The Power of September 12

Yesterday, September 11, was the anniversary of a terrible event in our nation’s history. It serves as a compelling reminder that no one is immune from the evil corruption of this world.

No matter how powerfully the memory of September 11 weighs on our conscience, I believe the opportunities of September 12 have the potential to ignite something even more powerful.

How can this be? A story found in Genesis gives us a hint.

Esau had much reason to hate his brother Jacob. Their aged and dim-sighted father Isaac was prepared to give his first-born son Esau the blessing for the future that was rightfully his. But Jacob disguised himself as Esau and stole his blessing from the lips of Isaac.

 “From the dew of heaven
and the richness of the earth,
may God always give you abundant harvests of grain
and bountiful new wine.
May many nations become your servants,
and may they bow down to you.
May you be the master over your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
All who curse you will be cursed,
and all who bless you will be blessed.” (Genesis 27:28-29)

Even though this blessing wasn’t rightfully Jacob’s, once given it couldn’t be taken back. When Esau learned of his brother’s treachery, he begged his father for another blessing. Heartbroken at being tricked, Isaac gave his son the only blessing he could muster:

“You will live away from the richness of the earth,
and away from the dew of the heaven above.
You will live by your sword,
and you will serve your brother.
But when you decide to break free,
you will shake his yoke from your neck.” (Genesis 39-40)

Though it wasn’t the blessing Esau wanted to hear, it would prove to be the wisest blessing Isaac could have given.

Seething from betrayal, Esau planned to kill Jacob. But catching wind of his plans Jacob fled to another land.

Many years later Jacob grew tired of hiding from Esau and the consequences of his choices. He sends word to his brother he wants to meet with him. When Jacob’s servants return they tell him Esau is already on his way with over 400 men.

Jacob fears the worst but goes to meet Esau anyway. When they meet, we witness one of the most powerful scenes in the Bible:

“Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him. Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept.” (Genesis 33:3-4, NLT)

And here we see the miracle of Isaac’s blessing. When Esau decided to break free from his brother’s servitude of pain, it wasn’t through his original plans of revenge. Vengeance would have only deepened his pain and spread it to those around him.

Instead, Esau shook off his brother’s yoke through different means–forgiveness. Unknown to Esau at the time, Isaac had blessed him with the grace to forgive his brother, which turned out to be the greatest blessing of all.

Yesterday we remembered a heinous act committed upon this nation.

Perhaps every day you remember a heinous act committed upon you.

So whether figurative or literal, here we are at September 12–the day after. There is no question what has been done. The only question is “What will you do now?”

You can take the path of retribution. But the consequences of this path will be revisited upon you, those closest to you,  even upon those you have never met. Revenge, hatred, and anger are the straps that tighten the yoke of offense, eventually choking the neck it hangs around. The path of retribution leads only to pain.

But God has created another path. It moves us beyond the offense of yesterday toward the hope of tomorrow. It’s the path Issac set Esau on and it’s the direction Christ’s example points us toward.

The path’s name is forgiveness. And it is the only road that leads to freedom from offense. Choosing this path enables us to once again live in the richness of the earth and under the dew of heaven.

After his tearful reunion with Esau, Jacob had this to say to his brother:

“…And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!” (Genesis 33:10, NLT)

Of all the descriptions of God in the Bible, this is by far my favorite–forgiveness is the face of God.

How do you overpower the offense of September 11? Show the face of God on September 12.

Live The Mission,
Greg

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