Formations Lesson for August 29: Closure
Don Gordon, senior pastor, Yates Baptist Church, Durham
August 13, 2010

Formations Lesson for August 29: Closure

Formations Lesson for August 29: Closure
Don Gordon, senior pastor, Yates Baptist Church, Durham
August 13, 2010

Focal Passages: Gen.
33:1-17; 35:27-29

If you are using the
Formations you have been studying the life of Jacob/Israel for the past 5

Jacob, his mother’s
favorite, has moved from conniving scoundrel to a man with a new name and a new

Israel, as he will be called
henceforth, finally comes face to face with his longtime estranged brother

As a buffer he puts his
lesser loved wives and children in front, and his more beloved wives behind

Favorites Rachel and Joseph
will bring up the rear (33:2). Israel is a changed man, but there’s no point in
being careless!

He doesn’t know how Esau is
going to respond to his gifts and appeals for friendship.

In a stunning act of
reconciliation and forgiveness, Esau runs to Jacob (Esau doesn’t yet know of
the name change), hugs and kisses him with abandon (33:4).

Together they weep for joy
in the reconciliation. And they weep in sadness for all the years they wasted
in hostile estrangement.

When the tears have been
wiped clean and Esau can see clearly he notices all the women and children
surrounding Jacob. He asks, “Who are these with you?” (33:5).

Jacob introduces
his wives and children to Esau as they bow down in ritualistic subservience.
Jacob wants to give Esau
droves of animals as a gift “to find favor in your eyes.”

Esau doesn’t need nor does
he want the gift. It is gift enough to have his estranged brother back as a
wiser, more humble person. But Jacob insists. He reveals the depth of his
gratitude, putting it on the same level as divine offering, saying, “For to see
your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me
favorably” (33:10).

These words of Jacob bring
closure to the enmity between him and his brother because they reveal he
finally understands the interrelatedness between earthly brother and heavenly

He sees God in his brother and he sees his brother as divine gift. This
is true closure.

It ties all the loose
strings of sin and failure into a gracious knot of holy reconciliation. These
two brothers are one again. They have seen God in one another and they have
received God’s grace by receiving one another as brother. Closure isn’t simply
about putting an end to things, putting something deep in the closet of our
minds. It’s about ending things well, giving them proper placement in the great
scheme of God’s providence.

This week, think about what
needs to end well in your life. Name it and give it the kind of closure that
will honor God.