The Yoke of Unforgiveness

 

In the feud between Jacob and Esau God demonstrates to us the necessity and importance of forgiveness.Esau and Jacob were rival twins.Esau was the elder and Jacob the younger.Since Esau was the firstborn then the generational birthright was his and he was to receive the primary blessing through his father Isaac (1 Chronicles 5:1-3).This was the way it was supposed to be.But anyone who knows the book of Genesis knows that Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup and then when it came time for the blessing, Jacob with subtlety stole Esauís blessing.

 

Genesis 27: 36

 

And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob?For he hath supplanted me these two times:he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessingÖ

 

Genesis 27: 41-42

 

And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee.

 

Esau hated Jacob for stealing his blessing and he purposed in his heart to kill Jacob after the death of their father.

 

I have decided not to describe the situations of these brothers or their life stories.If you want greater insight into their lives please read (Genesis 25:20 Ė 33:20).This interpretationís purpose is to focus on the importance of forgiveness which is actually highlighted within the context of the blessing.This is why I am focusing basically on the blessing and its scriptural surroundings.With that being said, letís first take a look at each of the blessings wherewith Isaac blessed his two sons.††††

 

Here is the blessing wherewith Isaac blessed Jacob:

 

Genesis 27: 27-29

 

And he came near and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed:Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be Lord over thy brethren, and let thy motherís sons bow down to thee: cursed be everyone that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

 

Jacob became greatly blessed because of this blessing.This was the utopia of blessings.Now that this blessing rested upon Jacobís shoulders, there was really nothing Esau could do.

 

Here is the blessing wherewith Esau is blessed of Jacob:

 

Genesis: 27: 38-40

 

And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father?Bless me, even me also, O my father.And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven above; and by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.

 

Here it was clearly stated that Esau was to be Jacobís servant, even though it was supposed to be the other way around.This infuriated Esau and kindled his desire to kill his brother.

 

After these blessings took place Jacob left to sojourn in the Land of Canaan and Esau went to the land of Seir.God indeed greatly blessed Jacob in Canaan and he became two bands.One band from his wife Rachel and the other from his wife Leah.In the land of Canaan Jacobís life was difficult but protected.After 20 years away from home he decided to leave and venture back into his fathers land.Jacob knew he would have to cross the land of Edom where his brother Esau had settled.This frightened Jacob because he still feared his brother (Genesis 32:11).Jacob made a plan; he prepared himself for the worst by sending messengers to his brother Esau asking him for mercy.By Jacob doing this he immediately showed Esau his brother that Esau indeed had the dominion over him.

 

Genesis 32: 6-7

 

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;†††

 

Esau gave the messengers of Jacob no message.Esau simply gathered four hundred of his men to come and meet Jacob.This made Jacob fear the worst so he prepared various gifts to go in front of him to appease his brother Esau and try and calm him down.It is vital to understand that even though the primary blessing rests on Jacob, it is Jacob that is submissive and frightened and Esau who has the authority or dominion.

 

Genesis 33: 1-11

 

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 the 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 woman 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 with 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.

 

What can we draw from this scripture?It takes us back to the blessing wherewith Esau was blessed of Isaac.The blessing states:

 

Genesis: 27: 38-40

 

And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father?Bless me, even me also, O my father.And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven above; and by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.

 

His yoke symbolizes Jacobís wrong of stealing Esauís blessing but it also symbolizes Esauís unforgivness toward that wrong.As long as unforgivness existed then Jacobís yoke would remain on Esauís neck.Notice as soon as Esau had the dominion and authority over his brother Jacob, he forgave him and by doing this he broke Jacobís yoke of wrong (unforgivness) off his own neck.

 

Another important aspect is to understand that when God allowed the blessing to come through Isaac to Esau that God knew Esau was going to become bitter and upset, so God allowed the prophecy of the latter end forgiveness to be the focus of the blessing.The blessing was really about Esau eventually forgiving his brother and thus becoming free.That was the blessing.God had mercy on Esau because He allowed Esau to have the dominion.I am sure if Jacob came to Esau with pomp then it would have been very difficult for Esau to forgive his brother.When Jacob came to Esau softly (Genesis 33:14) then it opened the door for forgiveness in Esauís heart.

 

I believe this small example of scripture is important because the blessings of God, especially in the Old Testament, were symbolic.For a father to place his hands on his son and speak blessing over him was not only special, it was prophetic.Jacob was blessed and the blessing wherewith Isaac blesses him cannot be misunderstood.But the blessings of Esau are not about substance or provision but about spiritual forgiveness, because this is exactly what was of primary importance in the life of Esau.God was going to bless the world through the lineage of Jacob; therefore Godís blessing of provision was of primary importance.But with Esau, what was important was that a bitter and upset brother learn the character-building lesson of forgiveness.God always focuses, even to the utmost, on what we need to learn individually.Because of Esauís hatred and rage against his brother, God ordained one lesson that was far more important than any kind of physical blessing, the lesson of forgiveness.††††