There’s a story about two brothers. Twins, actually. And while they looked exactly alike, they were as different as night and day. Father loved one, while Mother loved the other. Each boy grew up with their own clouds of strife hanging over their heads.
The older twin was a beefcake. The women swooned in his trail and men envied his ability to hunt game. His father couldn’t be prouder.
The younger twin was not a lad given to the outdoors, to say the least, but, man, could he cook up a storm! Neighbours would drool as the smell of his dinner would waft past their noses. He knew his way around the kitchen and his mother’s heart.
The time came when their father was at his death bed and called for the older twin to his side. He wanted to give a great gift to his firstborn before he died. The younger son, seeing his aged father was blind and that his brother was no where to be seen, took advantage of this situation to disguise himself as the older twin and stole the great gift from his dying father for himself. When the older son came home and found out what his cheating twin brother had done, rage consumed him and he swore murder. The younger brother fled for his life, taking the stolen gift but leaving his family and home behind.
Many times Christians say we serve the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but we forget we also serve the God of Abraham, Ishmael and Esau. We’re all part of one family but for generations have been hating one another instead of pursuing peace. The other side of that family, is our side too. It’s two families fighting over an inheritance.
Today we went to a restaurant called Maxim. It was established by an Arab and Jewish man who wanted to open it as a symbol that peace between these two ‘hostile’ brothers could exist. Many would visit the restaurant and be given hope that peaceful coexistence is possible in the Middle East. It continued for 2 generations. Then in 2003, a woman walks into the restaurant and in 20 minutes, blows herself up killing and injuring dozens of people. The owners were gravely saddened by this act of hate and resolved to close the restaurant for good. When the people around heard this they begged for the owners to keep it open. ‘We cannot let them win.’ This symbol of peace in Haifa must press on. So they did. 2 months later it reopened and today thousands of people all over the world visit this site; the symbol of peace between brothers.
The problems in the Middle East cannot be solved by political agendas, or changes U.S. presidents or even good intentions. It’s a family issue, not a political issue. Only by inviting the Prince of Peace can peace truly rest among brothers.
20 years later Jacob went to meet his older twin brother, Esau, who came toward him with what seemed like an army. Jacob was sure his brother was going to kill him. After all, he had stolen from him the blessing of the firstborn from their dying father. But when Esau meets Jacob, he runs to him, not to wring his neck but to embrace. He kisses his brother and they both weep over lost years.
We don’t know what exactly happened to Esau that he had come to forgive Jacob so wholeheartedly but when Jacob sees his older brother openly welcoming him with no grudges and the intention to reconcile, he says something so profound;
For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favourably.
When we choose to forgive those who hurt us, we carry the countenance of God.
A house divided against itself cannot stand, we must pursue peace with one another. This is the Kingdom of God.
Thinking of: One new man, Pastor Yusef and wiping the slate clean.