Esau was furious with his brother Jacob because he had stolen the blessing that was supposed to be his. Rebecca knew her two sons needed some time apart. She told Jacob to go visit her brother Laban in her hometown of Haran.
“I will send you a message when your brother has calmed down,” she promised.
Jacob travelled all day, hurrying so he wouldn’t have to face his brother after he had tricked their old, blind father. At sunset he reached the town of Beersheba.
Jacob had nowhere to stay on his journey. He found a rock to lean against and despite how hard it was, Jacob was tired enough to fall asleep anywhere.
As he dreamt, he saw a ladder that reached from earth to heaven, with angels going up and down on it. Jacob must have realized that he was very far away from God. He had done bad things, and so there was a huge distance between himself and God, but God was making a connection for him.
The Lord appeared to Jacob beside the ladder. “The land where you sleep tonight will one day belong to your family,” He promised. “Your descendants will spread over the earth in all directions and become as numerous as the grains of sand. Your family will be a blessing to all people. Wherever you go, I will watch over you.”
Jacob thought his visit to his Uncle Laban would be a short trip…but it lasted twenty years! During that time, his uncle tricked him. Jacob got a taste of his own medicine. Now he understood what it was like to be treated the way he had treated Esau. But even then, God was watching over Jacob and helped him to be successful where he was.
One day God spoke to Jacob. “It’s time for you to go back to your home. Don’t worry, I will bless you.”
By this time Jacob had quite a large family. With over a dozen children and hundreds of animals, Jacob began the long journey home.
One night along the road, Jacob felt like he needed to be alone. A mysterious Man came and wrestled with Jacob until just before sunrise. He threw Jacob’s hip out of joint, so that from then on Jacob would have to walk with a cane, humble and in need of others’ help. But even with his hip hurting, Jacob wouldn’t give up until the Man agreed to bless him.
“What is your name?” The Stranger asked.
“No,” He replied. “From now on, you will be called Israel, because you have wrestled with God and with men, and you have won.”
Confused by these words, Jacob asked, “Well, what is your name?”
“You don’t know who I am?” He asked, before giving His blessing.
Jacob was in awe as he realized he had seen God face to face.
As Jacob got close to his brother’s home, he became nervous. Could his brother still be angry with him after all these years? Jacob was a different man now. He had learned many lessons. But Esau didn’t know that.
When Esau heard that Jacob was coming, he ran toward his brother and hugged and kissed him. They both cried for joy.
Esau saw Jacob’s enormous family and all the animals he brought. Jacob tried to give his brother many of his animals as gifts, but Esau refused.
“Master,” Jacob answered, addressing his brother with humility, “Please accept them as a sign of our renewed friendship. It meant so much to me for you to welcome me back. Seeing your face felt like seeing the face of God.” And Jacob certainly knew what he was talking about there!