Where’s Jesus? the story of Jacob meeting Esau (Genesis 32:1-21)

Jacob sends alot of cattle and livestock to his brother Esau before he meets him.  His reason is summed up in verse 20:

I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.

Isn’t that so like Christ, doesn’t he send each person much blessing in life desiring for him or her to recognize that all these gifts are in the hope of establishing a peaceful relationship.  This is known as the doctrine of common grace.
 The scriptures are full of God’s common grace upon the inhabitants of the earth.  Because of Noah, humanity never has to fear a global flood again.  Because of God, the rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matt 5:45). Because of God, sin is restrained.   In fact, Genesis 20 is a great example of God restraining sin by keeping Abimilech from sleeping with Abraham’s wife. By God’s grace, humanity retains a conscience (Romans 2:14-15).  These are God’s gifts given in the hope of establishing peaceful relations with each and every individual.

In fact Louis Berkhof writes, 

ā€œ[Common grace] curbs the destructive power of sin, maintains in a measure the moral order of the universe, thus making an orderly life possible, distributes in varying degrees gifts and talents among men, promotes the development of science and art, and showers untold blessings upon the children of men,ā€ (Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 434).

Each of these gifts are given to help men and aid them in coming to terms with God.  But unfortunately, as humans, we do not always make good use of God’s gifts and so we require much more than common grace, we need special revelation, we need to actually hear God’s words for ourselves, like Esau hears in Genesis 33.  These special words are an example of God speaking to each person, calling him individually to be reconciled to God and one another.  This is the gospel.  God reaching out to us.


About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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