Jacob wrestles with God and then meets up with his brother, Esau, for the first time since Esau vowed to kill him (Genesis 32:22-33:17).
Jacob tricked his brother, Esau, out of his father’s blessing. Trust me, that was a big deal back then! Esau intends to kill him after their father, Isaac, dies. Jacob runs away, gets married, has lots of children, and decides to return home.
One night on the journey home, Jacob has a strange experience. Maybe he’s dreaming, but it didn’t seem like it. A man come to him in his sleep and wrestles with him. As dawn comes, the man tells Jacob to let him go. Jacob refuses and asks the man for a blessing. The man changes Jacob’s name to Israel, which means, “You have fought with God and won.” Then the man blesses him but not until after pulling his hip out of joint.
Jacob realizes this is no man and says, “I have seen the face of God and lived.” Jacob truly did fight with God and win. He leaves that place with a limp because of his hip and, of course, a blessing. On the journey home, Jacob meets Esau.
Jacob has sent servants with presents ahead of him to soften Esau up. He has separated his people and flocks so that if Esau attacks one group, Jacob will still have the other. He is prepared to meet his angry brother, who has threatened to murder him.
When Jacob finally meets his brother, Esau throws his arms around him and kisses him. Esau forgives him—immediately and without question! Jacob is astounded and says, “To see your face is to see the face of God!” To be forgiven by someone is like seeing God!
Forgiveness is a gift God gives us that reopens the connection between one person and another and between a person and God. Jacob isn’t the only one who saw God that day. Through his act of forgiveness, Esau saw God as well.