Jacob & Esau: A Tale of Two Brothers

The big, hairy, red-skinned man threw his arms around the neck of his brother and wept. He hadn’t seen the man for over twenty years, and the emotions welled up within him and overflowed.

His brother was emotional, too. He was scared spitless! The last time the one had spoken to the other it had not been with loving words. In fact, Esau had promised to throttle Jacob at the first opportunity! Jacob was fully convinced Esau had meant it.

What a change in the attitudes of the two men! And Esau noticed another change almost at once.

“Whose are all these, brother?” Esau asked, motioning toward Jacob’s four wives, twelve kids, and large flocks. Jacob had done well!

Esau hadn’t done badly, either. The four hundred armed men accompanying his brother had not escaped Jacob’s notice! Esau, too, was a wealthy man.

But the changes in the two men went much deeper than their balance sheets. Some men would have cut Jacob’s throat. On sight. On site. And not without some real justification. Years before, Esau would have. And he’d have blessed any man who’d handed him a sharp knife for the task. But not now. He’d grown beyond that.

And Jacob? Here was a changed man indeed. When Esau had last seen Jacob, this moments-younger twin of his had been working hard to live down to his name. Jacob. The “supplanter.” The grabber. The lying, conniving cheat. Jacob had cheated his brother. He had coldly but effectively lied to his blind old father. He had not been much of a man.

But Jacob was no longer Jacob. Now he was Israel, a new man.

On the night before this meeting with his brother, Jacob had met a man who frightened him far more than Esau! He had met himself. As Jacob had wrestled with the angel of God, he had wrestled with himself. He’d been forced to decide whether or not a life lived without God’s blessing was worth living. He’d made his decision and held on to the angel who could have unmade him with a word. He’d taken the chance, for once, in an unrigged game. And he was blessed.

When he limped away from the battle, he was no longer Jacob the cheat. Now he was renamed by God himself—Israel, one who wrestles with God, and one who “prevails” and wins God’s blessing.

Few of us wrestle with angels, but we all wrestle with ourselves. In one way or another, we all come to the place where we are faced with the same decision Jacob faced.

Is God’s blessing the most important thing in our lives? Is having a relationship with him worth everything? Is it worth more than life itself?

No one can answer “Yes!” and remain unchanged.




Copyright 2012 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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