“And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced his him and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept” (Genesis 33; 4).
One of the hardest things for us to do in our life is to ask someone for forgiveness and then receive it. It is hard for us because we are completely at the mercy of the other person. The situation and our emotions are heightened by the fact that we must admit that we were the one who was in the wrong; then we must wait for the verdict from the party we have injured. The anticipation of such an encounter can be maddening. In fact, it can be worse than the actual confrontation.
Such an encounter is what happens when Jacob and Esau met after a separation between them happened. When Jacob and Esau met after a separation of around twenty years. This was a separation that was caused by Jacob’s himself deceiving Isaac; which caused Esau to vow that he would kill Jacob. “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” (Genesis 27:41). For years Jacob had been carrying his guilt with him. It had probably played on his mind many times over the years. Those fears were not put aside when he sent messengers to Esau were coming to meet him with four hundred men.
Jacob expected the worst, so he divided his party into two groups. He then prayed and sent presents to Esau.
What changed Esau? What softened his heart? Was it the presents or the prayers? The answer is found in Genesis 33:8-9: “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.” Esau wanted nothing from his brother. Only his love and forgiveness could not be bought.
What made the difference in the situation was Jacob’s dependence on God. That is what we need to learn if we are even going to be able to receive forgiveness from others, instead of carrying our guilt around for years, we must seek God. Instead of trying to buy people off, we must pray.
Jacob showed us how we must come to God.
FIRST -He came humbly:
“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” (Genesis 32:10). He confessed his own unworthiness of all the blessings and mercy that had been bestowed on him by God. If we want to receive forgiveness, we must get rid of pride. God does not owe us anything. He is not controlled by our every whim. Failure to learn this will hinder us from receiving God blessing.
SECOND. Jacob came depending on God.
“Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, for the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children” (Genesis 32:11). Jacob acknowledged that he could not deliver himself. He still had some problem in his life and he tried to smooth then over the only way he knew was with presents. God showed Jacob (and us) that such steps are not necessary.
THIRD Jacob Based His Request On The Promises of God:
“And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me. Return unto thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: 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” (Genesis 32:9 & 12). He stood on the promises of God. As Bible Commentator George Bush declared, “He pleads the promises. He approaches as the God of his father, and as such a God in covenant. This was laying hold of the divine faithfulness. It was the prayer of faith.”
Here is the heart and soul of receiving forgiveness. It is found in who God is, what He has done, and what He has promised to do. It is standing firmly and confidently on God and His faithfulness. Holding God’s promises up before Him is not a rash action. It is the boldness He requires. Boldness He wants to see in His followers. This very argument is found in Hebrew 4:14-15. Here we are told that if we cling to and stand on what God has done for us in and through His Son, we can have confidence when we come to Him with our request.
Have you asked God for forgiveness and have you received it? If not, there is a problem there. God only accepts true repentance!