He [Jacob] himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. Genesis 33:3
When I’ve wronged someone, my feelings can be complicated. I can be upset over the wrong thing. Am I upset about what I did, or am I upset because the other person is angry? I may also be upset because the consequences seem out of line with the offense.
It was a miracle that Jacob bowed down to Esau after all that had transpired between them. They had never been close, not even as children. Yet, Jacob treated Esau as one treats a royal in Near Eastern culture. In court protocol, one bowed seven times, referred to himself as a servant, called the royal ‘lord’, and brought gifts of homage. Jacob did every single one of these things.
When I’ve hurt someone, it’s easy to be more upset about their response than what I did. Not knowing what to do with their anger, I am tempted to hide. Jacob didn’t have the luxury. God told him to return to Canaan and to obey, he would have to pass right through Esau’s territory. There would be no escaping the reunion. When Jacob finally saw Esau, he didn’t defend himself in any way nor did he blame Esau for the seething anger he must have felt through the years.
When God is the One I’ve offended, it can be complicated too. Instead of remorse, I can be angry that God is displeased. I can condemn His law and call Him unreasonable. I can believe He’s making a mountain out of a molehill. But who am I to judge the One who is righteous? Do I dare even think, “What’s the big deal?” It would do me well to remember court protocol when I’ve sinned. I should come before the throne and bow low, calling Him, “Lord”, and referring to myself as His servant.
If God seems distant because of our sins, what are we really upset about today? It would be good to isolate the reason because anything other than remorse puts our relationship with Him in cobwebs. Satan is always nearby, too, to weave the strands. He throws a party when there is estrangement. What a great breeding ground for further progression of anger and mistrust.
Holy Spirit, help us in this complicated journey of reconciliation. Amen