Pleasant Reunion

Genesis 33:1-11

1Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. 2He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. 3He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. 4But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.

5Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”

6Then the female servants and their children approached and bowed down. 7Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down.

8Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?”

“To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said. 9But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.”

10“No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably. 11Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.

Introduction

Christmas time is most often taken advantage of for family reunions, class reunion, or old-time friend’s reunion. It offers double celebration!

A group of high school students presented a skit about a family reunion. The purpose of their skit was to encourage students to pursue post-secondary studies as well as to value of family relations.

Imagine: One by one, the siblings arrived home to pay their homage to their parents. They became successful professionals except for the last sibling. When he arrived home, he was holding onto a bottle of beer. He was drank.

Everyone was silent. The drunkard recognized his siblings and praised their clean appearance appropriate for special a occasion-their family reunion. He sadly expressed his apology being an embarrassment to the family.

One of the siblings, a religious minister approached, embraced and assured to help him pursue a career of his choice. One by one, other siblings promised anything they can contribute. The skit ended as the family enjoyed the delicious dinner prepared by their parents.

I suppose, all of us love to have family reunion, right? Immigrants would go back to their country of origin, not just to attend family reunion, but also to attend high school class, or old friend’s reunion. Have you attended a reunion lately?

Jacob and his brother Esau had a pleasant reunion after 20-years of being away from each other. Did God enable Esau to forgive Jacob? Jacob did not forget Esau’s grudge against him but Esau has totally forgotten his plan to kill him. His embrace and kiss when they met speak of Esau’s homesickness.

1. Embrace

1Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his 400 men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. 2He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. 3He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. 4But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.

That was a pleasant reunion for Esau and Jacob. They embraced, kissed and wept as gesture of their brotherly affection when they see each other again. Esau must have observed far afar that Jacob was limping. And when he ran to meet Jacob, it suggests that there was no malicious plan in his mind.

But why did he bring 400 men to accompany him in the first place?

One reason Esau brought 400 men with him was to offer assistance for Jacob and his household. Perhaps, the men may have heard that Jacob married women from the relatives of his mother Rebekah. Rebekah was a very beautiful woman. So, Esau and the 400 men may have been eager to see Jacob’s family. They may have imagined that Jacob’s wives were beautiful like Rebekah.

Can you imagine the curiosity of people from the countryside when they hear someone who just arrived from abroad? They would invite themselves to see a “Balikbayan” or someone who just arrived from abroad. Curiosity may have been one reason the 400 men accompanied Esau when he met his brother.

But when Jacob heard from his messengers that Esau had 400 men with him, he thought of trouble, that Esau may still hold a grudge against him.

When you hear of possible trouble ahead of you, how do you normally react? When Jacob heard from his messenger about the multitude companions of Esau, he was alarmed. Fear revealed the true character and values of Jacob.

When Jacob divided his family by groups, his favoritism became more obvious. Zilpah and Bilhah, the servants of Leah and Rachel respectively, together with their children were the least of Jacob’s favorite. And apparently, Rachel and Joseph were most valuable to him. Yet, when Jacob went on ahead of his family to meet his brother Esau, it implies that everyone in his household was really important to him, and he cared much about them.

The 400 men who accompanied Esau may not know about Esau’s grudge against Jacob. All they saw was two affectionate brothers reunited after so many years being apart. Jacob’s family did not sense his fear of Esau. But Jacob’s fear of his brother motivated him prepared for worst situation that may happen.

It says in Proverbs 16:3, 3Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

And in Proverbs 19:21, 21Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

To commit to the Lord anything we wish to accomplish is to seek guidance. Previously, Jacob did not know that Esau has changed. He was scared that Esau brought trouble with the 400 men. His fear prompted him not to run away but to plan a pleasant reunion with his brother, and he selected the best gift for Esau.

It says in Romans 8:14-17, 14For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Each of us could be alarmed when the economy is not doing well, when we hear of report about terrorist, or even climate change. Many are scared of their deteriorating health, financial difficulties, or undesirable changes of weather.

We can learn from Jacob. Instead of running away from trouble, we need to seek God’s guidance. We need to pray that God our Father will enable us to completely trust Christ as our Lord always. Remember: We are God’s children.

It says in 1 Corinthians 1:20-25, 20Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

We all need God’s wisdom. We were given God’s wisdom when we accepted Christ into our hearts. But we can only access on God’s wisdom when we completely submit to Christ as Lord. The peace of God that surpasses understanding prevails in us in midst of trouble, uncertainty, or difficulties.

To submit to Christ as Lord is to give all our life, decisions, desire, fears and problems. It’s acceptable form of worship to esteem Christ as Lord.

2. Esteem

5Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.” 6Then the female servants and their children approached and bowed down. 7Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down.

When Jacob and his family to bow down to Esau, it could have been a cultural gesture of high esteem. Jacob’s family saw his example when he bowed down seven times before Esau. Evidently, they also have high regard of Jacob’s action, and they respectfully followed his respectful gesture of esteem to Esau.

What’s respectful gesture of esteem among Christians? Is it cultural thing?

How do you normally honor, respect or esteem the Lord? We honor Christ with our life, time, material possessions, including our dreams. We have nothing more valuable to give the Lord than our life and devotion to Him. Human effort falls short of God’s standards but we can ask God to help us revere Him always.

