Tag Archives: jacob and esau

Breaking Free

If you’ve interacted with people in your life, you’ve been hurt by someone at some point. The people closest to us seem to hurt us the most. When we get hurt, the easiest thing to do is let that pain turn into hate and bitterness. We want to hurt them back worse than they hurt us. If we’re not careful, the pain inside of us can consume us. I read a story this week of a 73 year old who found a high school classmate and killed him because of how he hurt him over 50 years ago. He lived his whole life wanting revenge for the pain this person caused him.

In Genesis, Abraham’s son Isaac had twins, Jacob and Esau. Esau was very hungry one day and Jacob had prepared a meal. He asked for some of it, but Jacob made him pay for it with the birthright which meant he would inherit his father’s wealth. Later, when Isaac was about to die, he summoned his firstborn Esau to bless him. He sent him out to kill something wild and cook it first. Jacob found out, and beat him to it. Esau hated Jacob for it and wanted to kill him. He let the anger consume him and the only way to console himself was to plot revenge.

In Genesis 27:40, Isaac told Esau, “You shall live by your sword, And serve your brother; However it shall come to pass when you break loose [from your anger and hatred], That you will tear his yoke off your neck [and you will be free of him]” (AMP). If you’re still carrying the pain from someone hurting you, it’s time to break loose from it. Get their yoke off your neck. Forgiving them is the way to do that. Ask the Lord to help you. I know personally this is easier said than done. It’s a process that starts with you forgiving in your heart first. The pain will go away and a scar will remain, but you will be free.

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Panic Prayer

Sometimes when I get into a situation that doesn’t look like anything like what God promised, I panic. I then pray and remind God what He told me. “God, you said that if I did this, then you would do that. So why am I in this situation? Where are you? Why aren’t you being true to your promise?” Have you ever prayed a panic prayer like that? You heard God, did what He said, and the results weren’t what you expected.

When that happens, we trend to freak out a bit. We hear God and then our imagination creates what the outcome should look like. When it doesn’t turn out that way, we ask God why He isn’t holding up His end of the bargain. We think our obedience should be rewarded. We even think our act of faith should be broadcast to all of creation, but we end up in a situation that requires more faith.

Jacob was in this same boat in Genesis 32. God told him to return to the land of his father Isaac. On the way, he sent servants to his brother, whom he had double crossed, to tell him that he was coming. The servants came back with the news that his brother was coming and that he had 400 men with him. Jacob’s mind went to work. He thought of the worst possible scenario. In verses 11 and 12 he prayed, “Save me, please, from the violence of my brother, my angry brother! I’m afraid he’ll come and attack us all, me, the mothers and the children. You yourself said, ‘I will treat you well; I’ll make your descendants like the sands of the sea, far too many to count’” (MSG).

He didn’t know if his brother was still angry 20 years later. He didn’t know if his brother was coming to kill all of them. He saw a small piece of the puzzle, made assumptions, panicked, and prayed. He’s not that different than we are. He saw a situation snd thought of the worst outcome. He didn’t trust God, so he reminded God of what He had said. I wonder how that makes God feel. I wonder if He does a face palm with some of our panic prayers and says, “Will you just trust me?”

It’s one thing to pray a promise of God so you can build your faith and another to use it to remind God in case He forgot. Jacobs situation wasn’t anything like what he had imagined. In fact, his brother was coming to bless him. The same is true of our situations. If God has promised you something, and you’ve acted in faith, don’t look at the circumstances. Trust God to do what He said He will do. There’s no need to panic pray. God keeps His promises and is true to His word.

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Esau’s Hidden Blessing

Genesis 27 contains a story many of us are familiar with. It’s where Jacob steals Esau’s blessing. I remember hearing this story as a child and wondering why Isaac couldn’t give Esau a blessing too. To tell the truth, I still don’t understand why he couldn’t do something. In verse 38, Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me too!” Isaac began to tell him what all he had given to his brother. I’m sure each blessing was a dagger to the heart since they were meant for him.

