“41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’42 When Rebekah was told what her elder son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, ‘Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?’” NIV
‘’Esau held a grudge against Jacob…Your brother Esau is consoling himself with the thought of killing you’’ (41a,42b).
In his excellent book ‘Better decisions, fewer regrets’, Andy Stanley writes about Joseph finally meeting up with the brothers who had done him so much harm. (Joseph is a man we will encounter later on in the book of Genesis). It had been years since he had last seen his cruel brothers. By this time, Joseph was the second most powerful man in Egypt and they were at his mercy:
‘They were terrified because they assumed Joseph would decide unto them as they had decided unto him. Joseph had decided years earlier to live a story worth telling. He had been deciding a good story for thirteen years. He wasn’t going to ruin it now with a revenge chapter…Revenge stories? There are plenty of those. It’s what we expect. It’s when we decide against the grain that we decide a story worth repeating’. (Pages 83,84).
Well, that’s to come some chapters from now. But in this chapter, a red hot revenge story is bubbling away. Rebekah knew it, so she hatched a plan to get her boy Jacob out of the way ‘’for a while’’ (44). He would actually be away for more than 20 years and she would never see him again.
Selwyn Hughes was a well-known Christian leader from just a few decades ago. He was a popular speaker and writer, and his daily devotional, ‘Every day with Jesus’ was read by large numbers of Christians. In one edition, he told a story about a man who was injured by someone, and from that point on this man could not let the grievance go. He nursed it. Eventually, he became ill. In fact, he was so unwell he had to take to his bed, and he eventually died. Selwyn said that the man’s doctor told him, ‘You couldn’t put it on the death certificate, but he died of an undrained grudge!’
PRAYER: Lord, even if I should be treated badly or unfairly, help me to always ‘take the high road’. Enable me to follow the Jesus way of mercy and forgiveness. May no thought of vengeance ever capture my heart.