Today’s reading link: Genesis 33; Mark 4; Esther 9–10; Romans 4
Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” – Genesis 31:-3
We read in Genesis 27:41-42 that Esau planned to kill his brother Jacob, so it is no surprise that Jacob is fearful when God instructs him to return to his homeland (where Esau resides). Jacob could have chosen allow the fear to manifest into distrusting God and therefore avoid Esau, but he obeyed God’s command, trusted His promise, then took action. He shared his fear with God and sent a multitude of gifts to Esau, but today’s focal point is that in his repentance he got his heart right and humbled himself before Esau.
Jacob refers to himself as Esau’s servant, bows before his brother, refers to Esau as “my lord”, and shows great gladness in Genesis 33:10 saying “For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.” Jacob didn’t try to justify his actions or make excuses. He knew his gifts weren’t enough of an apology, he needed to convey true sorrow and repentance. As for us and God, he doesn’t want excuses, he doesn’t need our gifts or works, he requires our hearts to be right with him.
In Esther 8:10-11, we’re told that the Jews to had been given the right by the king to defend themselves and take the plunder (riches and possessions) of their attackers. In Esther 9:16, after the Jews had triumphed over their attackers they would have been justified in taking the plunder, however they chose not to. Wealth was at their fingertips, theirs for the taking and they didn’t take it! Instead they turned in worship, praise, and thankfulness. As a result of these events, they left a beautiful legacy that would be commemorated “throughout every generation, in every clan, province, and city.” Their hearts were right before God.
Mark 4:10-25 also has a heart right theme. These verses basically talk about two ways we can receive God’s word; hearts in the wrong place or the right place. We can read and hear the truth but if our hearts are not right – we miss the message; we’re like the beaten path, the rocky ground, the thorns, or the basket hiding the lamp. When our hearts are right, we allow his word to grow in us and change us to be more like Jesus.
Romans 4 talks about Abraham’s faith through adversity. God promised that Abraham would become the father of many nations however at age 100 things weren’t looking too good. He could have been resentful and lost faith, but on the contrary, his heart was right and his faith grew stronger, and this brought glory to God. We benefit from this faith as well:
And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. – Romans 4:22-25 (NLT)
Father in Heaven, I ask you today to show me where my heart needs to change and be made right so that you may be honored and so that I may know you better. I cannot save myself. My attempt to do good works is not enough, so I thank you for the abundance of mercy and grace you have given through your son Jesus. Thank you God. Amen!