ESAU MEETS JOSEPH
Genesis 33:1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. 2 And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost. 3 And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. 4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept. 5 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant. 6 Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves. 7 And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves.
I must admit that in studying out this passage of scripture I was surprised to realize that Joseph, one of the strongest personal types of Christ in the Old Testament, ever met the notorious apostate, Esau! But here is the word of God to set that forth.
We read in verse two of our passage that Joseph was last to be presented. The scripture states that he was hindermost. The enmity that sparked the excitement of this encounter had long ago taken place. The damage had been done in the family and his was just to observe the reconciliation between estranged relations. This instruction by first hand experienced would become useful to him later in his life, when he would no longer be last, but first, and generously reestablish relationship with his own brothers. We wonder if when Joseph was in the presence of his brothers, hidden by his royal status and authority over them as they came in need of bread, if he thought on this scene. Proverbs 21:12 The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.
The Lord Jesus, the Last Adam, also came long after mankind had fallen. The breach had already been made between his elected brothers and his Father. And his work was to effect reconciliation between the Father and the sons, by restoring that which he had not taken away. He came as servant to all, but he would soon be Lord of all! 2 Corin. 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;
Matt. 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. Matt. 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
It is amazing that when the other sons of Jacob were down in Egypt in need of bread, that when Joseph did reveal himself to them, one thing he required of them was, ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt. (Gen. 45:13). He wanted the father, who had loved him so, to know that the dreams which he had revealed to the family had come true! And this is the same request in the prayer of the Son of God to the Father. John 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
Seeing the glory of the Person is that which convinces of His greatness! It was at the point of God’s glory that man’s transgression was manifested. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Rom. 3:23). For the exceeding sinfulness of sin can only be understood here at the point of God’s glory! “Hell is repugnant to justice!” (B. B. Caldwell). But eternal damnation and torments make sense when one comes to see the glory that was sinned against! And the cross, if only a historical, religious fact, is ineffectual to the soul! But when the Holy Spirit reveals the glory of the cross, true repentance comes forth from a godly sorrow, along with a confession of the sinner’s transgressions. (2 Corin. 7:10; Rom. 10:10).
And as that same glory is revealed by that same Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, he is progressively changed into greater spiritual maturity! 2 Corin. 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Even the final degree of the elect’s glorification shall only be attained by the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ as he graduates from the glory of his present reign as Mediator, and ascends into the glory of God, all in all! 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. Colossians 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. The glorification of the entire church of God depends upon their seeing the Lord Jesus at his second coming in his eternal glory!
So the glory of God is essential to be seen for salvation – John 2:11; 2 Corin. 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. – for sanctification, 2 Corin. 3:18; and for glorification, 1 John 3;2; Colossians 3:4! Would to God that present day preachers would see the glory and begin to exact it upon the hearts and minds of the souls in their charge!
At this encounter, Joseph, along with his father, Jacob, both mild family men of domestic orientation, meet the warrior man Esau. Esau was known for being a hunter. He was then a man of weapons. He approaches Joseph and his family followed by four hundred men! (Gen. 33:1). No womenfolk! No children! No herds! He was the leader of his gang, traveling as a force of strength!
Jacob probably had baby spit-up on his shirt! He was conditioned to the domestic life! His only “tactic” to meet this oncoming force? “Gather up our weapons?” “Put the the archers out in the front?” “Mount up, men and protect us from this approaching army of foot soldiers?” Nope! None of these. He just selected who among his band were to die last! See Genesis 32:7,8,11. That was his only physical tactic of warfare! But his spiritual tactic was to remind God of his promise to him and “instruct” God as to Esau’s probable destructive spirit! (Genesis 32:9,11).
Joseph would live his life like this, yielding to his Sovereign God’s Providence, trusting by faith that all things were predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Eph. 1:11). And so our Heavenly Joseph would look into the eyes of the warrior of Caesar’s mighty force and clearly say, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: (John 19:11). Psalm 76:10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.
But let’s now search the pages of Holy Writ and see if we can find out how the Lord God viewed this meeting of Joseph’s and Esau’s. For in the Book of Obadiah we find two verses allowing us to see “the rest of the story!” Obadiah 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. 21 And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S. My! My! The stubble Esau, who now seems to be the overcoming force, was actually meeting God’s fire and flame by which he would one day be eliminated from the earth!
And just how did the Lord prove to Israel that he loved them? He clearly sets out his love for them by instructing them that he did not deal with them as he had with Esau! Malachi 1:2 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, 3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. 4 Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever. 5 And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel. See also Romans 9:7-16.
But let us see what Joshua reports to his nation as to how God made the difference regarding this family of Jacob and Joseph. He gathers all Israel to him and sums up God’s dealing with them in chapter twenty four. And in verse four we read, And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. God only shared his creation with Esau for a while. But He shared his crucifixion with Jacob and his children! Deuteronomy 4:20 But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.
Esau only had his possessions to reveal God. But Joseph, by the fellowship in God’s sufferings, came to know him in his Person! Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Those foolish religionists who assume that gain is godliness shall share the fate of Esau. They shall hear the words given to all who think their life consists in their accumulated possessions. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? (Luke 12:20). But those who are crucified with Him shall share in the glory which shall be revealed by Him! Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Be careful to be no Esau! Heb. 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
Pastor Gene Breed
March 11, 2010