to get by as Jacob did earlier in his life?
Is the gospel your hope as God’s prodigal son, or are you still seeking your own way apart from him?
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.