Most of us have erected walls of hostility at some point in our lives and have kept others at a distance. We may have erected those walls to keep family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or church members at a distance. Some of us may still have walls of hostility against some people. For many years, Esau and Jacob had a wall of hostility between them, but there came a time that they had to deal with it and tear down the wall.
So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” And the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said to him, “Surely your brother Esau comforts himself concerning you by intending to kill you. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice: arise, flee to my brother Laban in Haran. And stay with him a few days, until your brother’s fury turns away, until your brother’s anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereaved also of you both in one day?” Genesis 27:41-45
Jacob cheated his brother out of his rightful inheritance, and Esau was furious to the point of wanting to kill his brother. So Rebecca, their mother, advised Jacob to flee and go to his uncle’s house for a few days. However, the few days turned to several years. Jacob served his uncle, Laban, for many years, and during that time, he married his two daughters and had many children with them. Jacob’s deception erected a wall of hostility between him and his brother, and it cost him years of being away from those he loved.
People have conflicts with others, and many get hurt by it. Walls of hostility produce no good fruit. Regardless of who was right and who was wrong, the hostility between people impacts many lives. When a person is hurt, they may only think about the impact of others’ bad choices on them. But they have a tendency not to look at the broader picture and how other people are affected by this conflict as well.
One of the ways that the Lord brings awareness in our lives is when we see division among our loved ones. Their division hurts us, and it can impact the whole family. The Lord used these kinds of situations to remind us of how He feels when we have a wall of separation between us and His other children.
But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, “Who are these with you?”
So he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the maidservants came near, they and their children, and bowed down. And Leah also came near with her children, and they bowed down. Afterward Joseph and Rachel came near, and they bowed down. Then Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company which I met?” And he said, “These are to find favor in the sight of my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” And Jacob said, “No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me. Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” So he urged him, and he took it. Genesis 33:4-11
The story of Esau and Jacob has a heartwarming end. The Lord directed Jacob to go back home. It took faith and obedience on the part of Jacob to take those steps. The one who thought he could outsmart his brother now he called Esau, “my lord” and he calls himself “your servant.” That was truly a change of heart and a humble posture for Jacob. Jacob’s main focus was success and inheritance, now he realized that reconciliation with his brother was far more important than holding on to his wealth. At the same time, Esau had a change of heart as well. He also had amassed his own wealth and did not have a need for his brother’s retribution.
When Esau saw his brother, he kissed him. This is the same man that several years ago thought of killing his brother. Life had given him a new perspective. He had lost a relationship with his only brother for years. Life wasn’t the same without him. Even though Jacob was still alive, but the lack of relationship was just as if he was dead. All these years, the two brothers had not been involved in each others’ lives and celebrations. There was always an empty seat for Jacob at his parents’ table. They didn’t know each other’s children and now those children had grown up not knowing their uncles nor their cousins.
It is sad to see people having a wall of hostility around them. It is as if they are walking imprisoned with their own thoughts about a person or a group. The Lord by His loving-kindness shows us that just as how we feel about other people’s wall of hostility, He also do not want us to live our lives with a wall of hostility around us.
We miss so much in each others’ lives when we choose to hold a grudge and keep a wall of hostility. To me, the story of Esau and Jacob is a story of how our response would be in eternity. All of our offenses are going to pale in comparison to the glory of God and the fact that we get to be with the Lord. If we could keep that perspective, many issues in this life and much of people’s offensive behavior would not matter that much. The Lord has a way of changing our hearts. It is time to tear down the walls in Jesus’ name!