Formations Lesson for August 22- Reconciliation
August 10 2010 by Don Gordon, senior pastor, Yates Baptist Church, Durham

Focal Passage: Gen. 32:3-32  

Today’s lesson from the drama of Jacob-Esau reveals the power of God to effect reconciliation. Jacob, having cheated his brother, conned his father, and used his mother finds himself alone in the wilderness exiled from family and home.

At Bethel (31:13) God told Jacob to return home. This meant returning to the place dominated by his brother Esau. Jacob is justifiably scared about meeting with this big, hairy brother who now has 400 men to back him up (32:6). Ever the wheeler-dealer, Jacob sends livestock ahead as a bribe (32:13-21). He also prays to God seeking safety and reminding God of his promises of blessing (32:9-12).

The night before the dramatic encounter Jacob wrestles with a mysterious man (with God?) until daybreak. Jacob prevails, but never ascertains who his opponent is.

Theories abound. Was it God himself suggested by Jacob’s new name Israel, which means “he who wrestles with God”?

Was it Esau, who has snuck into Jacob’s camp under the cloak of darkness to deal with his brother man to man, suggested by Jacob’s words to Esau the next day “To see your face is like seeing the face of God” (33:10)?

Or was Jacob intensely wrestling with himself, and all the demons and angels vying for preeminence in his soul? I favor the first option.

Not only is Jacob given a new name, and consequently a new identity, the text casually informs us that Jacob walked away with a limp. The Hebrew tense of the verb implies he limped the rest of his life.

This was not a one-night stand with a religious emotion. This was a life-changing event initiated and consummated by Almighty God.

Reconciliation is hard work and like Jacob we run from it. It almost always requires a change on our part.

Most of us have become quite comfortable with our sins and the barriers we have erected against others. But Jesus knew we couldn’t truly worship God and be in right relationship with God if we remain estranged from our brother. He said, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:23-24).

Are you running from anyone? Avoiding them because of past sins, slights, misunderstandings?

If you want to be right with God you’ve got to get right with your brother, your sister, your mother, your fellow church member. Don’t expect to worship well if you’re not reconciled to one another.  
8/10/2010 9:09:00 AM by Don Gordon, senior pastor, Yates Baptist Church, Durham | with 0 comments

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