Forgiving or Forsaking - Pt. 2
It's morning, and your alarm is crying out relentlessly that it is time to get up. If you are like me, you stumble through your house, and somehow make it to the shower, finally coming to consciousness. Coffee in hand, you sit down at the table, and open your Bible. As your eyes close, you begin to talk with the Lord, and there it is...again...the still small voice of the Holy Spirit reminding you of someone who you are not right with. Someone, guilty or not, whom you know feels they have been wronged by you in some way or another. You are now left with a choice...
Last week we began to ponder the teaching of the Jesus Christ concerning forgiveness. The first perspective we will look at in this series is that of the one who is perceived to be in the wrong. In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus gives us a similar scenario as the one we began above. A worshiper comes to the altar, bringing their offering, but is reminded of someone they have slighted in one way or another. Jesus gives a twofold instruction, empowered by an underlying factor: To move with urgency and humility, as you are moved by spirituality.
If anyone understood these components of seeking forgiveness, it would be Jacob. Jacob had stolen his brother's blessing and inheritance from their father Isaac, in Genesis chapter twenty-seven. He had been on the run for some time, living with his father-in-law for at least fourteen years, but in Genesis chapter thirty-two he is now returning home at the direction of God. Notice, he did not hear the conviction of God, and then dismiss it as a passing moment of guilt. Rather, he was commanded to return to his home and family by God, and thus obeyed without hesitation. Someone once wisely encouraged me to, "submit to every impulse of the Holy Spirit of God." When God the Spirit speaks, we need to be ready to obey immediately. (ex. Acts 16:10)
As he journeys, he learns that his brother Esau, is coming to meet him with four hundred men, and Jacob fears that that his now enlarged family will assuredly be slaughtered in retaliation for his deceptive action. His response in this moment is noteworthy:
"and Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me I pray thee, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children." (emphasis mine)
As Jacob moved forward with urgency, he also moved with humility. Too many of those who have done wrong, or been perceived to have been wrong, throw themselves into a cataclysmic cycle of self-justification. This is a surefire way to upset any growth spiritually, and worse, to hinder our walk with the Lord. Which is where the the underlying factor comes into play. James puts it this way:
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." - James 4:7-10
You can mark it down, we CAN NOT be urgently obedient, or respond in humility if we are not burdened to be filled spiritually; and I cannot be filled spiritually if I do not maintain a deep, fruitful walk with God. Part of nurturing this walk is being willing to admit when I am wrong. Being willing to humble myself, and seek the restoration of my relationships. Jacob realized that it was God that would give him favor with Esau. It was't because it was fair, or nice, for Esau to forgive him that moved Jacob to obey, but because he trusted that when God said to return, God would be with him.
So remember the challenge last week? Who has God laid on your heart that you need to get right with? As we left off in the introduction, you have a decision to make. Will you dismiss the Lord, and be satisfied with a counterfeit walk with God, or will you listen to His voice, and let Him restore your relationships? Although I cannot promise they will forgive you, I can promise that God will walk with you though the outcome. As for Jacob and Esau, well, you will find the results of Jacob's spiritually urgent and humble obedience below.
- Pastor Knight
Today's Scripture Reading:
Genesis 32-33 KJV
[32:1] And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.  And when Jacob saw them, he said, This [is] God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.  And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.  And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:  And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.  And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.  Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that [was] with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands;  And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.  And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:  I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.  Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, [and] the mother with the children.  And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.  And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to his hand a present for Esau his brother;  Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams,  Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.  And he delivered [them] into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove.  And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose [art] thou? and whither goest thou? and whose [are] these before thee?  Then thou shalt say, [They be] thy servant Jacob's; it [is] a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he [is] behind us.  And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him.  And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob [is] behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me.  So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in the company.  And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.  And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.  And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.  And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.  And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.  And he said unto him, What [is] thy name? And he said, Jacob.  And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.  And Jacob asked [him], and said, Tell [me], I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore [is] it [that] thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.  And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.  And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.  Therefore the children of Israel eat not [of] the sinew which shrank, which [is] upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank. [33:1] And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.  And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.  And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.  And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.  And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who [are] those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.  Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves.  And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.  And he said, What [meanest] thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, [These are] to find grace in the sight of my lord.  And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.  And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.  Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took [it].  And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee.  And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children [are] tender, and the flocks and herds with young [are] with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.  Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.  And Esau said, Let me now leave with thee [some] of the folk that [are] with me. And he said, What needeth it? let me find grace in the sight of my lord.  So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir.  And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.  And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which [is] in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.  And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money.  And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel.