After wrestling with God all night, Jacob limps out to meet Esau. Instead of hatred and anger, Esau greets him with love and joy.
Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept.
Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked, “Who are these people with you?”
“These are the children God has graciously given to me, your servant,” Jacob replied. Then the servant wives came forward with their children and bowed before him. Next came Leah with her children, and they bowed before him. Finally, Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed before him.
“And what were all the flocks and herds I met as I came?” Esau asked.
Jacob replied, “They are a gift, my lord, to ensure your friendship.”
“My brother, I have plenty,” Esau answered. “Keep what you have for yourself.”
But Jacob insisted, “No, if I have found favor with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God! Please take this gift I have brought you, for God has been very gracious to me. I have more than enough.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau finally accepted the gift.
Why did Jacob send gifts ahead for Esau? In Bible times, gifts were given for several reasons. This may have been a bribe, an expression of affection, or the customary way of greeting someone before an important meeting. Such gifts were often related to a person’s occupation. This explains why Jacob sent sheep, goats, and cattle to Esau, who was a herdsman. In any case, Jacob was probably seeking Esau’s favor and good will.
Esau, who once had actually plotted Jacob’s death (Genesis 27:41), greeted his brother with a hug. Esau had forgiven Jacob. Time away from each other allowed the bitter wounds to heal. With the passing of time, each brother was able to see that their relationship was more important than their real estate.
Jacob must have been amazed to see Esau’s change of heart when the two brothers met again. We know how God changed Jacob, but he also must have been working on Esau’s heart. Esau was no longer bitter over losing his birthright and blessing; instead, he had forgiven his brother and was content with what he had.
Life can bring us some bad situations. We can feel cheated, as Esau did, but we don’t have to remain bitter. We can remove bitterness from our lives by honestly expressing our feelings to God, forgiving those who have wronged us, and being content with what we have. Who do you need to forgive? What glorious reunion could be in store?