Isaac then spoke the opposite of the blessing of Jacob to Esau. He told him that he would live far away from the riches of the earth and away from Heaven’s dew. He told him he would live by the sword and would serve his brother. The way he ended it was curious to me though. He said, “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” To me, that was a blessing hidden in there. He would only serve his brother until he decided not to. I think that his anger was so blinding that he missed it though.

Instead of breaking free, he allowed anger to rule his life and his decisions. He started doing the opposite of what he had been taught. In fact, he went out and married a woman from Canaan because he knew his father didn’t like them. When we are hurt by someone, all we want to do is hurt them back. We say things and do things that we think will stick it to them the way they stuck it to us. Esau was no exception. He decided to let anger rule his decision making and ultimately his way of life.

When we live like that, we are letting the other person rule us. We quit making decisions based on our good and instead make them on what we think will do the most harm. We quit trying to find ways to help ourselves advance and only find ways to make them retreat. We put ourselves in a prison, lock the doors and throw away the keys. I understand that even less than why Isaac couldn’t bless Esau too. I’ve been angry and hurt enough to want to act that way, but not to the point where it controlled every decision for a long period of time. I didn’t want to give anyone that kind of power over me.

If you’re in that position now, the blessing given to Esau is a blessing for you. “When you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” The choice is yours to let it go. Quit wondering if they ever regret doing that to you. Quit wishing their life was horrible. Stop getting excited when you hear about bad things that happen to them. Those thoughts keep you locked in prison. Decide to let it go. I know that easier said than done. I’ve had to do it myself. The only way you break free from that life is to let go. When you do, the yoke will fall off and your life will begin to have a greater purpose. Your life will flourish again.

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Face To Face With Your Past

What happens when your past catches up to you? How do you handle facing the music? Our past mistakes have consequences that we wish we didn’t have to face, especially when we’ve learned our lesson. Jacob, in Genesis 32, was about to come face to face with his past. He was about to meet his twin brother whom he had cheated and knew that the time had come to quit running. He was afraid, paranoid and stressed out. He tried to think of every solution he could to minimize the price he’d have to pay.

Since they were born, he had cheated his brother. In fact, his mom named him Jacob which meant supplanter. thefreedictionary.com defines supplanter as, “One who wrongfully or illegally seizes and holds the place of another.” He lived up to that definition and now he had to face the music. He sent gifts ahead to his brother whom he would meet the next day. He separated all his belongings in case his brother attacked. That way one group would survive. He separated his kids and his wives. But that night, he spent alone because he wanted to beg God for mercy.

He stayed on the opposite side of the Jabbok River from his family. Jabbok interestingly means, “emptying”. I believe that night he emptied himself of all his past sins and begged God for forgiveness and for mercy. While he was praying, an angel met him and they began to wrestle. They wrestled all night long until the morning’s first light. When the angel realized that he couldn’t beat Jacob, he popped his hip out of socket. Jacob still didn’t give up. He knew what would happen if he did. The angel asked to be released and Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you declare a blessing on me.”

The angel asked for his name. He replied, “Jacob [supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler]!” He told the angel not only his name, but how he had lived up to that name. He had let his name and his past define him. The angel’s blessing was that he would no longer be defined by a past that tricked people. He would now be called Israel [contender with God]. The angel said, “For you have contended and have power with God and with men and have prevailed.” He went from being a deceiver to a person of confidence and strength. He went from a person who hid from his past to a person who had God’s attention.

I asked in the beginning of this devotion what happens when your past catches up to you. For Jacob, it was the start of a new life. He no longer wanted to be the man he was or to be defined by the things he had done. He wanted a fresh start, a clean slate. He emptied himself of everything he had been and God filled him with who He wanted him to be. Today, if your past is haunting you or looming over you, empty yourself of the person who caused all of that. Ask God to bless you and to change who you are. When He does, your future will change too. You will be defined by who God says you are.

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