Summary: God has called us to take the initiative in bringing reconciliation.
How Is Your View From the Bridge?
Text: Gen. 33:1-20
1. Read Gen. 33:1-20
2. Illustration: God’s love is like a bridge that makes reconciliation possible. If you take away the bridge, the separation remains. George Herbert said, “He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass.” (T. T. Crabtree. Ed. The Zondervan 2001 Pastor’s Annual. Howard S. Kalb. “Forgiveness.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001, p. 306). The question that no one can escape answering is this: “How is your view from the bridge?”
3. Most of us have had a broken relationship in our life. Whether or not that realtionship is restored depends on how we handle the situation.
4. 2 Cor. 5:18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
Proposition: God has called us to take the initiative in bringing reconciliation.
I. Restoring Realtionships Requrires Humility (1-4)
A. Bowing Himself to the Ground
1. Now that Jacob’s transformation has been completed, after wrestling with God, he is finally ready to meet his brother Esau face to face.
2. His transformation can truly be seen in how he handles his meeting with his brother. Notice that verse 3 says "And he passed over before them..."
a. The Jacob before his encounter with God would have chosen to stay behind and bring up the rear.
b. Notice how the text emphasizes the fact that "he passed over before them..."
c. He went from rearguard to vanguard (Hamilton, NICOT - Genesis 18-50, 343).
3. What he does next really shows his transformation. The rest of verse 3 says "and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother."
a. He shows here the epitome of humility, because the word humility literally means, "to bow oneself low to the ground."
b. Not only does he bow to the ground but he does it seven times.
c. "Bowing seven times indicated a completeness of humility and was customarily done before kings" (Horton, Complete Biblical Library - Genesis, 313).
4. Now we must see that this was not necessarry for Jacob to do.
a. Remember that even though Jacob seeminly weaseled the blessing away from Esau, God had already decided to bless Jacob over Esau.
b. Also remember that God had said that the older would serve the younger.
c. Jacob would have been within his rights to come to his brother demanding respect.
d. However, he came to him in a spirit of humility.
5. Now look at the results of humility: "And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept."
a. Jacob could have come to his brother with a "holy than thou" attitude, and it could have caused an escalation of the hostility that his brother had for him.
b. He could have demanded the rights of the one with the blessing, but instead he humbled himself and brought restoration.
c. As a result of Jacob’s humility, "Esau’s hatred was replaced with generosity and love" (Horton, 313).
B. We Must Be Willing to Humble Ourselves
1. Illustration: During the days when Mohammed Ali was a great boxer, he would go around in his arrogance and say that, "He was the greatest." Humility was never his strong suit. One day, back in his prime, he was on an airplane and the plane was ready to take off and the flight attendant had repeatedly told him to put on his seat belt. He finally told her, "I’m superman and superman don’t need no seatbelt." The flight attendant didn’t hesitate a minute but shot back with, "Superman don’t need no airplane either, now buckle up."
2. When we are faced with a strained relationship, we can stop our feet and insist that we are right and they are wrong.
a. This will not ease the strain in the relationship; it will only deepen it.
b. This will not bring you closer together; it will only drive you farther apart.
c. Sometimes it’s not a matter of how it right and who is wrong, but about what needs to be done to heal the relationship.
3. We must do what Jesus did.
a. Phil. 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
b. Jesus didn’t humble himself because he needed to.
c. Jesus didn’t humble himself because he had done anything wrong.