By Tope Banso
“For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15. Amplified)
Hardly do believers make any positive reference to Esau in the Bible. It is always a negative reference. The Bible says Esau was a skilful hunter (Genesis 25:27). That’s in a way positive.
However, that attribute becomes irrelevant when we read that he sold his birthright to his younger brother, Jacob, for a plate of food. He despised his birthright just because he was hungry. But Jacob was hungry too. That didn’t portray Esau as a serious person (Genesis 26:29-34).
Another related negative reference to Esau is when his brother deceived his father to bless him as the firstborn. He pretended to be Esau, the firstborn (Genesis 27:18-29).
Jacob received the blessing before Esau returned from the field where he had gone to hunt an animal to prepare a tasty or savoury food for his father, Isaac. His father had told him to prepare him this food to eat so that he would bless him before he died. But Jacob outsmarted him and received the blessing.
Another negative reference that believers make to Esau is in Hebrews 12:16-17. This scripture warns that no believer should be a fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. Verse 17 recalls that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. Isaac still blessed Esau, but he didn’t receive the original blessing, the blessing due to the firstborn (Genesis 27:38-40).
Jacob’s deception caused hostility between him and Esau and he threatened to kill Jacob.
As suggested by Rebekah, Isaac sent Jacob away to his uncle, Laban, in Paddan-aram to find a wife. It was mainly a plan by Rebekah, the architect of Jacob’s deception, to prevent Esau from killing Jacob.
Twenty years later, Jacob was returning home and was haunted by his past. He knew how angry Esau was before he left home and he feared that Esau might kill him.
“Then Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. And he commanded them, saying, ‘Speak thus to my lord Esau, ‘Thus your servant Jacob says: ‘I have dwelt with Laban and stayed there until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight’”(Genesis 32:3-5 New King James Version).
The messengers brought a report that made Jacob greatly afraid and distressed. They told him Esau was coming with 400 men. He believed he was coming to fight and kill him.
He divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies, saying if Esau came and attacked one company, the other company left would escape. In verses 9-12, he prayed to God to deliver him from the hand of his brother, for he feared that he could come and attack him and his wives with the children.
He took other measures as he got close to meeting his brother, including sending a generous gift to him, either to bribe him or in accordance with the custom! (Verses 13-21). After dispatching his family ahead of him, he was alone. In the night a man wrestled with him, his name was changed to Israel and he was blessed (verses 22-32).
Jacob and Esau eventually met. Here is the positive lesson to learn from Esau. He didn’t come with 400 men to attack or kill Jacob and pay him back for the wrong against him. His mission was to give his brother a warm reception. Obviously, he had forgiven Jacob. Probably, he had realized his own error in selling his birthright prior to being robbed of his father’s blessing.
Genesis 33:1-3 says, “Now Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and there, Esau was coming, and with him were four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maidservants. And he put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last. Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother” (New King James Version).
I’m sure that at this stage, Jacob was still not sure how Esau would react. “But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept” (verse 4 New King James Version). What an emotional meeting! What a happy reunion! I’m almost moved to tears whenever I read this. Forgiveness!
Esau asked Jacob about the women and children he saw, saying, “Who are these with you?” Jacob told him they were the children God had graciously given him. He referred to himself as “your servant” – Esau’s servant.
“Then the maidservants came near, they and their children, and bowed down. And Leah also came near with her children, and they bowed down. Afterward Joseph and Rachel came near, and they bowed down” (verses 6-7 New King James Version).
Esau also asked Jacob about the flocks and herds he met on the way and he told Esau they were for Esau to find favor in his sight. He referred to Esau as “my lord.” Jacob was obviously sober. But Esau replied that he had enough, and Jacob should keep what he had for himself. Jacob, however, insisted and pleaded with him to receive the gift from him. Esau did.
Esau was also wealthy and content with what he had. He didn’t need any bribe or gift before he would forgive his brother. He had forgiven him and sincerely wanted to lead Jacob home from there. However, he told him to go ahead and he would come slowly because of the children and the animals.
Without going into further details about where Jacob eventually settled, I want to emphasize the forgiving spirit of Esau. Jacob’s fear of Esau killing him never came to pass. Esau had forgiven his brother and had moved on with his life.
It’s time to forgive. Who has wronged you? Forgive the person. Forgive your parents or children. Forgive your husband or wife. Forgive your ex-husband or ex-wife. Forgive your pastor or your former pastor. If you’re a pastor, forgive your former members or current members. Did somebody jilt you, abandon you, break up with you, or betray you? Forgive the person.
It’s time to forgive. Don’t be enslaved to the past. Let bygones be bygones. Forgive, not because of those who offended you, but because of yourself. Jesus said if you don’t forgive, your Father in heaven won’t forgive your trespasses (Mark 11:26).
It’s time to forgive. There is no offence anyone has committed against you that you cannot forgive. If Esau could forgive Jacob, you should forgive also. Forgive.
“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21-22 New King James Version).
Why you should forgive
1. You’re a beneficiary of God’s forgiveness (Galatians 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Colossians 1:14; Matthew 18:31-35).
2. Unforgiveness hinders your prayers (Mark 11:25-26; Isaiah 59:1-2).
3. You’ll always need forgiveness (James 2:13; Mark 11:25; Matthew 6:15).
4. Forgiveness shuts the door against the devil (2 Corinthians 2:10-11).
5. Forgiveness enables God to fight for you (Romans 12:19).
6. You need to move on with your life.
7. Unforgiveness is not good for your spiritual, physical and mental health. It ruins your fellowship with God and fellow humans. Unforgiveness has been associated with bodily pain, headache, heart problem, and even a weak immune system.
It’s time to forgive. Forgive! Jesus says there is no limit on the number of times you should forgive (Matthew 18:22, 35; Luke 17:4). Forgive from your heart (Matthew 18:35).
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you won’t still remember the wrong; neither does it necessarily mean you must be reconciled with the person who wronged you. Reconciliation is a separate process. Forgiveness means there’s no bitterness or ill feeling, or a desire for revenge. Forgive. It’s time to forgive.
If you’re not born again, repent of your sins today and accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. Whoever comes to Him, He will by no means cast out.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I repent of unforgiveness today; forgive me LORD. From my heart, I forgive everyone who has wronged me. I release everyone that I have refused to forgive before. Holy Spirit, I receive your help to walk in forgiveness henceforth. I shall leave everything to God; I shall not try to seek revenge.
This is wisdom for living, and it’s worth sharing. Please share.
(For over 300 in-depth and powerful messages by T.O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org)
▪︎ Banso, an Abuja-based Minister, heads
Cedar Ministry International, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com; Tel No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523; and on WhatsApp No: +2349081295947