Family reunions can be tense times for some people. Two family members had a falling out years ago, and you could never have them in the same room together without some kind of problem. The tension runs thick when the family gets together and sometimes, people almost hope for the explosion to happen so they can get it out of the way and enjoy the family time. We don’t always know how these feuds start, but reconciliation is a rare occurrence.
To say that Jacob had wronged Esau would be putting it mildly. He had taken advantage of Esau to gain his birthright. When their father was dying, Jacob found a way to steal Esau’s blessing, with mom’s help. Dad favored Esau, mom favored Jacob, and Jacob won out. The problem was, Jacob had to leave town quickly to protect his life. He traveled to his ancestral homeland, ended up being tricked himself and married two sisters which caused an interesting family situation. After many years of service, he had a large family, was prosperous, and he and his father-in-law started having issues. Jacob decided to go home. Knowing that he would have to face Esau, he took the bull by the horns and sent messengers to let Esau know that he was coming. “When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, ‘We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.’” (Genesis 32:6)
Jacob was worried now. Laban was behind him and Esau was in front of him, and it sounded like Esau was ready to get revenge. Jacob made preparations. He split his family, servants, and livestock into two groups, hoping that if Esau attacked one, he wouldn’t know about the other and one of them might survive. He prepared a gift to send to Esau. He sent herds of 5 different animals to Esau trying to bring peace. I don’t know much about the cost of animals today, but it would be safe to say that he was sending over $100,000 of gifts in today’s terms. Jacob didn’t even know if Esau would be pacified by these gifts, but he hoped and prayed for favor in Esau’s eyes. To make a long story short, Esau was a better man than Jacob had given him credit for being, and he embraced Jacob when they met.
What’s the cost of reconciliation? I guess it depends on the family and the situation. How much money would pacify a family member who was upset with another one? What changes in attitudes would need to happen so that the person who was wronged would be able to accept an apology? When we realize the high cost of reconciliation in families, perhaps the high cost God paid to bring us reconciliation with Him stands out even more. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. We, who wronged God, find that we cannot do anything to initiate reconciliation, but that God, in His mercy and grace, sought to reconcile us to Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Reconciliation is an amazing event. When families reconcile, there is joy and peace. When those who have been opposed to God reconcile with God, there is rejoicing in Heaven.
Lord, there are many families who are at odds with each other today. I pray that You would bring reconciliation and establish peace in those families. Even worse is the number of people who have not sought reconciliation with You. Show them Your grace and mercy. Let them know of their need to reconcile with You. Use me as one of your agents of reconciliation so that they may be drawn to You.