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Genesis 31-32
commentary
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Special thanks to guest commentator Greg Burnett, author of Greg Burnett Web Log.
His Bible commentary "Reunited" first appeared on the Today's Bible Commentary Blog for January 12, 2004 - covering Genesis 31-33.

Reunited

What a marvelous narrative we have in this scripture. Previously, God had given a promise to Jacob's grandfather Abraham that through His offspring all nations would be blessed. The effect of this covenant would be as far-reaching as could possibly be imagined, and this initial spark of God's redemptive purposes would ultimately burst into flame with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Until that time, however, God would develop a history with His people that reveals His glorious character and matchless splendor.

God's dealing with Jacob is a rich chapter in that timeline. It is both glaring with human shortcomings and outstanding with benefit that we can derive from this story. In Genesis chapter 33 we find Jacob preparing to re-enter His homeland. As a young man we can read that Jacob, a liar and a thief, had been manipulative and scheming - particularly in his taking His father's blessing which was intended for his brother Esau. Jacob had maneuvered both his brother and his father in order to receive the privileges that were properly bestowed upon the eldest son. Upon receiving this blessing Jacob fled his homeland and his raging brother Esau. He had thus for years lived apart from the inheritance he had hoped to acquire, but God showed Himself to be with Jacob in his sojourning. And eventually his heart turns toward home.

At this point in his life Jacob has come through significant personal transformation. Jacob feels sincere gratefulness for God's commitment that he has known, including the significant accumulation of property and the growth of his family. He pauses the night before he crosses the border, uncertain of what lies ahead as far as his brother's response is concerned. It is there that an epiphany occurs as He wrestles with an angelic manifestation of the Lord Himself. Peering into the face of God he is thunderstruck with realizing that it is God who has always had His way, and God who has been merciful and shown him kindness. The slightest gesture of this Person showed He had supreme power and strength, despite Jacob's best wrestling and all of his self-determination. And as he proceeds from that place Jacob has been broken physically, given a permanent limp to indicate the spiritual brokenness that has transpired with this exchange.

Jacob has poured out homage to his brother as the procession is made towards home. Property and deference are streamed towards Esau. And here we find one of the most subtle and rich descriptions of Eternal God when Esau runs to embrace his brother, kisses him and weeps. How is this a description of God? Note that Jacob is a few steps away from true theophany, an appearing of and self-disclosure by God. He had been wrestling with a heaven-sent Messenger: he could smell His breath, had heard His voice, had clenched Him with an intention to be blessed. As Jacob cries with finding Esau to be loving and reconciling, joyfully weeping and tightly embracing him, he now tells him "...to see your face is like seeing the face of God." Thus the testimony is written that Jacob, the night before, had seen in God this same response and these very traits that he finds in Esau's face.

Oh, to know Him as we are known by Him! Amen


Also see An Index Guide for the Shepherd's Sheep
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