Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever. Obadiah 10 (NIV).
Esau forgave Jacob. Jacob had wronged Esau by taking Esau’s birthright (which Esau had, until then, held in very low regard). So Jacob fled and lived in trepidation of his older twin until the time when God led him back home. On his way there, Jacob and Esau were reunited in tears of forgiveness. Esau’s descendants, however, are another story.
Sort of like our political factions today, aren’t they? One group leaves leadership tomorrow; another returns. Will the incoming side use its recovered power to seek vengeance against its opponents? Will the outgoing hold a grudge? Will God still bless us?
Esau’s descendants did, and they paid a terrible price for it. Edom, their nation, held what is, today, the southern Lavant (south Israel and south Jordan). And because they were on a trade route between Asia and Africa (Egypt), Edom as a nation dissipated over the centuries after assisting in the overthrow of Israel. Some say that the Idumeans, mentioned by church father, Jerome, were the descendants of Esau and Edom. The Idumenans disappeared early in the first millennium of Christianity after their last ‘great’ (and ruthless) leader – Herod the Great – died and his descendants faded from history.
It’s almost as if God punished those who had revolted against His chosen people, and who had, personally, revolted against Him when He finally appeared as the Christ child. Is it any stretch of the imagination to think that the same fate couldn’t befall us?
It’s a shame, you know, that things turned out that way. After all, as we mentioned, Esau forgave Jacob. Perhaps he came to realize how shabbily had had taken for granted God’s promise to bless the descendants of Abraham and Issac. Perhaps he foresaw the violence that could result from generational grudges. Perhaps he missed his family. Either way, when Jacob returned from Laban, he dreaded meeting his older brother, who had sworn to kill him.
Yet that didn’t happen. Instead, Esau met Jacob on the journey and they wept in happiness. Forgiveness matters so much more than resentment.
How terrible it is when a people forget their history, forget that it is God who forgives us first so that we might learn to forgive each other. How much more terrible it would be for us, or any people, if God removed His hand of favor from our lives? As we stand on this day when transition is in motion, let’s remember who our true victor – and leader – is, and what happens to those who forsake Him.
For further reading: Genesis 27, Genesis 32-33, Obadiah 11
Lord Jesus, forgive our arrogance, forgive our sins. Teach us to forgive each other, to bear with each other in burdens; to learn from the past.
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