Summary: Jacob Meets Esau. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: Genesis chapter 33 verses 1-20.


• The Victorian artist James Whistler;

• Showed scant respect for the hierarchy of any profession.

• When his poodle fell ill with a throat infection,

• The artist immediately sent for the country’s leading ear, nose, and throat specialist,

• When Sir Morell Mackenzie was shown his patient, he was not amused!

• But he conducted a thorough examination, wrote out a prescription, and left with his fee.

• The next day Sir Morell Mackenzie sent the artist James Whistler a message;

• In it he asked him to call on him without delay.

• Fearing some development in the poodle’s condition,

• The artist James Whistler hurried to the doctor’s house.

• “So good of you to come, Mr. Whistler,” said Mackenzie as his visitor was shown in.

• “I wanted to see you about having my front door painted.”

• Well Sir Morell Mackenzie got his revenge;

• And made his point effectively!

• Revenge or reconciliation, which one will dominate our Bible passage this evening?

• Hang on in there to find out!


• Jacob has been reconciled to Laban (chapter 27 verse 41).

• Laban was twice Jacob’s father-in-law who badly tricked him.

• Jacob has also been reconciled to God (chapter 32 verses 22-32).

• And as a result he had been given a new name; ‘Israel’.

• The question that needs answering in this chapter is;

• Will there be a third reconciling i.e. Jacob and Esau?

• If it isn’t a reconciliation;

• Then as sure as ‘eggs are eggs’ it was going to be a bloodbath?

The background:

• For anyone who might not know, Jacob and Esau are brothers:

• But the last time the two brothers met, they fell out with each other.

• The row was because Jacob tricked his brother older brother Esau,

• The deception meant that he (Jacob the younger) and not Esau, got the family blessing.

• When Esau realised he had been made to look a fool and he had missed the blessing.

• It was too late.

• As a result of this deception Jacob had to quickly leave his home and land.

• Because Esau was determined to kill him.

When we pick up the story in genesis chapter 33:

• Twenty years have passed by;

• And Jacob has been commanded by God (chapter 31 verse 13) to return back to his home.

• That of course prevents Jacob with a big problem;

• The unsettled dispute with his brother Esau who still lives there.

• Jacob may want to be reconciled to his brother Esau.

• But as far as he knows Esau certainly doesn’t want to be reconciled to him?

• And as Esau was both a fighter and a killer,

• Jacob is naturally worried & scared that some fighting & killing might be coming his way!


One New Year’s Eve at London’s Garrick Club,

• British dramatist Frederick Lonsdale;

• Was asked by Symour Hicks to reconcile with a fellow member.

• The two had quarrelled in the past and never restored their friendship.

• “You must,” Hicks said to Lonsdale.

• “It is very unkind to be unfriendly at such a time.

• Go over now and wish him a happy New Year.”

• So Lonsdale crossed the room and spoke to his enemy.

• “I wish you a happy New Year,” he said, “but only one.”

• It takes two willing parties for reconciliation to take place;

• Jacob was willing but Esau is an unknown ‘number’ in this equation.

• When we pick up the story in chapter 32 (last week) and chapter 33;

• Jacob is a worried, an anxious man:

Quote: Navy Law:

“If you can keep your head when all about you others are losing theirs,

may be you just don’t understand the situation”.

• Jacob is a worried, an anxious man all he can think of is, “What will Esau do to me?”

• Despite the promises of God (it will be alright) Jacob is a troubled man!


There is a story told about a construction worker.

• This construction worker was employed on a high-rise building project,

• Which required him and others to work after dark.

• He was busy on the edge of one of the walls which was many stories high,

• When he suddenly lost his balance and fell.

• As he fell over the edge,

• He managed to grab the edge of the wall with his fingertips.

• Desperately he hung on hoping that somebody would discover his perilous situation.

• He was in total darkness, just about hanging on to the wall, and crying out loud for help,

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