Saturday, December 5, 2015

Messengers of Peace

Last week's Torah portion comes from Genesis 32:3 - 36:43.

Genesis 32:3 (KJV)
3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

When Jacob returned to the land of Canaan, he knew that his brother Esau was likely still angry with him over his deception of their father that resulted in Esau's loss of the blessing of the first born. In fact, Esau had threatened to kill him at one point! What better way to pave the way to peace by sending a gift to Esau!

Yet, what was Esau's response?

Genesis 32:6 (KJV)
6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.

It looked like Jacob had reason to be afraid! But when they actually met, it appeared that Esau's anger had been assuaged.

Genesis 33:8-9 (KJV)
8 And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.
9 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.

But Jacob was still not sure of his brother. When Esau offered to lead Jacob to his destination, Jacob responded with this:

Genesis 33:13-14 (KJV)
13 And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.
14 Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.

Jacob then went in a different direction and not towards Seir.

Genesis 33:18 (KJV)
18 And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.

This account of Jacob and Esau is the beginning of animosity between the children of Israel and the descendants of Esau. In the book of Obadiah (our week's reading from the prophets) that animosity is reviewed. However, God's response condemns the descendants of Esau.

Obadiah 1:10-13 (KJV)
10 For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.
11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.
12 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.
13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;

Today, this spirit of Esau continues! Much of the world, even parts of Christianity, are standing against Israel. But God has proclaimed the demise of those with the spirit of Esau.

Obadiah 1:17-18 (KJV)
17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.

Isaiah 63:1-4 (KJV)
1 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.
2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?
3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.

Revelation 19:11-16 (KJV)
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

How often has Israel sent messengers of peace, only to be met by violence? For those nations, government leaders, and church denominations and leaders that promote the spirit of Esau, these passages are warnings! To be on God's side is to be on Israel's side!

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