King David was not perfect but he prioritized God in everything he did. He encourages it in Psalm 22:23, 23You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

As king of Israel, he was highly esteemed not because of accomplishment but because of his love for the Lord. Despite of his imperfection, King David was willing to do whatever it takes to obey God, and God was also faithful to him.

We all have our own share of imperfection, which is why our human effort cannot measure up to the standards of the perfect God. Yet, when we received the Spirit of Christ into our lives, God showed the He wanted us to be perfect, not by our human effort but by the empowerment of the perfect Spirit of Christ.

We become holy and perfect before God by faith in Jesus and His sacrifice.

It says in Hebrews 10:14-17, 14For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. 15The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 16“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” 17Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”

The Lord does not remind the sins He has forgiven. He took all our sins and crucified them with Christ. The presence of Christ’s Spirit in us testifies that we are set apart, we become holy and perfect. How do we know that we are set apart, holy and perfect? We sense the joy of serving God. When God’s peace prevails in our heart, we cheerfully obey God. It’s wonderful experience!

Apostle Paul teaches about believers who are made perfect and holy in the eyes of our Master the Lord Jesus. He compared believers to articles found inside a house. He explained in 2 Timothy 2:20-21, 20In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Are you a believer intended for special purposes or just for common use? God may have given a desire in your heart but you may insist that you are not as gifted as others. Seek and ask fervently that the Lord will help you identify the spiritual gift He has given you. Keep asking to help you utilize that gift.

It says in 1 Corinthians 1:7-9, 7Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  9God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Christ our Master and Lord, He is the author of life. He knew exactly which gift is appropriate for each believer so that we don’t insist what we want to do. Instead, let your spiritual gift dictate the ministry God prepared us to be involved with. We sense joy and peace serving God, if we use our spiritual gift.

Why? It is God’s Spirit at work in us and not our imperfect human effort.

What could be the similarity of spiritual gift we receive from God and the selected gift of Jacob for his brother? God selected the perfect spiritual gift for us.

Jacob’s intention of selecting the best gift to his brother Esau was to reconcile with his brother. Similarly, when God selected the best spiritual gift for us, it shows that God wanted to reconcile with us. No! We don’t seek God. God sought us. We seek God because Christ’s Spirit regenerated us spiritually alive.

Yet sometimes, we are like Esau. We don’t readily accept that God has given us spiritual gifts. Esau was grateful but he told Jacob that he did not need any gift. Yet, when Jacob pleaded with Esau to receive the gift, he decisively expressed his desire to find favor in the eyes of Esau and to reconcile with him.

3. Express

8Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?”

“To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said. 9But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.” 10“No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably. 11Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.

Once again, Jacob displayed his persistence to do what was right. He planned and selected the best gift for his brother. Esau didn’t ask for gift. He refused it but Jacob knew that it’s the best expression of his desire to be reconciled with his brother. When Jacob knew it’s good, he insisted of doing it.

Doing what is right when we know it is right thing to do is obedience to the command of the Lord.  It says in James 4:17, 17If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Joke, Joke Joke!

Someone jokingly reasoned out, “That was why I don’t pay much attention to the sermon because I am afraid I might learn much about what good thing to do. Then, I will be compelled to do them. If I don’t do them, then, I sin.”

Well, such statement explains itself that the person knows that listening to messages is good but when he decided not to listen, he committed sin. And, when sin prevails in our heart, we’ve got no desire to listen to God’s message.

The Lord Jesus said in Luke 12:47-48, 47“The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

When we call Christ as Lord, does it not follow that we are His servants?

So, if we are the servant of our Master and Lord Jesus Christ, are we not supposed to be aware of our responsibility as servants of the Lord?

Services acceptable to God point us again to the use of our spiritual gift.

Countless churchgoers resist the idea of service. It’s not easily accepted. They may have compared it to services of servants to their master.

Truly, devoted service of slaves to their master is the manner of service that the Lord requires from us. Just as the servant do not insist on doing what he wanted to do but to gladly do what his master requires of him, we also serve God according to his will when we are empowered by the Spirit of Christ.

So, if we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, there’s no complaining, no discouragement, no frustration. Instead, we’ve got joy and peace to serve.

Jacob’s selected gift to Esau became the icing that added to their pleasant reunion to become much sweeter. Similarly, God gives each of us spiritual gift to have sweeter reconciliation with our Master and Lord.

This Christmas Season, you may be hoping to have joyful celebration.

Know that this world can only offer temporary merriment and amusement.

If you are sincere in looking and desiring for inexpressible joy, seek to serve the Lord with your spiritual gift.

It is when the Holy Spirit produces joy and peace in us that we can be cheerful no matter what circumstance we are in.

Family Reunion Actor

You might be curious of what happened to the high school students who performed in the family reunion stage play.

Actually, the student who performed the drunkard brother turned out to be just like his part in the play. He also became drunkard but sadly, he got no siblings ready to help him pursue a career for himself.

But, he came to know Christ personally. Christ is more than many brothers to him. He set his life to serve the Lord, and his life turned upside down. He currently shares his story, and teaches others to trust Christ and use their spiritual gift to maximize their experience of the grace of God.

One day, when a reunion with his classmates happens, he planned to share with them his story, most especially, his personal experience with Christ, and hopes that they may put their faith in Christ too.

Would you pray to share with your classmates, friends, or relatives your personal experience of joy in Christ? Pray that it would happen sooner.

><(((‘> … ><(((‘> tmec\2018 <‘)))>< … <‘)))><

 

 

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